SAN ANTONIO – On the city’s East Side, neighbors are stepping up to protect their community from crime and violence.
The group Neighborhoods First Alliance is dedicated to strengthening neighborhoods through resources and community service. Their latest effort unfolded Saturday morning at the corner of Hays and St. Martin St on the East Side.
“This alliance has a history and a track record of bringing millions of dollars to the community and cleaning up neighborhoods, and we’re not even police,” Tommy TC Calvert, president of the Neighborhoods First Alliance said. “We don’t agonize. We organize.”
Volunteers organized to finish painting the home of Mr. and Mrs. Alemán as part of the group’s Paint-A-Thon.
“The painting shows we take pride in East Side,” Calvart said.
Each brush stroke turned the house from green to a light grey in celebration of the Aleman’s commitment to make the neighborhood a better place.
“The Alemán’s live five doors from the Hays Food Mart, which had over 1,000 police calls (in less than five years) for all kinds of criminal and drug activity,” Calvert said. “Som we’re painting the man’s house because they stepped up and they became captains to this process.”
Gilberto Alemán joined the alliance five years ago. He said the Paint-A-Thon is a special event for him and his wife, Alicia, as he’s owned the home for more than 30 years.
Memorials and the frequent presence of police officers help tell the story of a neighborhood struggling with violence and crime, but Alemán said over the years it has also become a safer place to live.
Neighbors attribute the change to be commitment from community leaders and police officers wanting to develop relationships with neighbors.
Saturday morning, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus was present, greeting neighbors and speaking out against violence in the area.
“I think the face of the crime has changed a little bit in that there’s not that constant back and forth retaliation that we’ve seen in the past,” McManus said. “(This event) is one of the best ways that the police can work with the community to establish a good relationship and to let folks know in the neighborhood that we’re here and we care.”
Organizers say the event also serves as a message to criminals in the area that neighbors, police and the alliance is standing together, united in the fight on crime.
“Police can’t do this by themselves,” Calvert said. “Even though there is strain between the Black community, Hispanic community, the police today, we still got to work together. We still have to make sure that we reduce crime in the neighborhood.”
To get involved with or to apply for resources provided by the alliance, email Calvert at email@example.com.