The Where I Live series aims to showcase our diverse city and region by spotlighting its many vibrant neighborhoods. Each week a local resident invites us over and lets us in on what makes their neighborhood special. Have we been to your neighborhood yet? Get in touch to share your story.

My husband and I were born and raised in San Antonio. I grew up in Dignowity Hill on the East Side, and Joe Jesse grew up on the West Side, in the Edgewood community. Married almost 43 years, we were educators in the inner-city school districts of San Antonio in many beloved communities.  

We began raising our family in the Jefferson neighborhood and spent the remaining 30 years in the Northwest part of town. Inevitably, we became empty nesters. With no one living upstairs and our yard being too much to maintain, we knew we had to part ways with our beloved our neighbors, cul-de-sac home, and community. Incredibly, our house sold the first day.  

It was a challenge to find exactly what we needed in such a short time. We looked at two- and three-story townhomes with great rooftop terraces, but we would never have sat on a hot rooftop in the summer. Plus, as we age, stairs are not looking good. We looked at homes in neighborhoods with kids, but we had already been the tricycle to teenage car route. We looked downtown and knew we could not walk our dogs in our pajamas. We needed a one-story home with a small yard, a cool and shady place to have a libation, and a place where the commute to work was not too intense. 

We found our new home in the Gardens in the Emerald Forest neighborhood. Bulverde Road was still expanding when we moved in, and we now call it the Bulverde Speedway, due to speeders in its six lanes making it difficult to get in or out of the neighborhood.  Thank goodness District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry sought to get us a traffic signal at our entrance. It will be operational, hopefully, in September.

Our age-in-place home is one level with room for all our downsized belongings. One of our favorite features is the natural light that comes through all the windows on the back and side of the house. We say we live in a virtual tree house since the elevation of our home places it high above the tree line and backs into the greenbelt. Our covered outdoor terrace in the back is a great extension to our one-story floor plan. Neither of us had a treehouse growing up, so this fulfills our fantasy. We feel as if this is the last house we will own and intend to live here for the next 25 years or more as we age.

Joe Jesse and Minnie Sanchez transformed their backyard property into a restful space with shade trees and an extended property. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

There was a small backyard that was waiting for us to transform it. We also have a 50-foot green belt area beyond our iron fence line that abuts the adjoining Dr. Trevino ranch. It has become a perfect early-morning and late-evening setting to sit and watch the deer, turkey, rabbits, birds, and an occasional cow or longhorn that stroll by or climb over the old barbed wire fence. Occasionally, deer, will come and listen to music. Oh, and there are coyotes that occasionally howl at night. During this COVID-19 pandemic, we have even gone back to growing some flowers.

Nearby, we have our green thumbs fulfilled by Milberger’s Landscaping and Nursery and our Mexican food cravings by La Hacienda de los Barrios, and there are plenty of grocery stores to fill our refrigerator. Our Beagle, Bean, loves the spa baths and friendly staff at Lucy’s Doggy Daycare & Spa.

La Hacienda do Los Barrios is located at 18747 Redland Road. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

We have been blessed to once again have a wonderful neighborhood with many caring and social neighbors. They are friendly and helpful, be it a ride to the airport, or to drop off a car, check our sprinklers, or just to have friendly talks. Many neighbors are retired, but there are some younger couples still working.

We have met many neighbors through a casual weekly Saturday morning coffee hosted by a neighbor. Another group meets every Saturday night to play dominoes, each going to a potluck at a different home. And what would a neighborhood be without a Bunco group? We also attend a lively Thursday afternoon dominoes group at the local Methodist church and have hosted the mayor and councilman so that they can get to know our little corner in San Antonio. All of these gatherings are on hold during the pandemic, but we look forward to socializing with our neighbors when this is all over.

After living in District 10 for the past seven years, we decided to begin participating in the Northeast Neighborhood Alliance. We attend the monthly meetings and continue to learn about the needs and successes of our surrounding neighborhoods.  We have met so many wonderful participants and folks, who, like us, only want the best for our community.  

We love our home, but we love even more the sense of community that many neighborhoods enjoy in San Antonio, the largest small town in America. COVID-19 has forced us to practice social distancing and has kept us from many of the activities and people that matter most to us. Here at home, the virus has given us the time to pause and reflect on and appreciate that our city is working toward equal access to education, workforce development, and affordable housing so that everyone can someday contribute a positive piece to the Where I Live series.

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Minnie Sanchez

Last year, Minnie Sanchez was appointed to the Board of Directors of Port San Antonio by Councilman Clayton Perry. She continues to work as a consultant with Andrade-Van de Putte & Associates.

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Joe Jesse Sanchez

Joe Jesse Sanchez, a life-long educator, was encouraged to apply for an unexpired term on the Alamo Colleges District Board of Trustees representing District 9. He was appointed and reelected to fulfill...