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.

The Jewish Community Center near North Star Mall was a home away from home for my family when I was growing up. Though I was raised Catholic and still attend Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, the JCC was the community center that my family belonged to. 

When I got a job at the JCC, it was like coming full circle. I worked there for 16 years. My son Robby and daughter Olivia both attended preschool and still enjoy summer camp there, my husband Josh and I use the fitness center, and we all enjoy the pool. We attend shows at the theater, fundraisers, and other events. It’s a part of our routine.

Where I Live: Oak Meadow by Carisa Heiss. Photos taken on February 11, 2021.
The entrance to the San Antonio Jewish Community Center. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

So when we had an opportunity to move to Oak Meadow while our kids were still in preschool, we had to take it. Many of the people we had befriended over the years at the JCC lived in the area, and it was like having a built-in community from the start.

We live on a cul-de-sac, so we spend a lot of time in the front yard and in the cul-de-sac. Our kids learned to ride bikes there, and my daughter is now learning how to skateboard. We’ve done some socially distanced happy hours and outdoor movie nights. When Hamilton came out on Disney+, we invited some of the neighbors to sit in our cul-de-sac and watch the play with us.

At the beginning of the pandemic, several of the neighbors coordinated takeout once a week from our favorite restaurants in the area like El Mirasol, Pasha, and Two Bros BBQ. When it was our turn, we would pick the spot, take everyone’s orders, and pick up the food. It was a fun way to stay connected to our neighbors and support our local businesses.

The Oak Meadow neighborhood is outlined in red. Where I Live: Oak Meadow by Carisa Heiss. Photos taken on February 11, 2021.
The Oak Meadow neighborhood is outlined in orange. Credit: Courtesy / Google Maps

Oak Meadow is a neighborhood that likes to get together at the neighborhood park for holiday celebrations, so we’ve had to find other ways to gather. We had a graduation parade, which was absolutely adorable. It was nice to see the age range of all the families living in the neighborhood. We had graduates from elementary, middle, and high school in decked out cars and neighbors with signs and noisemakers. Though it was an event that came out of the need to maintain distance during the pandemic, it’s something that brought us together and that would be fun to continue every year.

We’ve also become reacquainted with our home in different ways over the past few months. I’m working remotely, so we turned part of our living room into my office. I’ve been able to personalize my new office, and it’s one of my favorite spaces now. My husband is working from home a few days a week, and his office is in our bedroom. And the kids have both been learning remotely until recently.

It took us a while to find a home office arrangement that worked for us, but with a few Amazon orders of desks and other necessities, we got it figured out. Being thrust into this situation where we’re all at home at once while at work and in class has really reminded us of how fortunate we are to have our own spaces and our own devices. Not only that, but we have a great yard and easy access to the Salado Creek Greenway. That’s been a saving grace during the pandemic. Whenever I need a break from being inside the house all day, I can get out for some literal and figurative fresh air.

We’re also close to Eisenhower Park and Hardberger Park, so we have plenty of options when we need to get out of the house, whether it’s to walk our dog Butterscotch, ride our bikes, or just stretch our legs and take a break from our screens.

Residents explore the outdoors at Hardberger Park in March 2020. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

When we go out for walks in the evening, we see people of all ages. Young kids on bikes, older adults staying active, and parents getting in some exercise between all the kid activities. It’s a reminder that this is a community for everybody and one we’d like to be a part of for many years to come.

Carisa Heiss is a native of San Antonio and a nearly life-long resident. She has worked in the local nonprofit sector for most of her career and recently joined the team at Children at Risk as a Major...