(From left) Joshua, Chelsea, Steven, and Michelle Montemayor live in the Shenandoah neighborhood. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

The Where I Live series aims to showcase our diverse city 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.

I knew Shenandoah long before it became my home. But even my brief experience here when I was younger stayed with me, and I remembered this neighborhood as feeling warm and inviting. Now having lived here with my husband for 22 years, it’s that same homey feeling that assures us that we’re in the right place.

The San Antonio Report logo marks the location of the Shenandoah neighborhood. Credit: Courtesy / Google Maps

It was summer when we moved in, and I remember one particular Saturday when we were trying to sleep in a little bit and were woken up by the sound of sirens. We ran out to see what was going on, and it was the annual 4th of July parade that the neighborhood puts together. After the parade, there was a barbecue, games, and music for everyone to enjoy. That was our first taste of the neighborhood coming together to celebrate and socialize.

We also used to have a holiday lights contest and the kids could go on a hayride tour of the neighborhood and see all the lights. Now we have an arts and crafts showcase at the clubhouse where we can shop local vendors and kids can take a picture with Santa Claus. We always have a Super Bowl watch party at the clubhouse and the neighbors get together to watch the game. Of course, with the pandemic, we don’t get together with our neighbors like we used to, but our strong sense of community remains in the ways we look out for each other.

The Shenandoah Homes Association clubhouse. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

The location of the neighborhood near Interstate 10 is ideal for us when we travel to Houston to visit my husband’s family, but Shenandoah is so calm and peaceful, you’d never know it was so close to the highway. And it’s such a walkable neighborhood. When my children were younger, we would walk them to school in their little wagon. I met one of my dear friends who lived on the opposite side of the block because we both walked our kids to school every day.

My two children attended the local schools – Howsman Elementary, Hobby Middle School, and Clark High School – where I served on the PTA and was president at the time that we got the Natonal School of Excellence award at Hobby and Clark. I just recently retired from national PTA, where I was one of four fellows for the entire nation that served on the family engagement program.

I believe so strongly in the work of the PTA because I never want to see kids not get what they need. I’ve been very blessed to not have to work for 22 years, so I’ve been able to dedicate a lot of time to this work, to give a voice to kids and to parents who can’t participate because they are busy working to provide for their families. Beyond all the parties and activities that everyone associates with the PTA, we, at our core, are advocates for children and there’s so much great work that gets accomplished by everyone involved.

Shirley J. Howsman Elementary School. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

As much as I love the schools and have so many great memories with my kids and the PTA, my favorite place is in the neighborhood is my home. We’re such homebodies, so the pandemic hasn’t changed our habits too much. But it has helped us put more time back into the house. It has never been neater. My husband is now working from home and my daughter, who is in her second year of college, is attending classes remotely. Having them home more has been great. If my son, who moved out a couple of years ago, would just come back, my world would be complete. Just being able to be together watching retro movies, playing board games, and getting back to what’s important has been such a blessing.

We’ve lived in this neighborhood for more than two decades, so of course, there have been changes over the years. Houses get a new coat of paint, speed bumps get put in to slow down drivers, children grow up and move out, and neighbors come and go. But we still have the sense of community we loved when we first moved in.

It’s that sense of community that has kept us here, that has kept our next-door neighbors here for at least a decade, and that has brought children who grew up and moved away back to raise their own families here. I hope to see my neighborhood continue to be community-oriented and hold on to the traditions that bring us together.

Michelle Montemayor

Michelle Montemayor

Michelle Montemayor is devoted to her family, faith, and community. She's been married to her husband, Steven, for 30 years and is the mother of two amazing humans, Joshua, 28, and Chelsea, 19. She served...