The Kind of Neighborhood It Is, Part 1

When I heard about Crestview Neighborhood Association’s Volunteer Appreciation Party, coming up on April 9, 2012, it got me thinking about all the different ways people contribute to our community.

GressersDon Gresser and his wife, Gladys, had lived in Crestview for 61 years when we interviewed them in March 2009. In telling us about their lives, more than once they mentioned how they volunteered for one project or another. For many years, they helped distribute the CNA monthly newsletter. Gladys was active at Faith Lutheran Church, and Don volunteered with the Lone Star Girl Scout Council for 40 years. He also described how, closer to home, people always helped each other out:

The neighborhood was such that nobody went out and bought a tool, until they checked with neighbors to see if they could borrow one from whoever had it. That’s the kind of neighborhood it was—still is to a great extent.

When Don passed away February 15, 2011, we learned about his accomplishments in his career, in the military, and as a volunteer. He would be remembered, his obituary said, for his sense of humor, great memory, generosity—and being a good neighbor.

Judy and John Carlson devoted many volunteer hours to their church, Crestview Methodist. John used his formidable carpentry skills to create cabinets, bookcases, glass showcases, and many other handcrafted pieces for the church. “You can’t touch anything at the church without John’s being connected to it in some way,” his wife Judy said. Among other projects, Judy and John also coordinated successful, community-wide garage sales at the church, raising funds for Austin Children’s Hospital, Capital Area Food Bank, and Salvation Army.

Crestview neighbor Bob Harwood volunteered well into his 80s at the local Retirement and Nursing Center and lived there for several years before he passed away at age 97 on October 17, 2013. For years, he and his wife, Roberta, were active CNA members. Rob and I them in the early 1980s and often visited with Bob at Violet Crown Festivals. A few years ago, I saw Bob outside Crestview Pharmacy, and we talked a while. When Bob said goodbye, he added, “Thanks for remembering me.” I thought, “How could I forget you?” We featured Bob on the blog last Veterans Day, in honor of his heroic service during World War II. You can read more about him here.

The Violet Crown Festival, coming up in May, is now an annual tradition. We created the festival so that neighbors of all ages would feel welcome, and each year many of them also have stepped up to help. Artist Jean Graham, who created the Wall of Welcome, and I were longtime volunteers, beginning with the first festival in 2003. We also helped found the nonprofit Violet Crown Community Works that created the festival and coordinates it each year. In 2012, Jean described those times. It’s the way I remember them, too.

Our whole experience of coming together to create VCCW was powerful and bonding and community-oriented.

To be continued next week, with “The Kind of Neighborhood It Is, Part 2” on Voices of the Violet Crown!

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