Story and photographs by Pamela Price
Originally printed in April 2010 issue of Leon Springs Community News
While homeowners’ associations (HOAs) are most commonly thought of in their capacity to enforce covenant rules and restrictions, Leon Springs groups coordinate service and social activities for residents, too.
Take for instance the Stage Run HOA. On a recent sunny day in the neighborhood park, volunteer Bill Vogl stood before a small group of his fellow homeowners with a handmade poster board sign. Behind him, two children and their mother gathered trash and fallen limbs. In the parking lot sat a bright yellow sanitation truck on loan courtesy of Keep San Antonio Beautiful.
“This is the list of places we’ve identified that most need our attention today,” said Vogl, the 2010 chair of Stage Run’s Neighborhood Spring Cleanup. “Be sure to let us know if there are places that you see we need to go back and address later.”
At the end of his remarks, Vogl asked the volunteers to introduce themselves. Some were neighborhood newcomers like Vogl who moved to Leon Springs last year. Others were original Stage Run residents.
According to Stage Run HOA board member Valerie Liebold, the annual clean-up is an important means of keeping Stage Run tidy. The service project also provides residents with the chance to mix and mingle, creating an enhanced sense of community.
“People want activities. They want to get together,” said Liebold. “We’d like to see more volunteers. With 541 homes, you’d think we’d have more than the twenty people or so you see here. But there’s always some scheduling conflict for people to work around.”
“Making this activity more social with donuts—and providing gloves and such,” added Vogl, gesturing to a table laden with items furnished by the HOA. “I think that motivates people.”
“We have a social committee in place, but maybe what we need is more of this kind of service activity,” Liebold observed.
Across Boerne Stage Run and in the Walnut Pass neighborhood, a recent online survey initiated by the HOA’s social committee revealed that residents were especially interested in engaging in neighborhood-centered service activities. As a result, the social and service committees are working collaboratively this year to develop social programs with a service component.
“While I’m not sure I can speak for others, I still think most people would truly like to do more to help others and engage with them,” said Nate Barber, a Walnut Pass resident since 2005. “ If I want to broaden my horizons and get to know someone several streets over, it’s much easier if there is a venue where than can happen. Ultimately I’d like to see individuals doing more to create that sense of community, but I think they are more likely to do that if they feel supported because the homeowners’ association created the right environment first.”
Liebold, who has served four years on the Stage Run board, noted that her organization is always looking for volunteers willing to coordinate activities like the neighborhood clean-up. “I think people fear that becoming more involved [with their HOA] means taking on a second job, but it’s really not that hard. The biggest challenge, honestly, is finding the resources to help.”
All content copyright 2010 by Pamela Price. Use may be requested via this Web site.