Having only been a Lakewood resident for a little more than a year, I remember looking at our house and driving down each street to see if it looked like a “good” neighborhood. After all, buying your first house is a big step.

I saw children playing outside, neighbors chatting in the yard and clean streets. I had a good feeling about the area. It reminded me of the small towns I grew up in – where neighbors were a part of each other’s lives.

When we first moved in, it was just a house, and we were ready to make it a home. Well, it definitely feels like home now, much in part because of the Lakewood Homeowners’ Association. We met our neighbors, but the Association allowed us to meet our neighbors’ neighbors and become a part of the community.

Buying a house is not just a 30-year commitment to the mortgage company. It’s an investment in community and in a better living environment.

LHA is bringing back the meaning of community not just by block parties and parades, but by confronting issues important to every resident, whether they’ve lived here for one year or 50 years. LHA has chosen three areas of improvement for the 1994-95 year: community, safety and beauty.

One of its most visible endeavors is the neighborhood newsletter, “Lakewood Life.” It is distributed to all 3,000 homes in the neighborhood, and it shares the life of Lakewood from school notes and special events to crime watch tips and neighborhood news.

We recently took our first big step in fighting crime by activating a voice mail system with the help of the Northeast Police Substation. Residents can call the hotline, 220-2216, and receive up-to-date information regarding crime or suspicious activity in the area.

By knowing, immediately, what crimes are occurring, we can stop trends and take preventive measures to keep them from happening again. Other efforts include distributing resident lists to each house, so everyone knows their neighbors on their street.

We are also doing our part to clean up White Rock Lake. LHA adopted a mile of shoreline stretching from Tee Pee Hill to Branchfield and had a successful first trash bash recently. In addition, we are encouraging residents to participate in a tree planting project with the Dallas Parks Foundation to enhance the parkway areas of our streets, and we are continuing to recognize outstanding green thumbs with our “Yard of the Month” signs.

The LHA began as a loosely formed group of concerned homeowners who joined together to solve specific problems, but the whole area was splintered with multiple newsletters and activities. The crime watch of the early ‘80s brought a cohesiveness to the group when it joined forces with LHA to form a powerful presence.

With one strong voice, LHA became active on zoning issues, participated in the Lakewood Park opening, the installation of recycling igloos, traffic studies, provided a forum for political candidates and continues the fight for the integrity of the neighborhood.

So, you can see a neighborhood association isn’t all fun and games (though we try to make everything fun), but it’s an overall effort to voice concerns and make a difference, not just for today but for years to come.

The Association has been around for a while, and as the times and members change, one thing stands firm – the commitment to community.

To be a part of Lakewood life, call Suzanne McCann at 320-9349.

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.