It’s odd how things become. A little over a year ago, a handful of people met up to discuss the needs of our community. All of these folks had been serving in nonprofit organizations, churches, and civic positions and were more than familiar with the struggles many families deal with on the daily. As we ate at a little Mexican food place in East Amarillo, the obvious issues sprang up… beat up old rent houses, bad public transportation, lack of jobs paying a living wage for a family, low education levels, high crime, and in some neighborhoods…no grocery stores within a couple of miles. Now those aren’t all the issues, but they are some of the big ones.
As we talked through these things, we couldn’t help but to notice that one neighborhood in Amarillo seemed to stand out…San Jacinto. This old neighborhood had checked all the boxes under “poor and neglected” but, at the same time, still had a sense of pride and a hope that it would one day be a neighborhood restored to the solid community it once was. We had friends doing great things, Chad at ACTS Community, Dr. Kiester at Heal The City, dedicated teachers and faculty at San Jacinto Elementary and Sam Houston Middle School…all the neighborhood needed was a few more pieces of the puzzle and the road to transformation could get started.
One key piece that was missing became pretty obvious to us (as we filled up on the absolute best corn tortillas ever)… there was no place to get groceries. Sure, you could run to the corner store, but they carry more beer, cokes, and junk than actual food to cook a meal with…not to mention the prices! If you don’t have a solid car or are watching every mile so you have enough gas to make it to payday, a run to get groceries is kind of a big deal and often you are stuck with whatever trash food you can get from the convenience store. I’m 40 years old and know how eating a steady diet of bad food makes me feel, I also have three kids and I know how that food makes them ACT! It’s not a pretty sight…
The obvious solution to us was to put in a little store…a neighborhood market like the ones my grandfather shopped at as a boy growing up on 6th and Tennessee. It wouldn’t be some huge grocery store, but it would be a place folks could walk to and pick up good food to whip up a meal with…at an affordable price. In addition, it would provide a few jobs to some neighborhood people and allow the community to have something that was theirs. That little idea was the beginning of Square Mile Community Development. Lets provide access to healthy foods, provide a few job opportunities, teach some folks how to grow some things and start their own little businesses…let’s begin empowering San Jacinto. Let’s believe in the people that live there. Let’s believe that the people, the churches, and the businesses around Amarillo want to see a thriving and healthy neighborhood surrounding 6th Street.
Let’s believe that it can be done.
We chose to believe, and because we chose to believe…we chose to take the wheel and drive it forward. The market is coming, as well as an urban farm to grow fresh produce right on 6th Street. We’ve also began building a framework with the other great organizations in the neighborhood to see true, lasting change come to San Jacinto. We’re stoked about what is happening.
We believe in our community and we want you to be a part of something Amarillo hasn’t ever seen…
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