In November of 1994, William and Alma Hyatt moved into their new San Antonio, Texas home. By 1997, what had been a lovely neighborhood of modest homes built in the mid-seventies, had become a deteriorating sub-division, strewed with old cars and stacks of trash. Family violence calls, curb side drug paraphernalia and gun shots were everyday occurrences.
Alma Hyatt was determined that she wasn’t going to be run out of her home. She survived hardships back in the seventies–a single mother of four, working as an Army dental assistant. Two of her daughters are educators, one with a Ph.D. in education running an elementary school and another teaching at The University of Texas at San Antonio. Her son, a contractor in Austin, builds big houses and her youngest daughter, 37, is graduating from medical school in Galveston in May 2001.
Hyatt decided to help the San Antonio Police Department call in emergencies. She wanted to do more and after taking some advice from her SAFFE officer, Bill Campbell, she sent out flyers, to her own expense, to her surrounding neighbors and the first meeting of Sierra North Citizens On Alert was held. Under Hyatt’s direction, what was a hand full of neighbors, has turned into a SAFFE Program with 100 members and 25 plus active monthly volunteers covering 900 homes. Her program includes monthly meetings, street patrolling, telephone check in for the shut-in and a newsletter.
Hyatt has also volunteered for Meals on Wheels, NESA, the nutrition center for GRASP, and she reads a blind professor his mail. At least once a day, she takes meals to a couple in their 70s with no local family. The man has lost both of his legs to diabetes, and the woman has Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Due to Hyatt’s perseverance with phone calls, the neighbor with MS receives her $900 per month medicine for free.
The sub-division is now in compliance with all the city ordinances, the elderly and disabled neighbors are assisted, and the “crack houses” are gone. At 68, Hyatt’s health issues have not stopped her from lending a helping hand. She says she feels “pretty good” as her Hansen Disease has been in remission for at least 20 years.