By: Nestor Resendiz and Delilah Martinez
2018 AT&T Byron Nelson Junior Reporters
The Six Ladies interviewed include Shirley Davidson, Betty Curley, Yolanda Williams, Wanda McBeth, Eloise Edwards, and Yvonne Branch – all from neighborhoods bordering the new Trinity Forest Golf Club.
Nestor: When did you move here, and what was it like back then?
Most of us moved here over 40 years ago. We liked the neighborhood because it had beautiful trees. It was safe, quiet and clean. People knew their neighbors. Shirley Davidson: “I had two sons, and they made a slide and used it to slide into the woods.”
We never heard an ambulance or police siren. We had a Safeway grocery store and a Tom Thumb.
Nestor: When did you become aware that people had started using a part of the forest as a dump?
We heard the trucks, starting in the 1990’s. We looked outside and saw big trucks on the street. We smelled something wrong in the air. The trucks went up and down the street all day and all night.
Delilah: What inspired you to do something about it?
We knew it wasn’t right.
Delilah: So, what did you do?
We got organized. We started out by going to City Council and making them aware of what was going on. We had “Illegal Dumping” T-shirts made, and we all wore our shirts. Council people said they would help, but nothing changed. Another thing we did is get to know the police. They would come to our neighborhood meetings, and we got to know them. We also wrote our State Representative.
Nestor: But it took a long time to get the dump closed, right?
It took over 20 years. Once, a fire burned for 52 days. We decided we had to find an attorney and sue the city.
Staff: Was that a hard decision?
No, not really. Remember there were trucks going up and down our streets at all hours of the day and night. And there was a very bad smell.
Delilah: How did you keep your spirits up?
We fought and prayed. We fought and prayed. And together we built a strategy. One person couldn’t do it all.
Delilah: What gave you the courage to be a Changemaker?
We could see that something good was coming out of our work. We want to do more here. Miss Yolanda, “The seniors who led this fight are still here. They’re still alive and fighting. They paved the way, and we need to keep moving forward.”
Nestor: How do you feel about the AT&T Byron Nelson taking place here?
This golf tournament will help put us on the map. People will come down here and see that the neighborhoods are not that bad. They’ll see the beautiful forest.
Delilah: What is your dream for this neighborhood?
Nice, new homes. Improved streets. A nice grocery store. A sit-down restaurant. A diner. No cheap hotels, just high-end ones – at least $225/room/night. We want a neighborhood that has jobs for kids, so they don’t get in trouble. We basically just want nice things, like everyone else wants: shopping, security in moving about and visiting friends. We want a Senior Center. And more parks. We’d like to see all this happen before we die.
Delilah: I hope this all happens, because my dad is building a new house not far from here. I’ll be moving here soon.
Fist bumps all around, because a NEW house is being built in the neighborhood!
Staff: Are you feeling proud of what you accomplished?
Miss Betty laughingly answered, “Do you really even have to ask that question?!!”
After-interview commentary from the Junior Reporters
Delilah: This interview was not like any of our other interviews. These six ladies got huge benefits from the changes, but they didn’t make any profit. They weren’t motivated by cash. They were motivated by wanting their families and others to just live in a good neighborhood.
Nestor: Now I know that southern Dallas has some of the best changemakers you could ever have.
Delilah: It makes me feel grateful that these women were here to make the changes.
Nestor: I feel like more people are going to want to follow in the footsteps of these women who made everything possible.