Before the Star-Telegram published reporter Jeff Caplan’s series about life on the Las Vegas Trail, it’s hard to say how much people in Fort Worth knew about this beleaguered community on the west side of town.
How many people passed the Knights Inn on West Freeway not knowing that a young girl lived a nightmare of repeated physical and sexual abuse within its walls?
How many people realized that kindergartners and first graders attending Western Hills Elementary must cross multiple lanes of busy traffic — without parents to supervise them — on their walks home from school?
Most of us probably avoid the area because we have some vague understanding that it is somewhere we don’t want to be, but have never quite understood just how bad life there really is for those who call it home.
Now we do.
And we cannot possess this knowledge and continue to do nothing.
To the credit of many people in Fort Worth, the response to this community’s crisis has been strong.
Dialogues about how to help have sprung up in community social media pages.
School supply drives for the students of Western Hills Elementary are underway.
A Facebook page — LVT Love — was started to coordinate these efforts.
City leaders are starting to take notice of this neglected part of the city, too.
Mayor Betsy Price, City Councilman Brian Byrd and Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald toured Las Vegas Trail in June.
Lt. Kirk Driver of the Fort Worth Police Department already has the city’s support to implement the “Leveraging Project,” which will help connect residents with social services and job training opportunities.
But real transformation of life on the Trail won’t come from the government. It must come from the surrounding communities — churches, businesses and citizens who have a spare afternoon to tutor a child or mentor someone recovering from an addiction. The responsibility is ours.
The immediate response is encouraging. We need to ensure it is sustained.
Learn what you can do to help by attending the Star-Telegram’s community forum at Western Hills Primary School this Wednesday, August 16 at 6 p.m.