Close-Knit Conquista

By John Grossi

Scooters, chalk, basketballs, screaming, shouting, singing, laughing, water balloons, silly string, tag, slides, lawn chairs, wine, conversation…perfection.


“I feel like without actually saying it… everyone wished they lived on a street like this and then instead of wishing we somehow made it come true,” laughs Nancy Simons, resident of Conquista near Heartwell Park.


Nancy’s husband Brad adds in “If you have friends or family over to your house and want privacy don’t have them in the front yard, because next thing you know the whole street’s going to come over!”


Nancy says she thinks that participating in the WE LOVE LB quarterly events (check out welovelb.org to learn more) helped encourage neighbors into their front yard. Add in a healthy mix of kids around the same age, and now Conquista feels more like a community than a street.


Shannon Demboski is another neighbor and mom on Conquista. She says can’t even imagine

life without this set of neighbors anymore. “Oh my gosh- they’re my lifeline. We are each other’s babysitters, sisters, friends, errand runners, we borrow food almost every day from each other. I can’t imagine doing life without them- I really can’t.”


Her husband Paul Demboski says the secret is the front yard. “It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy- if you stay outside people talk to you and you meet each other.”


Paul says that when his family moved to the street originally it was a very quiet street.


“It was just the turnover new people came into the neighborhood and it’s just one of those

things when you see people outdoors you’re more likely to come over. We’re outside almost every single day now.”

During COVID the street’s bond has only gotten stronger. A group text for the street includes 30 separate households and displays a never-ending scroll of neighbors asking for help and other neighbors offering help.


“I’m out of eggs, can anyone help?” “I’m getting pizza, does anyone want any?”


Jenny Reeder and her family moved to the block in 2019 and felt especially thankful to be

there during the pandemic.


“This past year, the families on this street were my family and the kids did not have to suffer because they were able to play outside in the street with other kids!” she says. “Instead of

using electronics, phones, iPads, our kids get to grow up like we did. Young and older kids all play together for hours outside— they’re a family.”


For Nancy Simons, entering her 10th year on the street, the close-knit community is everything she could ask for and more. “We say ‘These are everyone’s kids’ we all feel like we have the

right to say ‘hey don’t do that,’ or ‘did you ask your parents?’ We watch out for everyone. For

me and my family it’s been really helpful. We have a child on the spectrum and sometimes he likes to escape outside, and when he does I’ll immediately get like 6 messages.”


Her husband Brad acknowledges that the acceptance of their special needs son on this street is worth more than anything. “He just comes and mixes in with everyone else, there’s no judgement on this street even among the kids. Just family.”

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