Renaissance House opens its doors to the residents of Historic Southside

dfwnewsa | February 9, 2024 | 0 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News

Renaissance House opens its doors to the residents of Historic Southside

Sandy Joyce, 75, hugs a friend at the opening of The Renaissance House of Terrell Heights at 1201 E. Terrell Ave. in Fort Worth. Joyce, who was born and raised in 76104, has been an advocate for the neighborhood for decades. (David Moreno | Fort Worth Report)
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Sandy Joyce, 75, has seen the Terrell Heights neighborhood in the Historic Southside get overlooked by people outside the community. 

She’s heard countless remarks about the “bad reputation” associated with the neighborhood, which has affected the community’s ability to flourish, said Joyce. 

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“I would hear people say, ‘Oh that’s a bad drug area, you need to be careful.’ And that was not the case,” she said. “We got really bad press.” 

For decades, the Historic Southside has lacked new developments and access to amenities, including grocery stores and clinics. Now, the opening of The Renaissance House of Terrell Heights is leading the way for several revitalization efforts coming to 76104.

The community space, which was co-founded by Jennifer Giddings Brooks and Marnese Elder, welcomed in residents for the first time on Feb. 8. 

How Renaissance House is playing a role in the rebirth of Historic Southside

Located at 1201 E. Terrell Ave., Renaissance House will offer a telemedicine program, in partnership with Teladoc Health, to provide 1,000 residents with access to a licensed doctor for many common health issues, and provide free prescription deliveries to local residents, in partnership with Society of St. Vincent de Paul North Texas. 

Even though the telemedicine program will serve only a limited number of residents, the goal is to grow funding in order to expand and serve more people, said Elder at the opening.

The space also features remodeled leasable office spaces, a community kitchen, and a conference room for neighborhood residents and organizations to use. 

With the opening of Renaissance House, Brooks and Elder hope to tackle the health care disparities that exist in the Historic Southside. 

In 2019, a study from UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas found that residents in the 76104 ZIP code had the shortest life expectancy in Texas: 66.7 years. 

“We want to launch with the intent of access to care,” Elder previously told the Report. “The demographics are deep and well-rounded in the neighborhood. We expect all ages, all ethnicities and races to be able to access care through this program.” 

The Renaissance House has also partnered with United Way of Tarrant County, Cigna Healthcare, Giving Mission Inc. and Rainwater Charitable Foundation for its health services and fundraising efforts. 

“I am so very proud of you two women for getting done what many people have talked about doing but have not quite been able to accomplish,” said Roy Charles Brooks, Tarrant County commissioner of Precinct 1 and husband of Jennifer Giddings Brooks. 

Within its first year, the goal also stands to launch educational programs for students to learn about local Black history and offer an African American library, Brooks said at the opening. 

“Since so many books are being pulled from shelves, we want to make sure that children can come and get books,” she said. “We want to do a lot of other things that share the history of this community.”

Jennifer Giddings Brooks, co-founder of The Renaissance House of Terrell Heights, speaks to guests at the center’s grand opening Feb. 8. (David Moreno | Fort Worth Report)

Guests gather for opening remarks at the launch of The Renaissance House of Terrell Heights. Attendees included Mayor Mattie Parker, Commissioner Roy Charles Brooks, Commissioner Alisa Simmons, District 8 council member Chris Nettles and District 3 council member Michael Crain. (David Moreno | Fort Worth Report)

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For Joyce, the opening of Renaissance House is a step forward for the neighborhood she grew up in and has always loved. 

“(Renaissance House) is important for the community, because all of the entities that are in other areas don’t really exist in our community,” she said. “To have a site that is really for our neighborhood is going to help with the medical problems. I have really wanted desperately for this to happen for years.” 

David Moreno is the health reporter for the Fort Worth Report. His position is supported by a grant from Texas Health Resources. Contact him at david.moreno@fortworthreport.org or @davidmreports on X, formerly known as Twitter.

At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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