By Jay Vondra

I grew up in a small suburb of Chicago, a stone’s throw from the nation’s third largest city. I ditched the cold climate and high taxes for a slower, warmer lifestyle. 

My wife is a native Texan and grew up in Lakeside, Texas. We first came across our house in Jenkins Heights in 2005 and have been in the same home since. This is where we raised our daughter and son from kindergarten to college.

The community was originally designed to be a retirement community, with very manageable 1,000-square-feet homes, one-story floor plans with large lots (1/3 acre) and 1-car garages. 

I grew up in a fitness-based family and continue to be active by teaching martial arts and gardening. Being surrounded by three beautiful lakes — Marine Creek, Eagle Mountain and Lake Worth — makes staying active easy. 

We have biking trails around Marine Creek Lake. It’s also one of the best places to kayak. The Fort Worth Nature Reserve is practically in our backyard. From Marion Sansom Park, you can see the most amazing and breathtaking sunset over Lake Worth. 

You can go from being within walking or biking distance from major grocery, shopping, and restaurants, to being on country backroads in minutes and feeling like you’re 1,000 miles from any city.

Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD schools have also been a wonderful place to watch our kids grow and practice martial arts at Champion Martial Arts.

I love Fort Worth’s commitment to its Blue Zone Project, a nationwide initiative to create healthy communities that focus on healthy lifestyle changes. Our home has been a place for us to be able to do that.

We are free to garden, raise chickens and ducks in a very nice sized backyard, which we love to do and share our crops with our neighbors — just like my grandparents used to do.

We love Fort Worth’s commitment to health and longevity and look forward to being a part of its growth.

Jay Vondra is a native of Chicago. He is the owner of Main Street Martial Arts in Lewisville and a former gymnast. When he’s not training, he enjoys spending time with his family and tending to his garden and chickens. 

To tell the story of where you live, please send your essay to and Managing Editor Thomas Martinez at

Jenkins Heights

Total population: 2,153
Female: 52% | Male: 48%

0-9: 17%
10-19: 9%
20-29: 14%
30-39: 17%
40-49: 12%
50-59: 10%
60-69: 11%
70-79: 3%
80 and older: 8%

No degree: 13%
High school: 26%
Some college: 48%
Bachelor’s degree: 10%
Post-graduate: 3%

White: 50% | Asian: 1% | Hispanic: 40% | Black: 9% | Two or more: 0%

Click on the link to view the schools’ Texas Education Agency ratings:

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Sandra Sadek

Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. Originally from Houston, she graduated from Texas State University where she studied journalism and international...