MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - For the month of February, WMBF News will celebrate Black History Month by highlighting amazing women in our community who you should know.
Our series called She Thrives: Black Women Making History Today, introduces the community to women who are striving to make a difference, and empower others.
One Horry County woman takes the spotlight for her efforts to bring culture and hope to the community.
Patrice Reynolds, 45, hasn't called Horry County home very long, but her work and dedication to this community will be felt for decades to come. Her success has been met with hardship, but she's a true example of why one should always go after their dreams.
When you step inside the P. Reynolds Jazz Restaurant and Theatre, you immediately step back in time. “We stick with classic standard jazz, authentic, I like the 1940′s feel,” said Reynolds.
She’s put a lot into the décor of the restaurant to make it feel like an old-time jazz club. There are pictures of some of the greatest jazz musicians and singers like, Billie Holiday, Sarah Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong, on the wall. The dim lights and candles make you feel cool, calm, and collected.
Reynolds added, “I want you to come in and feel like you've stepped back in time.”
The restaurant opened for business in the fall of 2018, but customers are ‘digging’ the spot that features, local musicians, who can show up on Thursday nights and sign up to share their talents.
Reynolds said she wanted give artists a platform to share their music.
Musicians are featured on Friday and Saturday nights as well.
Reynolds said while opening the restaurant she faced challenges, but she didn’t let anything stop her.
“There were many challenges, a lot of people thought I was too young to do what I'm doing, a lot of people thought I didn't fit the image of what was going on, the main thing is I pretended that it would never affect me,” explained Reynolds.
Reynolds believes it’s her purpose to be a Horry County resident. It started in Maryland, where she’s originally from, when she met an Air Force man by the name of Charles Pate.
“He retired, and he wanted to go after his dream. His dream was to come to Myrtle Beach and go to the Golf Academy,” Reynolds said. “In 2012 we came here, got married, and we had a wonderful, wonderful four years.”
Pate was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but Reynolds says even then, her husband never gave up on his dream. He earned his Associate’s degree from the Golf Academy, and his Bachelor’s from Coastal Carolina University.
“Then he went back and got his Masters, and it was only a month later he died,” said Reynolds.
She says looking back at her husband-- pursue all the things he wanted in life, began what she called a quick healing.
“I said, ‘Hey I got two choices, I could sit here and die as a young widow, or I could make some decisions, and find hope, and hold on to it, and continue to live out my life as happily as I could,’” Reyolds said.
Reynolds said she found hope in some of the things she truly loved to do like, sing, write, and theatre. She decided to use all that passion to help inspire others.
“If I had to describe myself in life, my name should have been Hope, because that’s exactly what I like to give people, that is exactly what I have to have in order to live,” said Reynolds. “For death to actually turn out to be beautiful because of what they’re legacy was and what they left behind, and the lives that they’ve changed it makes it a beautiful thing.”
Reynolds' jazz restaurant was actually her husband’s dream, in his death, she said he gave her hope to get it started, and she wants it to speak about his legacy.
But when she’s not operating the restaurant she serves as the executive director for the non-profit organization, Greater Vision of Horry County, dedicated to empowering the community.
The organization offers programs for job placement, skill and trade classes, homeless assistance, and other outreach programs, based on individual community needs. Reynolds said she had to learn the community and discovered what they needed, that’s how she discovered that many elderly seniors needed help with technology, so she created a program.
“(I created a program) for Seniors to be trained on how to use their remote, how to use their phone, keep in touch with their grandkids on Facebook, I partnered with HTC to do that,” she said.
Reynolds said she recognized some rural communities that needed to be introduced to the arts.
“What I do know is that art heals, it takes your mind off of things it takes you out of your own life,” she passionately said.
Reynolds started the Dream House Theatre, which is part of Greater Vision program. Performances are done on the stage, right next door to the restaurant, students are offered free acting classes and learn about stage production. There is now a new program recently opened the Dream House of Loris.
“We would offer training, acting 101, students learn how to run the light board, how to run the sound board, and maybe inspire them to want to do theatre,” said Reynolds.
The programs are free, and all part of the community outreach, to hopefully inspire students to want to try new jobs, skills, and trades. Reynolds says she’s working to build a brand, and she doesn’t rest for long.
“I’m most comfortable when I’m doing at least three projects at one time, that’s when I’m in my zone,” said Reynolds. “P. Reynolds is going to become a house hold name you are going to see a lot of P. Reynolds in a lot of major cities!”
Reynolds said she’s dedicated now more than ever to fulfilling her purpose to reach others that need hope.
“Don’t give up on your dreams do not give up, let me help you find what that purpose is, I might not find all of them, but I want to help you discover who you are, and how powerful as a woman, that you are, because that’s the exact lesson that I needed, that I had to get from a death, from sorrow, and you don’t have to go through sorrow to get that message.”
Reynolds added her late husband, was an excellent writer. She said she took all of his essays and plans to publish a book that features his work, that will be available this Spring.
She said she’s currently working on a producing a short documentary film.