Lenora Smith is the Executive Director of the Partnership Effort for the Advancement of Children’s Health (PEACH), in Durham. She began her work with PEACH in 1998. From the beginning, Lenora sought accessible opportunities for community members and much of her early involvement entailed learning about environmental hazards and community organization.
In 2006, PEACH became a non-profit organization focused on addressing environmental hazards and other social and economic concerns in the community. Lenora surveyed the Durham area and realized there were no prolonged systematic opportunities for people in the community to get involved in lead poisoning education and outreach. In light of this, PEACH transitioned into establishing an infrastructure for community members. As part of this effort, PEACH staff has been teaching Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program (RRP) courses since 2010.
Recently, PEACH received a grant from the City of Durham to complete 50 lead and healthy homes risk assessments in Durham. Through this effort, they will provide lead interim control and healthy homes intervention and create an agreement with each household to establish on-going meetings. The overarching goal of this grant is to empower the residents to learn how to identify hazards in their homes, how to mitigate the issue, and connect them with resources in the community.
Lenora’s favorite part of her job is creating income opportunities for community residents. She admits that it is difficult providing services with inconsistent income but now that she has staff assisting her, she is able to expand the organization’s opportunities and look for additional funding and partnerships. PEACH relies on a dedicated volunteer work force and Lenora says, “I cannot tell you how gratifying it is to have a staff working with me, knowing that what they receive in pay is totally inconsistent with the work they do”. Lenora values opening up pathways for existing entrepreneurial resources and providing opportunities for people in the community.
To this day, PEACH is still defining its role as an environmental non-profit organization. Lenora expresses, “the whole concept of living in a healthy home is non-negotiable, regardless of your socio-economic status, it is very important that the place you live is not making you sick”. Lenora has been a part of the Lead and Healthy Homes Task Force since 2001 and she enjoys hearing how other organizations and agencies protect children from lead exposure and learning how she can improve her own work.