Sherry Rathod is the LeadSafe Outreach Coordinator for the City of Charlotte, Housing and Neighborhood Services Department. Educating the community about lead poisoning and coordinating outreach efforts are among her many responsibilities in this position. Sherry has been with the City of Charlotte for 30 years, starting her career as the Social Service Director with Head Start. She says, “It has come around full circle” since she still works closely with Head Start but now in a different role. When Sherry began her work, she was taking applications and registering people for the Head Start program. Now she interacts with community members and reminds them of ways to keep their families safe. Eight years ago, Sherry started her involvement in lead poisoning prevention work and has continued this work ever since. Despite her change in positions, she continues to keep her social work certification up to date because she still feels that her responsibilities encompass some aspects of social work.
Sherry provides follow-up healthy homes visits and explains to families how they can keep their homes safe from hazards. After examining a home, she provides suggestions the family can implement to increase safety in their house (e.g. safety locks for medicine storage, changing smoke detector batteries, and running a bathroom exhaust fan during showering). In addition, Sherry generates applications for the Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program through outreach at community events. She helps uncertified contractors complete the necessary paperwork to receive their Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) certification for lead-safe work practices. Recently, Sherry participated in a Community Corners event sponsored by the local police department, the parks and recreation department, and Goodwill to inform the community how these departments and organizations can help their families. She also collaborates with WIC, Care Ring, and Safe Kids on a number of outreach efforts.
Sherry admits that there are challenges in her field of work. It is tough keeping up with the workload demands and every day is different. Despite these obstacles, she likes going into the community and bringing awareness to the services her division can offer at no charge. Sherry acknowledges the importance of building trust within the community and she enjoys working one-on-one with families. Sherry is a long-standing, valuable member of the Lead and Healthy Homes Task Force and an asset to the City of Charlotte.