Lisa Peyton-Caire, founder and president of the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, has been laying out a plan for a black women’s health and wellness center since 2009 as she was launching Black Women’s Wellness Day and thinking about the kind of space she wanted to create where she could immerse black women in the practice of good health and wellness.

“Now, in 2019, all of the pieces to make that vision come together are right here before us and the opportunity to create this space of what I foresaw all those many years ago,” she tells Madison365. “I am so excited.”

Peyton-Caire and her Foundation For Black Women’s Wellness are taking bold steps in attacking racial health disparities that exist in Dane County by opening the first Black Women’s Health & Wellness Center in the community. They have set up an ambitious goal of raising $100,000 over the next month to outfit the center and prepare for a grand opening later this summer.

The Health and Wellness GoFundMe, has already made it more than halfway to its goal of $100,000 in less than three weeks.

“I didn’t expect this; although I was hoping for it,” Peyton-Caire says. “It’s been exciting to see the community’s response.

“It’s just been amazing to see the power of individual donors. It’s been just over 230 people in 21 days who have helped us get to $50,000 in rapid time,” she adds. “The diversity of the people who have given are representative of the entire Dane County community. It has been joyful for our whole team to witness. We are so appreciative.”

Every year, The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness hosts the Wear Red Day Event & Photo Shoot.

Peyton-Caire notes that Wisconsin is the only state in the U.S. where African-American women’s life expectancy is not improving.

“We know that we lead the nation in racial health disparities. We know the data on the status of black women’s health here in Dane County and across the state,” she says. “We know what that looks like in terms of chronic illness, birth outcomes, economic opportunity and all of the social factors that surround that in terms of housing, employment and opportunity.

“So the urgency of this center is now. We’ve needed this for a very long time. We need direct solutions that touch black women’s lives in an empowering way,” she adds. “That’s what we’re designing in the center.”

The center will be an outgrowth in the empowering work that the Foundation for Black Women’s Health has already done – but scattered all over the community instead of at one place.

“We’ve been using community spaces to do our work which actually has been quite an innovative model for doing our services,” Peyton-Caire says. “We are really appreciative of all of the community partners like the Urban League, Badger Rock [Neighborhood Center], Fountain of Life [Church], Mt. Zion [Church] and so many other places.”

Lisa Peyton-Caire’s mother Roberta W. Peyton, who died at the age of 64 from congestive heart failure, is the inspiration for much of the work she does around black women’s health.

Even with the new home, the Foundation for Black Women’s Health will continue to do those collaborations all over the county.

“We do believe that we have to go where black women are and serve them directly,” Peyton-Caire says. “But that does not override the need for our organization and for the core work that we do every day to be grounded and rooted in a space where we can carry it out and women know where to find us.”

Volunteers and board members have already visited the new center’s offices off Odana Road on Madison’s west side – 6601 Grand Teton Plaza – to help plan for the opening of the center.

“It sits in the 53719 zip code which is neighbored by 53711 [zip code] which are two of the seven most-impacted zip codes in our county for low birthweight and for general health disparities that we know exist in our community,” Peyton-Caire says. “It’s exciting as we envision how we can nest all of our programs under one roof and how much more we can do with the new center.”

Before that can happen, the fundraiser still has a ways to go. Peyton-Caire is grateful for the amazing support she has received so far and is hoping for some more.

“Anna Burish committed $10,000. I really wanted to mention her. We are just elated that gifts as small as $15 and as large as $10,000 have come from individuals across the community who really believe in our mission and in the importance and the urgency of changing the narrative around black women’s health,” she says.