History was made in Madison on Feb. 1 as the Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness Center officially launched the first wellness center dedicated to serving black women and girls. The event was packed from wall to wall.
The center’s burnt orange walls and West African-inspired decor wrapped around each room at 6601 Grand Teton Plaza, Suite A2. Snapshots of the Foundation’s Founder Lisa Peyton Caire and her army of board members, sponsors and volunteer ambassadors hung in gold victorian frames.
A panel of orange and green West African inspired wallpaper decorated the wall behind Peyton-Caire and her team welcomed the growing crowd.
The Grand Opening of the center marks a “new rendition of the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness,” Peyton-Caire said. This new rendition of empowering Black women in Madison was well received as people continued to pour into the event.
“We are starting a new chapter in Black women’s history today,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.
Sponsors, contributors and ambassadors, who were instrumental in making the brick-and-mortar center possible, were all acknowledged for welcoming Peyton-Caire and her vision.
Special shout outs were given to Healthy Dane, A Fund for Women, Operation Fresh Start, former School Board Member Mary Burke, and the Wisconsin Partnership Program, to name a few. In between each thanks, guests cheered and drums played by community pillar Rockameem Bell bounced off every surface.
“The only thing I have to say is to lift up Lisa,” said Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes Conway who showed her support at the Grand Opening.
“You have a vision,” she added, addressing Peyton-Caire. “I lift up your vision. I lift up your incredible work.”
The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness was established in June of 2012 with a mission of eliminating health disparities and barriers impacting the lives of women. The foundation was created in honor of Peyton-Caire’s mother Roberta W. Peyton, who died at 64 years old from congestive heart failure. The ideas for the foundation began to blossom shortly after her mother’s death while Peyton-Caire was “grappling with grief at a laptop,” she said.
Before she passed, Roberta Caire owned and operated a hair salon called the Beauty Hut. Peyton-Caire said that opening the salon was one of her mother’s dreams. The Beauty Hut and her mother’s drive “raised a generation of [her] family up three, four, five notches,” she said. When addressing the audience, Peyton-Caire showcased a portrait of her late mother to emphasize the importance of her legacy.
Today, Peyton-Caire continues on her mother’s legacy through the foundation, which now serves over 2,000 women in Dane County. The foundation offers engaging classes that emphasize physical and fitness activity, financial literacy and leadership development. Through its advocacy work, FFBWW also works diligently to raise awareness on Black women’s health, namely Black maternal-child health disparities.
Madison resident and FFBWW volunteer Erica Marty said that she’s happy to see the center come to life. Marty was introduced to the center through a co-worker who invited her to one of the Foundation’s weekly walks around the State Capitol. Since her first stroll with Foundation, she said it has positively impacted her health and connected her with new friends across the city of Madison.
“I just love being here and helping out and just the spirit of it all,” she said. “So yeah, I volunteer wherever I can show up and support and do whatever they need me to do.”
Peyton-Caire said that the center will be holding a press conference on Feb. 20 to announce next steps for the Foundation.
“Our entire community will be better when every Black woman in Dane County is truly well,” said Rhodes-Conway.