Spotlight: Lisa's Peer Education visits take off!


Lisa Matthews' reputation as a connected community member precedes her - she has been helping her neighbors get access to, and navigate, area resources for years.  Among the important community work Lisa dedicates her time to, she has made providing her neighbors with lead education visits as a community educator one of her priorities.  She has been instrumental in helping the peer education group she is a member of complete 44 peer-to-peer lead education visits in a matter of months, half of which have been completed by Lisa or her husband, David.

Lisa was part of the inaugural training group of community educators in Healthy Homes’ peer-to-peer lead education program this spring. Developed in partnership with the University of Michigan to help local families learn more about lead, these free lead education workshops take place in the family’s home, conducted by a community peer educator. The community peer educators are not Healthy Homes staff, but rather peers, and more importantly, neighbors to the families with whom they are working. Because parent community peer educators like Lisa largely live in the high-risk lead areas and have wide networks of friends, family, and neighbors to connect with about this important issue.  This, says Lisa, has been a major key to the success of the program. “It’s easier to connect with people who share your experience... people that look and talk like you, and have a similar story to share,” she says.  

Two years ago, Lisa became involved with Parents for Healthy Homes because her grandson had been exposed to lead.  She has been busy since then, graduating from the Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI), a national parent leadership training program; leading the Parents for Healthy Homes advocacy group; and speaking out about the importance of protecting our community’s future on a local and national level. Since Lisa was already sharing her story through her work as a Parents for Healthy Homes leader, the Peer Education Program easily mobilized her desire to help families living with lead dangers in their homes.  Lisa’s passion for protecting our community’s children is what has helped make her visits so popular, welcome and effective. As a result, she’s now getting word of mouth referrals and has to keep a waiting list of interested neighbors that want her to visit their homes.

Lisa and this inaugural class of community educators completed training this past spring; since then, the Peer Education program has conducted 44 visits and connected nearly a dozen homeowners to the Get the Lead Out! Program for help with lead remediation. Lisa enlisted people in her own networks, including her husband David, her sister Darnell and brother-in-law Ira as community educators to help spread the word about the dangers of lead.  The entire group is moving quickly because they understand the urgency. They know kids are hurting, and they are prepared to do something about it. They are neighbors in our community fighting to end unsafe housing conditions for children through the Peer Education program.

Kids are hurting. What are you prepared to do? Reach out if you are interested in learning more about Peer Education and ways you can engage, be active and help!