SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Sankofa Reproductive Health and Healing Center has a room that serves as a resource for the community, especially during their Wellness Wednesdays event.

“Any item that you feel like, you need to be successful and clothe your children and clothe yourself and be content with transitioning to parenthood, that’s what we give out here,” said Sequoia Kemp, a Co-Founder of the center. “Everything is free of charge.”

They have items for older adults too. The center took part in the Central New York Community Foundation’s participatory budgeting grant contest to address lead poisoning. Neighbors in Syracuse voted and chose them to receive $150,000.

“We’re going to have some county nurses come down and be able to provide education and help schedule clients who are interested in receiving lead for themselves and their children,” Kemp shared.

They’ll also use this funding to hire more doulas who work with families throughout all stages of pregnancy and child birth to help improve health outcomes for women of color. Lead poisoning can also impact those health outcomes.

“Preeclampsia is something that a lot of our clients are experiencing,” explained Co-Founder Asteir Bey.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Preeclampsia happens when a woman who previously had normal blood pressure suddenly develops high blood pressure and protein in her urine or other problems after 20 weeks of pregnancy.” The CDC adds, “Some women with preeclampsia can develop seizures. This is called eclampsia, which is a medical emergency.”

Bey added, “Not to mention the high rate of maternal death and illness in our community for Black, Brown, Indigenous people. This kind of education fits right with all the things we are doing already.”

They are here for their community and are grateful the feeling is mutual.

The Sankofa Reproductive Health and Healing Center hopes to start with the lead testing at the center this summer.