Early on, Angela Peaker, 46, recognized that computer access wasn’t enough to help people achieve self-sufficiency.
The neighborhood center at Edgewood’s Village of Lakeview, a government-subsidized housing community, offered computers for job-seeking residents, but connecting to the internet was just one step among myriad challenges.
“People have life barriers such as inadequate child care, lack of reliable transportation, limited education and pressing family issues that they must face every day before thinking about looking for a job,” says Peaker, who has been director of the complex’s Neighborhood Network Community Center for more than a decade.
Over the years, Peaker created programs to deal with these issues head on. Among them are an after-school program, a summer camp, a neighbor-to-neighbor mediation program, housekeeping training and financial literacy programs.
Peaker was recently promoted to oversee other U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development community centers in the Mid-Atlantic, and members of the community say she’s made a big impact.
“Miss Angela tries to bring happiness and joy when she is here. You can trust her, and you don’t have to worry,” says Aliya Giles, 17, who was a student in the community center’s after-school program and now works as an assistant teacher. “The kids just love her. She’s awesome, for real.”
Peaker says some people have preconceived notions about residents of public housing communities, but she sees past those.
“You will find regular, hard-working people here,” says Peaker. “There are elderly people who are just as loving as your grandmother and fathers who are a part of their children’s lives.”