Like a lot of people, it was a wedding that brought Benita Perkins to Durham.
But it wasn’t her own.
No, Perkins was already married when her husband, Curtis, and she ventured down South for the wedding of a friend’s daughter in 2017.
On that weekend visit something clicked, she said.
“I guess I was already in that mode of transition,” she said. “I felt that New Jersey had run its course.”
After a couple of “field trips” back to check the area out more closely, she said, the family moved to the Bull City, and that’s where she is planting her fitness flag.
The New Jersey native and Wellesley graduate, who is certified in both athletics fitness and sports medicine, got a contract working with Durham County, providing wellness programs for employees.
Her ultimate goal, though, is to host wellness events to improve the physical, mental and emotional health of women, she said.
That’s what she was already doing in Philadelphia and New Jersey and, she said, “that’s one of the reasons I came here.”
On Saturday, Oct. 15, Perkins is hosting the first Healthy Heritage Lifestyle Sisters’ Day of Wellness at NCCU’s School of Education at 700 Cecil Street.
While there was nothing good about the Covid pandemic that put everything on hold for near about everybody, Perkins said that the delay it caused in her business plan “allowed me to meet the players, the people in the health industries, in the churches” who could help her in her mission. “I didn’t really know the area very well and that allowed me more time” to contact the people who could help her fulfill her mission.
Many wellness programs, she said, focus on disease, health disparities, hypertension. “We’re doing something different. We’re focused on what we’re going to do about it," she said. "This isn’t going to be ‘a woe-is-me, somebody did somebody wrong song’ event.
“We know that, according the CDC, 44 percent of Black women are not overweight, but obese. But we’re not going to dwell on that. We’re going to have incredible women who are at the top of their game providing incredible knowledge. We’re going to have a naturopath, a vegan chef giving a cooking demonstration, a nutritionist talking about the food decisions we make and a psychiatrist who’ll talk about the ways we sabotage ourselves.
“And you get lunch. That’s a lot for $25.”
So passionate is she about women's health, she said, that this inaugural event is being funded mainly “out of pocket” – hers.
“This is a community event,” Perkins said, “and we’re hoping to get more sponsors and for them to come back next year. We want it to become self-sustaining. To do that, we have to have people from the community in the seats.”
Check the website – www.healthyheritagelifestyle.com - to see if tickets are still available, and if they are, grab a couple, because what better gift to bestow upon a friend than access to good health?