In 2007, this socially cohesive and culturally rich community founded a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization — the Rogers Eubanks Neighborhood Association (RENA) – to formalize a long term adhoc community alliance and movement. As a community-organizing group, RENA needed a place to gather to provide a location for sharing of community resources and development programs.
RENA organized social justice, service, and faith-based organizations in Orange County to form a Coalition to End Environmental Racism (CEER). This group works to create community-driven events, which bring residents of the impacted communities together for the education of the wider community (citizens and local government officials) about critical issues of environmental health and justice. As co-chair of CEER, Minister Campbell, RENA Director David Caldwell, and RENA Board Member Barbara Hopkins have formed working relationships with the Orange County Board of Commissioners (BOCC), the Town of Chapel Hill, and the Town of Carrboro as well as members of the wider Orange County, North Carolina community. RENA has been a part of collaborative work groups such as the Landowners Group, Neighborhood Group, Chapel Hill Small Area Plan Task Force, and Enhancement Task Force.
Further, RENA seeks and strongly values partnerships with local Universities, and has been engaged in four projects with partners at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). One project funded by the Program on Ethnicity and Culture and Health Outcomes (ECHO), Water, Health, and Quality of Life in a Community Bordering a Landfill, investigated the safety of private well water compared to public water and has led to a partnership with the Orange County Health department to address health and welfare concerns of landfill neighbors. A second project, funded by the NC Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute (NC TraCS), Odors, health, and quality of life in a community bordering a landfill, is a longitudinal study of landfill hydrogen sulfide emissions as assessed by environmental measurements, and residents’ diaries of landfill odor and perceived impacts on health. Based on this partnership and others, RENA presented evidence to the Orange County Board prevented the siting of the Waste Transfer Station in their neighborhood, which they maintained would further degrade their neighborhood environment. These and other UNC programs provide a steady stream of approximately 15 volunteers for RENA programs. RENA has also sought partners in the liberal arts section of the community and is currently engaged with the SOHP students to conduct community histories.
In 2010 CEER Co-Chair and RENA President, Minister Campbell presented the Rogers Road story and research findings at NC Environmental Justice Network annual summit. That same year he was invited, as a RENA representative, to the White House Forum on Clean Energy and Public Health where he participated in a discussion with Lisa Jackson, Administrator the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Gregory S. Nelson, White House Office of Public Engagement, Thomas Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and other Federal officials, agency administrators, community leaders, and advocates from around the country about the public health benefits of a clean energy economy.
In the summer of 2010 the RENA Center opened its doors to the neighborhood. Tireless in this effort to open and maintain the center are three committed and compassionate community leaders.