Repurposed ObjectsAs a wellness and recovery program, Perry Wellness Center encourages creative expression from participating peers. Many peer groups provide learning opportunities, and several peers continue with their own craft projects and artwork.


Longtime peer leader Rhonda Hubbard is one individual who uses her creative expression as both an outlet for herself and an opportunity to make unique gifts for friends. For example, she has given woven mats to former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, and made numerous Christmas gifts for family and friends. Rhonda enjoys painting and lately has begun repurposing such items as frames and wooden boxes, which become colorful, one-of-a-kind gifts.


“I like to be creative and express myself in bright colors,” Rhonda explains. “Color excites me, and people I give things to also enjoy my colors.”


In the photo above, Rhonda Hubbard poses with several of her recent creations, including a small face frame.

Connie Rutherford ProjectsSince the establishment of the original Tom Perry Wellness Center on the Plains Highway and the relocation of the center, post-tornado, to its current East Furlow Street location, several longtime peers and staff have been associated with the mental health and substance abuse recovery program. One such peer, Connie Rutherford, enjoys recollecting early days with Stuart Perry when the program began.

“Stuart Perry is a great man, a great friend, and supporter of mine,” Connie says. “I enjoy calling him my friend.”

The feeling is definitely mutual. Connie works hard on not only her own recovery, but the well-being of others. Between groups and routine chores at the center, she always finds time to plans creative projects for her peers.

“I like to expand my mind and be creative,” she explains. “I am blessed to be able to take magazines, colored pages, and plan design projects for my peer friends. It is fun, and they seem to enjoy the projects.”

In the photo above, Connie Rutherford pulls together magazine pages for another creative project. 

Red GeraniumsDuring the spring and summer months, it is difficult to walk along any campus path without spotting the brilliant red geraniums that are a Perry Wellness Center staple.

“Geraniums, in all of their colors, are a favorite flower during this time of year,” says PWC founder and CEO Stuart Perry. “When Pam and I sold plants in Buena Vista, at my dad’s service station, I recall that red geraniums were our most popular flower. Customers told us to bring more color from our at-home greenhouse.”

In the photo above, the west entrance to Perry Wellness Center provides a jolt of color with a bed of red geraniums. Later in the season, other colors will join the array of welcoming plants.

Alison Hayes GoolsbyNew staff member Alison Hayes Goolsby is following a family tradition in her association with Perry Wellness Center. Her parents, Rudy and Charlene Hayes, helped lay the groundwork for Stuart Perry’s decades as a mental health advocate and provider. Rudy accompanied Stuart on his Journey for Life (a 1,000-mile walk to advocate for medical depression screening) and later wrote the book of the same name. Rudy’s Happy Patch Market was named for the late Perry friend and mental health advocate. Charlene provides critical nursing services to peers at Perry Wellness Center.

“My mom and dad taught me the value of caring about others,” Alison explains. “My daddy and Stuart go back a long way with their walk. My mother works at Perry Wellness Center, and now I join her. Staff at the center must have a personal experience of dealing with substance abuse or other mental issues. Such an experience builds increased compassion for peers and others.”

Alison’s life path has reflected her commitment to helping others. A 1991 graduate of Americus High School and a 1996 graduate of Georgia Southwestern State University, she earned her degree in psychology, with a minor in sociology. She has worked in a variety of healthcare settings since then.

“I began at America’s Counseling day treatment for emotionally challenged kids,” she recalls. “I then worked at Phoebe-Putney Hospital in public relations and marketing. I also worked at Perfect Care [assisted living] in their activity department.”

During her career, Alison also devoted 15 years to a most important “helping profession”: being a fulltime, stay-at-home mom to her three children, Riley, now 17, Ansley, 15, and Sadie-Grace, 6.

Alison cites her awareness of mental health issues and her family background in the mental health friend as factors that influenced her educational and vocational choices and concludes, “I made the right choice, and I am happy to be with my mother at Perry Wellness Center. I still like to work with people in need of a better life and help them learn to handle things that might come their way.”

Alison, pictured above, is now researching information and requirements in order to become a Certified Peer Specialist and further continue her family’s legacy of giving back. Welcome to PWC, Alison! We know that both of your parents must be very proud.

Tiffany ChristopherLately, market staff have noticed an increase in customers from Buena Vista and other Marion County towns. As the area was the boyhood home of Perry Wellness Center founder Stuart Perry, he is always delighted to discover hometown visitors to Rudy’s Happy Patch Market. 

Tiffany Christopher, an avid gardener from Tazewell, visited the market recently to select spring and summer garden additions. She admitted she still learning and said, “I hope I can plant these plants and keep them living. My husband, Kenneth, is sometimes unhappy with my hobby with plants. But this spread of snowball plants will get anyone’s attention. I had to have one to add to my other plants.”

In the photo above, Tiffany Christopher selects the fullest snowball plant from the large selection in the gardens of Perry Wellness Center.


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