Conversation cornerOver the last few weeks, the plant and garden area off the lower parking lot of Perry Wellness Center has been redesigned. As a result, a group of peers and friends at the center have selected this spot for their morning gathering. Even though August days are hot, cooler mornings allow for conversation among the group.

Those who assemble there like to discuss current events, personal stories, and news that might affect their lives. Perry Wellness Center founder and CEO Stuart Perry encourages the face-to-face discussions.

“When we are not in groups, I think it is good for these friends to meet in this seasonal area and talk,” Stuart notes. “With the increased use of texting and cell phones, personal communication seems to be less and less. I appreciate the time of sharing thoughts with each other.”

The level of conversation will only rise as the temperatures decrease, and both peers and staff eagerly await the cooler mornings of fall.

Goal JournalsFor anyone who has ever kept a daily diary or journal, the value of personal review and reflection is helpful in making life improvements. In a recent SMARTS Goal group, Meagan Owens led peers in developing their personal journals.

Each peer in the group received a new composition tablet, along with colorful markers and pens. Peers were asked to personalize their own journals, as goal-setting and monitoring were reviewed.

“These new books are theirs,” Owens, a certified peer specialist explained. “They will increase ownership of the books and their entries in these books. As we review their entries, we will discuss with them what we can do to accomplish their goals for life improvement.”

In the photo above, left to right, Jeannette Williams, Awan Smith, Brittany McCumbers, CPS, Meagan Owens, CPS, and Tamika Brown work on peer goals.

Peer LeadershipAs founder and CEO of Perry Wellness Center, Stuart Perry has learned an important lesson: peer leadership begins with his own example. While he is proud to have a dedicated staff and many peer volunteers, he knows that planning and delegation can’t be the only tools in his management “tool box.”

Stuart established Perry Wellness Center as part of his own journey to recovery. It was founded on the principle of peers leading peers. Because of his own battle with depression, Stuart claims the title of “peer” with pride.

With that title comes his expectation that he should be willing to pitch in as needed. He spends much of his time in planning, public outreach, and administrative tasks, but hsi heart lies in coaching others, whether in sports or life lessons. One important task of any coach is serving as a role model.

So it is not unusual to find Stuart pushing a lawn mower or filling a cooler. Recently, he took on the task of helping unload some of the 8600 watermelons that were donated to PWC. As pictured above, he carried freshly picked Chase corn to a cooler.

For those who think the work life of a CEO is all business lunches and fundraisers, stop by Perry Wellness Center to see peer leadership in action.

Rick PriceWhen visitors stop by Perry Wellness Center or Rudy’s Happy Patch Market, they can rest assured that interaction with staff and peers will be present. One of the reasons that the market was established was to provide a way for peers interact with the public, while visitors learned more about mental health in a non-threatening environment.

To ensure that peers’ interaction with visitor, staff, and each other is a positive experience, PWC founder and CEO Stuart Perry coaches peers on appropriate social behavior. He explains, “We have groups and session most every week to address personal behavior and non-offensive conversation. I am sure that I miss things, but my staff works hard to stem any possible conflicts.”

Stuart himself enjoys nothing more than greeting visitors and engaging in conversation on sports, market activity, or local current events. As someone who once struggled with depression, he knows the value of maintaining good communication and friendships.

Here, Stuart Perry visits with longtime friend, Rick Price, left, at Rudy’s Happy Patch Market.

Heat WaveHeat advisories are in effect throughout Southwest Georgia, and peers and staff at Perry Wellness Center are aware of the dangers of the triple-digit heat. While the busy center never slows down, activities have been taken inside more fully in recent days.

 

There is no such thing as “down time” for peers, who continue to attend several groups each day. With less reliance upon outdoor activities, group facilitators have created a variety of groups to address diverse peer needs and interests.

 

PWC founder and CEO Stuart Perry highlights one example: “We are trying to address the varied backgrounds of our peer population. As we discover these differences we are increasingly aware of our need to add problem resolution to our curriculum.”

 

Several peers enjoy exploring media and technology, so they have been researching equipment options. Peers, Patrick Pilcher --above, left – and Paul Dixon take a break to watch a movie on Paul’s new CD/DVD player. Having put his research to work, Paul notes, “I read the advertisement for this machine and walked to Walmart to buy one. I get the movies from different pawn shops.”

Meanwhile, with a forecast of cooler weather, peers are eager for fall temperatures to arrive.

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