Charlene Hayes buying peasSome of the best customers at Rudy’s Happy Patch Market are Perry Wellness Center customers. It’s hard to beat the convenience of making a market stop on the grounds where one works. Plus, staff are very familiar with the quality of the products and how their purchases help support the important peer work that is being done.

Charlene Hayes is one such market fan. She works as a nurse at the center, ensuring that peers’ medications are monitored correctly and that their physical health is stable. She frequently checks in at the market to pick up some fresh produce. But the market has an additional significance to Miss Charlene: it is named after her late husband.

Charlene Hayes’ ties to Perry Wellness Center go back to a time when founder Stuart Perry was a beginning mental health advocate in Georgia. Along with her husband, Rudy, she participated in the Journey for Life, the 1,000-mile walk to Chicago that was a pioneering effort for a group of local mental health advocates. Rudy Hayes later wrote a book, “Journey for Life,” based on that experience.

On a recent morning, Miss Charlene stopped to chat a moment in the market. “I came by yesterday to buy two bushels of fresh, shelled peas,“ she said. “The crème 40 peas are beautiful, and I came by again this morning to buy another bag.”

Before she left, she added with a smile, “I invite friends and supporters to come by and shop. We still have shelled peas and small-pod okra!”

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