A recent pre-dawn trip to Atlanta may have been a bit challenging for a group of local residents, but the reward was worth the lost sleep and drive through darkness. After all, it’s not every day that Perry Wellness Center is notified that it is receiving legislative recognition!
Near the end of each legislative session in Georgia, several notable individuals are recognized in both the State House of Representatives and the Senate. This year, local Representative Mike Cheokas chose to recognize our own Stuart Perry, founder and CEO of Perry Wellness Center and longtime local, state, and national mental health advocate.
Stuart was invited to attend a reading of a resolution honoring him at the state capitol. Thus, the early-bird drive to Atlanta was made by a representative group of peers, staff, and family. Upon arrival at the capitol chamber, the visitors were privileged to stand with legislators and visitors throughout the state.
When Representative Cheokas approached the front of the chamber, a hush fell on the floor of the House. Rep. Cheokas began his presentation with some remarkable words: “Stuart Perry is my hero!” He continued, “Please join me in welcoming Stuart and Pam Perry, their daughter Amanda, and some staff members and peers of Perry Wellness Center.” Those present recognized the group from Americus.
Rep. Cheokas had prepared a formal Resolution that described the creation of Perry Wellness Center and enumerated the many advocacy activities of its founder. The Resolution was read to the assembled group, bringing a great sense of pride to the visitors from southwest Georgia.
Following is the resolution in its entirety:
By Mike Cheokas, State Representative from the 138th district --
1. Recognizing and commending Stuart Perry and for other purposes.
2. WHEREAS, Stuart Perry founded the Perry Wellness Center located in Americus. Georgia and he has been a national behavioral health advocate for almost 30 years; and WHEREAS, at the age of 21, he witnessed the suicide of his father, who suffered from depression, and for years after, he struggled with feelings of loss and his own depression; and WHEREAS, he was diagnosed with major depression until a psychotic break in 1989 led him to mental health treatment, and after hospitalization, medication, and group therapy, Mr. Perry began his road to mental health; and WHEREAS, this past year, he celebrated 20 full years of recovery, and since brought to the brink, his journey has been one of advocacy, promoting the importance of recognizing mental illness and the values of treatment; and WHEREAS, prior to establishing the Perry Wellness Center, Stuart worked with the Mental Health Association and Middle Flint Behavioral HealthCare in several roles, such as consumer specialist, case manager, public speaker, and advocate; and WHEREAS, in 1994, he became one of the first consumer specialists to be certified in Georgia, and since then, his accomplishments have included the Consumer Empowerment of the Year Award, Welcome Back Lifetime Achievement Award from Eli Lilly, John Locke Award, first annual GOAL-Go On and Live Award from the Governor, Clifford W. Beers Award from the Mental Health Association, and Provider of the Year Award from Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network; and WHEREAS, Mr. Perry gained national recognition with his Journey for Life, a walk from Americus, Georgia, to Chicago, Illinois, sponsored by the Mental Health Association to deliver a message to the American Medical Association about mental illness recognition and treatment; and WHEREAS, armed with thousands of petition signatures and accompanied by hundreds of other walkers at different points on his journey, he spoke to mental health and civic groups at every stop along the way; and WHEREAS, with the support of such advocates as former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and Habitat for Humanity co-founders Millard and Linda Fuller, he became a national force for mental health recovery, and the story of his journey is preserved in his book, Journey for Life; and WHEREAS, it is abundantly fitting and proper that the outstanding accomplishments of this remarkable and distinguished Georgian be appropriately recognized.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES that the members of this body recognize and commend Stuart Perry for his exemplary service as a mental health advocate.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Clerk of the House of Representatives is authorized and directed to make appropriate copies of this resolution available for distribution to Stuart Perry.
With the ending of this reading, all members of the House of Representatives and the chamber quickly arose with thunderous applause for the mental health efforts of Stuart Perry.
The original copy of this resolution will hang in the offices of Perry Wellness Center, where it will take its place alongside the aforementioned awards. Citizens are invited to visit Perry Wellness Center to celebrate these citations of our own local hero.
In the photo above, members of the Perry Wellness Center family stand with Rep. Cheokas at the State capitol building. They include, top row: Stuart Wilkerson, Jeff Williams; middle row: Stuart Perry, Kelly Jasmine. Jackie Teasley, Andrew Johnson; front row: Rep. Mike Cheokas, Rhonda Hubbard, Annie Ruth Thomas, Amanda Perry, Pam Perry, and Rep. Penny Houston.