Charlene Hayes has been a mental health advocate for many years. Over 17 years ago, she and her late husband, Rudy Hayes, accompanied Stuart Perry on his “Journey for Life” advocacy walk to Chicago. As Rudy later explained in his book about the advocacy campaign:
“Its purpose was for Stuart to make an exhausting three-month, thousand-mile walk from Americus to the American Medical Association national headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. Along the way, Stuart would carry his message of awareness to the American People: Depression is an illness just as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. It should not be stigmatized and can be successfully treated in most cases.”
Since that time, Charlene has continued the legacy of advocacy and caregiving. As a trained nurse, she has provided thousands of hours of hands-on care to individuals with a variety of physical and mental health problems. Now she uses her skills as a part-time registered nurse at Perry Wellness Center, where she advises and monitors the health of some 77 peers each week.
"My husband, Rudy, and Stuart had a unique friendship,” Charlene Hayes explains. The Hayes-Perry connection continues through her compassionate work at the center Each day on campus, she passes the sign for Rudy’s Happy Patch Market, named for her husband, a former newspaper editor, writer, and mental health consumer. It seems fitting that she finds herself continuing his legacy in her own way, using her medical skills to help lighten the load for many on their own journeys for life.
Thanks for all you do, Charlene!
In the photo above, Charlene Hayes, RN completes medical documentation after a peer visit.