At Perry Wellness Center, peers and staff are accustomed to visitors stopping by to learn more about the unique program we offer. About three weeks ago, a delegation arrived from Phoenix Health Center in Warner Robins, Georgia. The organization hopes to start a peer support program in that area and came to observe and ask questions.
The group happened to arrive on one of the busiest mornings in memory at the center. Celebrating its largest retail day since being in existence, Rudy’s Happy Patch market was unloading a truckload of plants to restock for late spring and summer. In the campus gardens, professional landscape designers selected plants for a project. The usual array of morning groups and peer activities were also underway.
When the Warner Robins staff delegation arrived, several Perry Wellness Center staff members met with the group, reviewing their individual job descriptions and how they met the demands of providing services to a peer population. After an enjoyable spaghetti lunch, Perry Wellness Center founder and CEO Stuart Perry joined the group and took time to share organizational information, including potential roadblocks that might be encountered when developing a new peer center.
“You have found that your future job of selling your program might be a challenge,” Stuart noted. “You must first make local citizens aware of the goodness and qualifications of staff members and their dedication to helping those in your coverage area who suffer from mental illness and substance abuse. Mental illness is so misunderstood. I suggest you invite civic leaders to visit your groups and invite them to be a part of your program’s creation. Let them have ownership in the program formation.” He concluded, “We are here to help you as much as we can. Be patient and understand your challenges.”
Melanie Chapman, CPS, CPS-P is the Peer Program Manager for the future peer program. The certified peer specialist explained, “We are very new. We are beginning. We do not have a name, but we have a building. We have two CPS staff member and many eager volunteers and staff who are trying to lead us in the proper direction.”
She continued, “We came to the best mental health provider in Georgia. We want to learn from you all with a dream of taking away your title as the tops in Georgia!”
That is a challenge that will benefit both program. We wish the Phoenix Health Center well!
In the photo above, Stuart Perry, left, greets a planning delegation from Warner Robins. With him are Perry Wellness Center CPS Coordinator Kari Bond, Tiffany Thomas, Nathan Walker, lead peer campus guide Rhonda Hurst, Karen Jolley, CPS, and Michelle Williams, Peer Program Manager at Phoenix Health Center in Warner Robins.