Perry Wellness Center sells art and produce

Published 12:47 pm Friday, July 5, 2024

The Perry Wellness Center, on 302 East Furlow St., supports mental health and recovery from substance abuse. The Center held a fundraiser on Saturday, with peers, members who come to the Center for treatment, creating art to support the program.

Rhonda Hubbard, a peer at Perry Wellness Center, explained the fundraiser; “we got a fundraiser at the Perry Wellness Center. We are selling some of the peer’s art, or either donation, and we selling corn, watermelon, tomatoes, peas, peaches, flowers. We got a lot going on today.”

She displayed the pictures she had created; “I like to draw the world.” She talked about the different things she enjoyed putting in her pictures; “butterflies, trees, trains, fish inside of trash cans, fish ponds, playgrounds, butterflies, birds, airplanes, clouds, moon, stars. I put it all on one piece of paper.”

Customers continued to come in as Hubbard described the event; “we [have] donated some of the art already, and we got a little concession stand down on the hill, we got hot dogs, we got sausage dogs, we got funnel cake, we got sweet tea, we got lemonade, we got potato chips, we got it going on today.”

Peer and staff member Kelvin Mullins has been going to the Perry Wellness Center for 25 years. Wearing a corn cap, he talked about the work of the center, telling how it was a program for mental health and substance abuse. “We [are] here for our sobriety and stuff like that, and trying to get ourself better, trying to help other people in the community.” Another peer noted she had been coming to the Center for some time, and had a lot of friends.

Susan Childs, sales floor manager in the market, wore tomato earrings, a Southern Tide ball cap, and a neon green shirt. Childs praised the peer’s art work; “at the Perry Wellness Center, they have days of art, and they are able to express themselves, as you can see.”

Childs told how they work with several farmers within a hundred-mile radius to supply Rudy’s Happy Patch, the Center’s vegetable market: “They bring in fresh produce daily.” She told how they not only have vegetables, but also dessert. “We also have something very unique, homemade ice-cream. Mickey Wiggins, she makes all the ice-cream, and she uses the ingredients that we get from the produce market.” Childs mentioned that Wiggins, their kitchen director, made peach ice-cream and straw berry ice-cream, and was planning on having a sugar free option available soon.

Childs told how the market could be brought to different locations, mentioning festivals. She talked about their reception in Richland: “We set up a mobile market, we sell our flowers there, and we sell our produce there, and they have been very, very supportive.” Childs stated that they have a good relationship with each County they serve. The Center also has plans to start a garden club by the Fall at Perfect Care, an assisted living facility.

In addition to the produce stand, the Center also has a nursery, allowing peers to gain experience working and socializing while selling plants. Childs told how the experience of bringing wilted flowers back to health was therapeutic for the peers, likening it to a Bible study. She told how many peers struggled with feelings of unworthiness, but healing the plants served as a helpful metaphor, and that she would tell peers: “Well this flower looks bad on the outside, but as long as you get a good root system, just like we have a good root system, we can come back to life.”

She talked about how the metaphor sparked the peers’ enthusiasm: “They have a lot of pride when they can look at a plant that’s struggling because of the heat and they bring it back to life.”

Childs mentioned a need for volunteers: “We need good volunteers. Anything from sweeping to just watering.” She talked about needed skills: “if they have any kind of love for people, any kind of horticulture, home ec, any kind of degrees like that, or just anything that they’ve done in their own career, they can come and help, or if they just like flowers. We’re looking for volunteers.”