Garden project helps those with mental illness, substance abuse problems cope

Garden project helps those with mental illness, substance abuse problems cope
"I had an addiction, and I needed something to keep me occupied," said Henry Stephens, a peer at Perry Wellness Center. (Source: WALB)
"I had an addiction, and I needed something to keep me occupied," said Henry Stephens, a peer at Perry Wellness Center. (Source: WALB)
"I was dealing with a little bipolar and depression, and I was dealing with a drug problem," said Kenneth Christmas, another Perry Wellness Center peer. (Source: WALB)
"I was dealing with a little bipolar and depression, and I was dealing with a drug problem," said Kenneth Christmas, another Perry Wellness Center peer. (Source: WALB)
Peers from Perry Wellness Center are creating an extension of the church, complete with walking paths, a community garden, and soon, a reflection pool. (Source: WALB)
Peers from Perry Wellness Center are creating an extension of the church, complete with walking paths, a community garden, and soon, a reflection pool. (Source: WALB)

AMERICUS, GA (WALB) - A new partnership between an Americus church and a healthcare facility will soon give people a new place to find some peace and quiet.

It is all in an effort to help people cope while living with mental illness and substance abuse problems.

"I had an addiction, and I needed something to keep me occupied," said Henry Stephens, a peer who has attended Perry Wellness Center for around four  months.

Kenneth Christmas also attends Perry Wellness Center in Americus. It's a day program for people suffering from mental illness, or struggling with substance abuse.

"I was dealing with a little bipolar and depression, and I was dealing with a drug problem," said Christmas.

Parishioners at Saint John's Anglican Church along with their priest saw the work the center does, and decided the church wanted to get involved.

"There's a need," said Jim Parker, the church's priest. "These people need an opportunity to move forth in life."

Now, Stephens and Christmas are just two Perry Wellness Center peers working on a project right next to the church.

They're helping create a sort of extension of the church, complete with walking paths, a community garden, and soon, a reflection pool.

"It keeps me busy and stuff," Christmas said. "I like working outside and planting and gardening."

People have donated a lot of materials, and the church is footing the bill.

But, these men are providing the labor.

"I stay busy working in the flower beds, creating boxes," Stephens explained.

Both Stephens and Christmas said it's a way to better themselves, and the church is happy to provide not only an opportunity for that, but an environment where they can share the faith that drives them.

"They're learning a skill that once they do advance, they can take this trade and the knowledge that they have," said Reggie Daniel, a St. John's parishioner who is also heading up the project.

The church originally thought the project would take two or three years, but Daniel said the process is speeding along.

The church is also working to get the property designated as a bird sanctuary.

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