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Our Advocate-in-Chief Remembered

Longtime friends of Healthy Peninsula remember fondly our founder and advocate-in-chief Barbara Peppey. Barbara died in a tragic car accident near the winter home in New Mexico she shared with her husband Gerry. We received this e-mail from Gerry reporting on a fitting memorial for Barbara, who loved plants almost as much as she loved people.

The Western New Mexico University Friends of Clay and the Institute for Rural Social Work Research are collaborating on the Barbara Peppey Memorial Plants People and Pots Project to bring potted plants to area assisted living facility residents in memory of former School of Social Work faculty member Barbara Peppey.

To kick off the project and remember its namesake, the groups will hold a brief ceremony on campus Thursday, April 19, at 3 p.m. They will unveil an Arizona Sycamore and a memorial plaque in honor of Peppey then enjoy light refreshments. The ceremony will take place on the eastern side of the parking lot adjacent to the university’s ceramics studio near the Mustang tennis courts.

Before her tragic death in 2016, Barbara Peppey was an avid potter at the university’s ceramics program amd a Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Rural Social Work Research, an independent not-for-profit corporation informally affiliated with Western New Mexico University. As a professional social worker, Peppey had worked extensively with senior citizens in Maine.

The Barbara Peppey Memorial Plants People and Pots Project will enable interested seniors at Sunset Vista Assisted Living, the Silver City Senior Center, the Santa Clara Assisted Living and Santa Clara Senior Center to pick a handmade pot and a plant for which they will provide care. “Research has suggested that many positive benefits result from seniors engaging in plant care,” Peppey’s widower, Gerry Bryan, said.

Brittany Jauriqui-Andrade and Amaris Fay, who are social work students and researchers in the Institute for Rural Social Work Research, will administer a mood-measuring survey instrument to seniors before they choose their plants. One month later, the survey will be conducted again to measure any changes in mood that might be attributed to seniors’ involvement in caring for the plants.

“Hopefully participants in Silver City and Santa Clara will be uplifted through this project,” said Professor of Social Work and Institute for Rural Social Work Research Founder Dr. Bob Rickle.

The project collaborators consulted with Chala Werber, who runs the university greenhouse, regarding the best types of plants to use, considering hardiness, visual appeal, fast growth and non-toxicity.

Call 575-956-8698 for more information about the Barbara Peppey Memorial Plants People and Pots Project


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