Jeannie Pefferly praised for early-childhood work

Jeannie Pefferly, second from left in front, holes the award received, surrounded by coworkers at First Thing First’s southeast office.

A Mesa woman has been cited by First Things First for her volunteering work in raising public awareness of the importance of early childhood development and health.

Jeanie Pefferly was named the 2019 Southeast Maricopa Regional Champion for Young Children for First Things First’s region that covers Mesa, Gilbert and Queen Creek.

Pefferly is a bilingual care coordinator at Healing Hearts Pediatrics, which has offices located in Gilbert, Queen Creek and Chandler.

First Things First is a voter-created, statewide organization that funds early education and health programs to help kids be successful once they enter kindergarten. Decisions about how those funds are spent are made by local councils staffed by community volunteers. 

 “Many organizations are working to support early child development and health, and we can all contribute our time, our talents and/or financially to be involved in young children’s lives,” Pefferly said, adding:

 “Whether it is volunteering at an oral health fair or a 5k fundraising run, reading to kids at the library, organizing a playgroup for foster care, or being a member of an advisory board of a community organization, we all have something to offer. Our efforts all matter and work synergistically to benefit children everywhere.”

Pefferly has more than 16 years’ experience working in child development, parent support, home visiting, advocacy and community resources and networking for children and families, including special needs.

Pefferly invited First Things First to facilitate training with pediatric providers who interact with families daily so that the medical team can learn how to raise awareness of the importance of early childhood. 

The providers now consistently share the organization’s materials, paired with early childhood messages, with parents and caregivers.

“Pefferly also works with local school districts and other community partners to bring resources and early childhood information to families of young children to help build nurturing and stable environments for children and prepare them for kindergarten,” First Things First spokeswoman Sheri Collins said.

“She continuously looks for new collaborations and has created an excellent network of community partners that provide resources and information that can strengthen the parenting skills of families of young children because she knows that learning begins at birth,” Collins added.

Pefferly also created resource areas within pediatric offices so that parents and caregivers have ready access to materials that provide early childhood information, tools and tips.

Her effort helped 1,200 parents get access to resources for their youngest child’s health and later success in school, according to Collins.

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