First Things First honors ‘Champion for Young Children’

Front row, from left, are Chair Rev. Abigail Conley; 2019 Champion for Young Children Jeanie Pefferly; Councilmember Irene Frklich; and Councilmember Shiloh Murillo. Back row, from left, are Councilmember Cassandra Morwood; Councilmember David Crummey; Councilmember Stephanie Montez; and Councilmember Mark Young. (Submitted photo)

First Things First recently recognized Jeanie Pefferly as a 2019 First Things First Champion for Young Children.  

The award is given to local champions who actively volunteer their time to raise public awareness of the importance of early childhood development and health. Champions spend a significant amount of time volunteering with First Things First and building public awareness about the importance of early childhood issues, according to a release.  

Ms. Pefferly, who lives in Mesa, has volunteered with First Things First to raise awareness of the importance of early childhood education in the community.  She was recognized at the May First Things First Southeast Maricopa Regional Council meeting.   

“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,” Ms. Pefferly said in the release.

“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,” she said.

Ms. Pefferly is a bilingual pediatric care coordinator for Healing Hearts Pediatrics, which has offices in Gilbert, Queen Creek and Chandler. She has more than 16 years experience working in child development, parent support, home visiting, advocacy and all types of community resources and networking for children and families, including special needs. 

Ms. Pefferly invited First Things First to facilitate a training with pediatric providers who interact with families daily so that the medical team could learn how to use their voice to raise awareness on the importance of early childhood. The providers now consistently share First Things First materials paired with early childhood messages with parents/caregivers, the release states. 

She 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.

Ms. Pefferly 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, according to the release. 

She 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. 

As result of Ms. Pefferly’s partnership with First Things First over the last year, more than 1,200 parents are more supported with early childhood learning and development resources for their youngest child’s health and later success in school. 

For more information about Jeanie Pefferly and the local regional council partnership, go to and click on Southeast Maricopa Region. 

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. Go to 

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