HeroWork and the Citizens Counselling Centre: Maintaining the State of the Heart

[“Story and photos by Anne Maclean.”]

Brenda Wilson, Executive Director of the Citizens Counselling Centre (CCC), looks around the centre’s main office. “This is action central,” she says.

Wilson is looking forward to HeroWork’s renovation of the centre’s office and counselling spaces. The renovation, worth approximately $150,000, includes new paint, new flooring, a complete overhaul of all four washrooms and a kitchen in the counsellors’ lounge.

After hearing about HeroWork from one of their board members, the CCC invited HeroWork founder and Executive Director Paul Latour to speak at their AGM in June of 2014. Later they invited him to visit the centre. The CCC then applied for and got a HeroWork renovation.

The CCC’s vision is to “build capacity through state of the heart counselling.” Founded in 1969, the CCC trains volunteers to provide short-term, low-cost individual and group counselling for adults. Individual counselling usually runs for 10 sessions; group sessions run for up to eight weeks. The CCC currently has about 100 active volunteers and 10 practicum students from local clinical counselling Master’s programs.

The CCC started out in the basement of the United Church (where the Victoria Conservatory of Music is now) and later moved to Caledonia Street (across from the present location of the Victoria Police department). In 1990 they moved to their current location at 941 Kings Road, renovated the space and welcomed the Victoria branch of the B.C. Schizophrenia Society (BCSS) as their tenant. BCSS Victoria occupies part of the space on the ground floor and won’t be directly affected by the new renovation.

Counsellor Libbi Smith and computer volunteer Dennis Derfler take a break in the CCC's main office.

Bookkeeper Libbi Smith and IT volunteer, staff person and counsellor Dennis Derfler take a break in the CCC’s main office.

As Wilson points out, building codes have changed in the past 25 years, and HeroWork’s renovation will bring the building up to current standards. She also hopes it will help reduce office clutter and provide better storage. Their office space looked pretty clutter-free to me, but as Wilson says, one can never have too much storage.

Just as important for Wilson is maintaining a friendly, welcoming space for CCC’s clients. She asked HeroWork’s designers to stay away from “cold blues and grays” on the walls and anything too “slick or design-y” in the furniture and instead choose warm, soft colours to help encourage clients to relax and feel at home.

The counsellors have their own lounge where they can relax between appointments. With the new kitchen, Wilson says, counsellors won’t have to leave the lounge to use the current “kitchen,” a small alcove down the hall. When I asked Wilson what they would do with this alcove after the renovation, she said (not surprisingly): probably storage.

Which brings us back to the main office. There’s a small library with books on psychology and related topics for the counsellors to read or lend to their clients, a couple of desktop computers, some filing cabinets and a large window letting in lots of light. It looks like a pleasant place to work. And work they do. Dennis Derfler, staff person, IT volunteer and volunteer counsellor, was at the computer, and bookkeeper Libbi Smith dropped in for a while. Derfler, Smith and Wilson all graciously agreed to have their pictures taken, and I appreciate their cooperation.

Computer volunteer Dennis Derfler hard at work.

Dennis Derfler, staff person, IT volunteer and volunteer counsellor.

Wilson is grateful for HeroWork’s help. “Their contribution is essential,” she says. “We couldn’t do this without them.”

Spread the love. Make a comment.