Dellys Sice in the newly renovated Henry Nouwen House

There’s a bright new look and feel to Henri Nouwen House these days now that the renovation work is virtually finished.

 Only a minor tweak is needed here and there to finish a project that started at the end of last year.

The builder did a great job meeting the committee’s various needs, according to Henri Nouwen House’s operations manager, Dellys Sice, and she’s very grateful for the funding from Lotterywest.

“It’s absolutely wonderful,” she said.

The work has transformed what’s was once a pretty “scungy” old building into an impressive space for the organisation’s counselling services.

Henri Nouwen House has been providing counselling services to the people of Bridgetown and beyond for years, giving emotional support and building people’s resilience in a safe and supportive environment.

Group sessions

People work through their problems with group sessions and one-on-one counselling.

Those group sessions were put on hold during the lock-own phase of the pandemic, but the service managed to meet people’s needs through regular individual counselling.

That proved very reassuring for the organisation’s clients.

“I think because they knew we would respond they had that back-up if needed. It makes people feel more comfortable to know that they’re not totally alone out there,” Ms Sice said.

It’s remarkable that such a professional counselling service is staffed entirely by volunteers and runs on a modest budget with financial support from the Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes and public donations.

Some of its seven hands-on counsellors have Masters degrees in counselling. Among them are retired teachers and lawyers.

The small organisation is backed by 40-50 volunteers who help with fundraising and other activities.

“The community is just so supportive of us,” she said.

That support is vital and enables it to operate on its modest means.

At the core of Henri Nouwen’s work is its 14-week program consisting of guided relaxation and presentations.

The aim is to help people find their own solutions to their life’s problems.

There are 20-25 people on its books at any time, but counselling takes place in small groups.

Henri Nouwen House has also run men’s groups and women’s groups as well as a 10-week course on Fridays at Manjimup High School which proved popular with the kids.

“None of the kids missed Friday mornings, so that for us was a real pat on the back,” she said.