The Woolwich Counselling Centre (WICC) held its grand opening last weekend in the newly-named Joyce Gladwell Building. Gladwell was surprised and delighted by the announcement, which her family managed to keep a secret from her.
“I have secured a place in Canada, in Elmira, which I never imagined, and I’m dumbstruck,” she said.
The announcement was made by Joyce’s husband Graham, who offered some reminiscences of the early years of the centre.
The Gladwells arrived from England in 1969 to an Elmira that was very different from today.
“There was no Tim Hortons and no McDonald’s and the industrial lands to the east were Earl Martin’s farm,” Graham said. “There were no community services, no organized daycare, no recycling and particularly no counselling centre.”
When Malcolm, their youngest son, started school that fall, Joyce had time to meet with other community-minded women and hatch plans to bring those services to Elmira.
In 1980, with all the boys out of the house, she enrolled in a marriage and family therapy course at the University of Guelph. Joyce completed part of her requisite 1,500 hours of supervised counselling in Elmira then went to work at the counselling centre, first as a volunteer then as a paid staff person.
“I’m absolutely amazed when I hear the list of counsellors [now], remembering the years we struggled with one or two,” she said.
From one part-time counsellor with a budget of $100, WICC has grown to nine counselors seeing 1,000 clients, and a budget of $250,000.
“Having been married to Joyce for 51 years, I can categorically state, tongue in cheek, that Joyce can be interested in some enterprise only if it doesn’t make money,” Graham said. “Her part was to have the dream and nurture the fledgling enterprise. Today her dream has come true.”
After making a home at St. James Lutheran Church for 30 years, it was evident the counselling centre had outgrown its space and a new building was needed.
Fred and Shirley Redekop were asked to lead the fundraising drive to purchase the former St. Aidan’s Church on Memorial Avenue. The fundraising campaign was only half way to its goal of $700,000 when staff moved into the new building last November.
On Saturday, the Redekops announced that the drive had met and surpassed their goal, raising $840,000. The extra funds will go into an operating reserve fund for the centre.
Executive director Gerlinde Petz told the crowd that Joyce and her group met at St. Aidan’s 40 years ago, when the counselling centre was just an ambitious idea.
“Here we are now in the building where this agency was dreamed into being,” Petz said. “The purchase of St. Aidans brought us full circle, and we didn’t even know it.”