Pembina Counselling Centre is growing its outreach and has opened a third location in the region.

The not-for-profit organization officially swung open the doors to its Altona office on Friday, expanding on its Winkler and Morden locations.

"We were hoping to get this done in 2020 but COVID-19 just prevented us from opening the office sooner," explained executive director, Chris Derksen.

He added the move made really good sense as their Winkler and Morden offices see quite a few clients from Altona and surrounding area, even as far as Morris. As well, Derksen described their current workload as incredibly busy with many people seeking help to deal with COVID-19 related anxiety and depression. "...we just wanted to better serve the community, so this was just a logical next step in the growth of our ministry."

Located in Unit 100 of the Golden West Plaza in Altona, Derksen feels the centrally located space also provides anonymity for those looking for discretion as they go for counselling.

The office will be open one day a week, on Fridays, by appointment only by calling 204-822-6622 and be staffed by counsellor, Brent Thiessen, who was hired in March 2019 in preparation for the move. As well, Derksen noted they will be able to accommodate those who might feel more comfortable with a female counsellor.

"We all struggle with various things and sometimes the hardest thing can be to reach out for help, but we just want to encourage people not to suffer alone, don't suffer in silence, we are here for you," said Derksen. This includes those who may face financial barriers to accessing the supports they need and Derksen says Pembina Counselling Centre's ministry model can help provide options that better suit those situations.

Derksen thanks all those who have supported the Centre financially and with their time in order to get this third office open, particularly Sun Valley Co-op which he says helped with renovations to the new space, including soundproofing.