Calera counseling center offers hope, encouragement

CALERA – Despite just opening in December 2016, Victory Counseling Services Inc. is bustling with people looking to take advantage of the services offered.

During the first few minutes of an interview with owner and executive director Dr. Hattie Holman, three new people walked through the door in search of help – two wanting to join the New Life group and one wanting to join the 50-plus group.

“As you can see, it’s going well, and I’m just so excited,” Holman said.

Holman said she hasn’t had to do much advertising because residents are finding out about the center through word of mouth.

“It’s all about building a relationship with people,” she said. “They just need to know that someone cares. That’s the most important thing. They know that I care so they tell their friends and family members about the services offered here.”

The nonprofit offers an array of free services for ages 13 and up. Holman receive help running the center from volunteers. Right now Holman has four dedicated volunteers, but she is in search of more.

Holman, who first obtained a counseling license through the state, said she decided to open her own counseling center because she felt restricted by her state license because she could not talk about God.

“How can I help them if we don’t talk about the helper?” she said.

But at Victory Counseling Services, Holman, who is also a minister, said God is not pushed on anyone. Most of the time she said a member of one of the life groups brings up God on their own. She said it’s common for people to seek a closer relationship with God when trying to turn their lives around or when they’re in search of answers.

The center offers three life groups – Teen Chat, New Life and 50-plus – and a fourth group, Kid Talk, for ages 8-12 is in the works.

Teen Chat, for 13-19 year olds, happens in a group setting and focuses on letting teens talk about the issues that they struggle with or have questions about the most, like bullying, peer pressure, sex and drugs.

“Any issue that’s bothering them I want them to feel free to talk to me about it,” Holman said. “Our conversations are confidential. I tell their parents right away that I’m not going to tell them what their child says, unless the child is a treat to themselves or someone else or if there is an issue with any kind of abuse.”

New Life, for 20-49 year olds, is all about helping people improve their lives.

“People in this group have had bud turns in life,” Holman said. “They’ve been incarcerated, addicted to drugs or had their kids taken from them by DHR. I’m here to help renew their minds and instill self worth. I want them to know that they don’t have to stay stuck in the rut that they’re in.

“I quit school after the eighth grade and now I have two bachelors, a masters and two doctorates. I don’t tell them that to brag, I tell them to let them know that if God can do it for me then he can do it for you, too.”

The 50-plus group teaches the importance of having a will and a living will, power of attorney, life insurance and other important documents. The program also offers computer workshops, information about Medicare benefits, health monitoring and social activities.

Between the three groups, Holman counsels about 40 people. She also does individual, marriage and family counseling, and is already looking for opportunities to open more counseling centers. She recently met with the mayor of Jemison to talk about opening a center there.

The center operates on donations. To help raise money, Holman is planning a gospel concert for some time in April. She hopes to raise enough money to one day start hiring employees.

For more information about Victory Counseling Services, go to Victorycounselingservice.com or call 586-9797.