Family, caring, friendly, supportive - they're just some of the words used to describe Community House Whanganui which marked its 30th anniversary this week.
The Ridgway St building is a base for organisations that need an accessible, affordable, safe and centrally located space where they can work with clients and manage administration.
They are supported by the Community House Whanganui office services provided by manager Shelley Loader and administrator Anne Englebretsen.
Current board chairwoman Sandra Rickey said Community House's mission statement was "supporting our community together".
"The beauty is we have 14 organisations in the House, covering different aspects in aiding the community," Rickey said.
"It definitely is a family in all aspects. As with all families, we do disagree – but we agree to disagree. The sense of family is very apparent when you come into the House and we make sure everyone in the House is fine.
"Being part of that is a wonderful thing because all of us in individual ways are trying to do our best in making the community a better place. There's a wonderful feeling of strength in numbers in the House."
Previous manager Jan Dunphy, who worked for Community House for 25 years, said it was "a lovely, caring, friendly place to work".
"For me it was about people working with their hearts rather than their pockets and supporting those in the community who needed support," Dunphy said.
"We had an incubator role. We did it ourselves to start with but we were contracted by the council as well in the end to provide help to new organisations that were setting up. With the funding we received, we were able to give them cheaper rent and just walk alongside them to help them get going. Some of those organisations grew and are still operating in the community but in different spaces.
"People always used to ask me when I was out and about, out of Whanganui, how did we do it so well because they'd hear about Community House. I think that it was about the people of Whanganui rather than Community House, in that everybody knew everybody and there was a lot of personal contact between agencies."
About 20 years ago the organisations were asked to go through their statistics and provide details of their contact rates with clients, families and others, Dunphy said.
"It came to 22,500 people which at that time was over half of Whanganui's population. That was quite incredible and gave us good standing with some of our funders.
"At its peak I think we had 24 organisations in the building. Some were very small, some no longer exist and some are quite big now.
"I'm very proud of what Community House has become, where it has come from and how it's got there."
Current manager Shelley Loader said she believed the reason Community House had been successful in lasting 30 years was it was valued by the community, not just member organisations.
"It's the first port of call for some people and if we can't provide the service they need we will put them on the right track to someone who can," Loader said.
"The organisations that are here value being here for the support they receive from similar people doing similar work, sharing costs and resources, and the ability to provide a wraparound service for people who may have more than one need.
"It's a family atmosphere and everybody looks out for everybody. It's a really supportive environment."
Loader said mental health and housing were the biggest issues they were dealing with and Covid-19 had had a huge impact on the operations of Community House.
"We got a lot more inquiries from organisations for help with funding and from people wanting assistance over that time.
"The demand for casual hire spaces has increased a lot. Traditionally we aimed to fill our rooms with permanent tenants but we've created a more casual hire space.
"There's much more demand for technology so we now have a conferencing system. We get lots of inquiries from organisations within and outside of Community House wanting to get more up with the play with technology. A lot of my work is helping people set up Facebook pages and website and with technology like Zoom."
Community House celebrated its 30 years with a function for past and present organisations and supporters on Friday.
Community House opened on July 1, 1991, after the Community Health Watch Group proposed setting up a building as a base for community organisations to provide health support outside of hospital services.
Much of the work previously done through the hospital was now being done by not-for-profit organisations and many organisations were starting out with volunteers and fieldworkers working from home.
A shared space would enable organisations to be more professional, share resources and knowledge and give clients anonymity with a range of services provided within the building.
After a supportive public meeting, the Wanganui City Council adopted the project and bought Wakefield Chambers on the corner of Ridgway St and Victoria Ave through the Harbour Endowment. The council leased the building to the Community House (Whanganui) Association Incorporated, with no rent to be paid for the first year to allow organisations time to set up their offices. It started out with 11 organisations and has housed 46 member organisations over the years.
In November 2012 Community House moved to 60 Ridgway St after the original premises were deemed an earthquake risk.
Currently Community House is the base for Access Community Health, Balance Aotearoa, Brain Injury Whanganui, Diabetes New Zealand Wanganui Branch, Multiple Sclerosis Wanganui, Nationwide Health and Disability Advocacy Service, Paul Jacobson Counselling, People First New Zealand, Prisoners Aid & Rehabilitation Service Trust, Te Whāriki Manāki o Tātou Trust, Tess Charles Osteopathy, Volunteer Whanganui, Whanganui Community Foundation and Whanganui Community Living Trust.
Community House Whanganui has two paid staff - full-time manager Shelley Loader and part-time administrator Anne Englebretsen.