Since Helping Hand Counselling Centre opened its doors to the public in May 2021 in the seaside city of Pula, Croatia, a dedicated team of professionals has been providing support to the community, addressing health, psychosocial, and emotional needs — all at no cost to the individual, thanks to generous funding from the Adventist Church’s Trans-European Division (TED), Adriatic Union, Croatian Conference, and the local church in Pula.
What makes Helping Hand unique, according to leaders behind the initiative, is that the center hosts engaging group workshops for those wishing to explore spiritual topics alongside personalized therapeutic support and online therapy sessions.
“People in the community feel incredibly grateful and blessed” because of the center, Mišo Havran, health ministries director for the Croatian Conference, said. Highlighting the unique approach of Helping Hand, seamlessly blending psychosocial and spiritual support, he commented, “Our support groups explore different topics, such as emotional growth, relationships, and spirituality. We start our meetings with a moment of prayer, ensuring everything we share is grounded in spiritual values.”
The center’s affiliation with the Seventh-day Adventist Church is transparent and warmly embraced by participants. “All involved in creating and running Helping Hand are grateful to God for His tangible leadership so far and for the opportunities to not only assist with physical and psychological health but also to introduce people to Christ,” Havran said.
The work of professionals and volunteers at Helping Hand recently caught the attention of Croatia’s leading TV station, HRTV1. “Ivana Simic, journalist and producer of the well-established program ‘Together in Spirit’ [‘Zajedno u Duhu’] and her team interviewed us about the work done since our opening,” Havran said. The interview, featuring Zlatko Pavlovic, Lidija Godina, and Havran, aired on November 11.
Commenting on how Helping Hand has supported the Pula community, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic, Simic said, “We often hear in the media that people are depressed, under stress, and looking for help. This is why the Health Department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Pula opened Helping Hand’s doors, with the help of excellent professionals.”
The Croatian Conference plans to replicate this success by opening a similar center in Zagreb. “We already have professionals who are willing to be part of this new center in Zagreb,” Havran shared, underlining the vision for a broader impact on the community. “We dream of connecting the centers to share resources and reach more people.”