Officials rededicate Sherlach Counseling Center, unveil renovation

On a calm, sunny morning 37 people met to watch the re-dedication of a building to honor a woman who built her life around helping others. In the end, she gave her life for them.

The Mary J. Sherlach Counseling Center was rededicated to honor Mary J. Sherlach, the school psychologist at the Sandy Hook Elementary School who died trying to save the children at the school on Dec. 14, 2012.

State Sen. Marilyn Moore (D-22) presented First Selectman Tim Herbst with a citation from the entire delegation to hang in the new counseling center. Legislators including state Rep. Dave Rutigliano, Rep. Ben McGorty, Rep. Laura Devlin, and Rep. Mitch Bolinsky were also present.

Sherlach’s husband, William Sherlach, attended the event and thanked town officials, state representatives and the staff at the center who all worked to renovate the building, along with those who help residents needing mental health services.

“Mary would be truly honored and truly humbled at what we have here,” Sherlach said.

Sherlach said that he and his family are healing and working toward growing stronger after his wife’s tragedy.

“We are trying to do positive things such as establishing the Mary Fund,” Sherlach said. “It is meant to put money into action to provide mental health for teens who do not have access to help. We can be a positive force in life.”

The Trumbull Town Council had voted on Feb. 4, 2013, to rename the Trumbull Counseling Center in honor of Sherlach. The center was first dedicated on May 15, 2013. The second dedication was because the building was renovated.

The counseling center provides family counseling for Trumbull residents and their families. It is staffed by Robin Bieber MS and Victor Olsen MA, who are licensed marriage and family therapists. Olsen said the center serves around 200 families, encompassing around 600 individuals. He commented on the improvements.

“I think it’s a more professional environment and more comfortable,”Olsen said. “It demonstrates the town’s dedication to the service. It shows what the state grant invested for the community.”

Olsen said the building now has two additional offices for counseling services. The entrance was also changed toward the back near the driveway.

First Selectman Tim Herbst read a proclamation dedicating May the month of mental health. He presented the proclamation to Coleen Figliuzzi, director of nursing for the town of Trumbull.

Herbst commented on the re-dedication of the building to honor Sherlach.

“We are very excited to reopen and rededicate the counseling center in light of mental health and mental wellness,” Herbst said. “I can think of no better tribute to her legacy than this center. I am grateful to the legislature.”

Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra said she was impressed with the building because it was a calm and nurturing environment. She wanted to congratulate the town of Trumbull for having the foresight and compassion to name the center after Sherlach.

Llodra said she knew Sherlach in her role as a professional in Newtown, and believed Sherlach would have been honored.
Other town officials were on hand to discuss the center’s renovations. Allen White, facilities director for the town of Trumbull, said the building was gutted and the renovations cost around $224,000 and were covered by a state grant.

Margaret Watt, executive director of the Southwest Regional Mental Health Board Inc., noted that the building was reopening during Mental Health Month and that it would benefit people who needed help with mental health issues.

“We have the opportunity to do the work to identify people who need help,” Watts said.

The grant was obtained by Rutigliano, along with others. Rutigliano said the grant was started after an audit by the Board of Finance. He said when they were looking at how to fix the center, they used it as the guide to see how it needed to be upgraded.
Rutigliano thanked the “front line workers” at the counseling center.

“I want Vic and Robin to know their effort isn’t unnoticed by a great many people,” Rutigliano said.