September 25, 2019

Renovations are Underway At Trinity Counseling’s New Home

NEW LOCATION, NEW ERA: Trinity Counseling Service’s 50th year is being marked by a move into spacious, new headquarters at 353 Nassau Street, formerly known as the McCarthy Building. HMR Architects is in charge of renovations.

By Anne Levin

After five decades renting 22 Stockton Street to Trinity Counseling Service (TCS), Trinity Church needed more space. The church gave the nonprofit community counseling service three years to find a new home. But it didn’t take long for TCS to find a new headquarters on the other side of town, allowing them to stay in Princeton in a space that could be customized to their needs.

“We’ve been paying reduced rent to the church for a long time, and it was just, basically, time for us to look for another space,” said Whitney Ross, TCS executive director. “We got very lucky, because we found this building at 353 Nassau Street very quickly. We knew we needed to be in town, given the population we serve. A lot of people walk to us, or take the bus.”

TCS has a lease-purchase agreement for the former McCarthy Building, which was home to the McCarthy Law Firm for decades. The purchase price is $3.2 million, and renovations are costing another $1.2 million. TCS has until December 2020 to complete the purchase. They will be renting until that time.

The organization gets no state or federal funding, which means they must raise about $500,000 a year to provide child, family, and adult mental health services, programs, and projects. “It’s not easy, but we have a strong group of trustees and stakeholders,” said Ross. “We have been providing general counseling and psychological support for all demographics in the community regardless of financial resources — anxiety, depression, transition issues, issues of grief and loss, divorce, things most of us struggle with at some point — and we want to make sure everyone in the community has a place to turn if they need some kind of support.”

Construction on the new building is due to be completed at the end of October, and TCS hopes to move in by the third week in November. HMR Architects of West Windsor was hired to maximize the space and make it fully accessible, which the former headquarters is not.

“This is important because we are seeing more seniors now, as this is one of the fastest growing demographics in the country,” said Ross. “Treating that population is one of our signature programs.”

Two floors of the building have been completely gutted. “We can really outfit the building the way we want it,” said Ross. “Special attention is being paid to color and light and materials and space, to make it conducive to therapy. There is a lot of research on how important all of that is.”

TCS’ trained, licensed clinicians treat the greater Princeton community, with clients from Lawrenceville, Hopewell, New Hope and Newtown, Pa., and other areas, Ross said. Insurance is accepted, but fundraising is needed to meet the gap between what a client can pay, on a sliding scale, and the cost of services.

Ross said most of the clinicians at TCS also have private practices outside the organization. “It’s a special and unique place, because we only hire people we would send our family members to,” she said. “I don’t know of another agency like ours, run by two doctoral level clinicians with our level of training.”

A greater focus is needed, in general, on mental health, Ross believes. “We have to start talking about it more openly. We need places like Trinity for people to be able to go if they can’t afford a private practice,” she said. “And there are a lot of great ones, but many don’t take insurance. Our quality of care is just as good, and people can use their insurance on a sliding scale if necessary.”

Though TCS has been a fixture in Princeton for 50 years, many people are not familiar with its services. “We’re hoping, with this new space, that we will be at the center of mental health and wellness,” said Ross. “It’s a new era.”