Home' The Wellingtonian : June 9th 2011 Contents 4 THE WELLINGTONIAN, JUNE 9, 2011
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A decade of selfless work
Special occasion: Treena van Rijssel, left, was presented with an international award by
Inner Wheel national president Colleen Payne.
Photo: EMMA BEER
By EMMA BEER
What was a supposed to be a two-minute
speech turned into a night to remember
for Newlands resident Treena van Rijssel
Mrs van Rijssel was speechless after
receiving an international award recog-
nising her outstanding work within the
She received the Margarette Golding
Award, which recognises commendable
personal service in the community.
The Wellington sector of Inner Wheel
nominated Mrs van Rijssel for her work
with young pregnant mothers.
Mrs van Rijssel was told she was
coming to the club's monthly meeting to
give a small speech about the work she
She was gobsmacked'' when she was
announced as the recipient of the award.
When I get recognition I sort of think,
Well it's not me doing it'. I find it a real
privilege to be a part of the girls' lives . . .
I'm quite blown away.
I'm truly thankful for this [award] and
it's going on the wall.''
Mrs van Rijssel and her husband, Mar-
cus, founded the House of Grace in
Newlands about 10 years ago.
The house provides support and edu-
cation for pregnant teenage girls before
and after the birth of their babies.
Sixty-four girls have been through the
Judith Dunlop, secretary of Wellington
Inner Wheel, said members were in awe
of the work done by Mr and Mrs van
Rijssel and the sacrifices they had made.
Inner Wheel, for women with a con-
nection to Rotary, was started in 1924 by
Margarette Golding. It aims to promote
friendship, foster international under-
standing and encourage ideals of per-
The club started making donations to
the House of Grace about three years ago,
after reading about it in The
We truly believe that you have saved
many lives and souls,'' Mrs Dunlop said
in a letter to Mrs van Rijssel explaining
To nominate a candidate, the club had
to write a 25-word citation, with suppor-
The citation read: In recognition of
ensuring a future for babies of pregnant
teenagers. Emotional, educational, social
and parenting skills are nurtured in a
safe haven before and following the
The international award was not given
out lightly, Mrs Dunlop said.
Only seven others in New Zealand had
received the award and about 200 in the
House of Grace housemother Natalie
Joyce said it had been difficult to keep
the award secret from her friend and col-
league: We tell each other everything.''
She said Mrs van Rijssel still did not
seem to understand what an amazing job
She's very, very humble. She doesn't
realise that without her none of this
would have happened.''
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