ALMOST 20 years after it opened, the O'Brien Centre is still known as a place which does not discriminate.
April 4 will mark two decades since the former transport shed was converted, now including a general gathering shed with a popular pool table, spaces for making art and music, and a vegetable garden.
It opens every Thursday, providing people with a mental illness friendship, plus respite for their carers.
Jim O’Brien started the centre after he approached Orange Health Service to use the old facilities as a place to come together.
It is now managed by the Mid-Western Consumer Advisory Group and run by volunteers.
Peter Moore has been involved with the centre intermittently for more than a decade and remembered when it reached its 10-year milestone.
He said he enjoyed the weekly motorcycle ride from his home in Bathurst.
"I can get down and I just like to see people and have a good time," he said.
"I like playing eight-ball because I don't have a table at home."
I can get down and I just like to see people and have a good time.Peter Moore
Jeff Nalder, who helps Jenny Coleman run the centre, said volunteers also encouraged clients to open up.
"We have a discussion group most weeks where they can bring up whatever's worrying them," he said.
With 40-60 people at the centre each week, he said the vegetable garden had proven popular, with clients able to take produce home.
"We hope to get it big enough to sell [what we grow]," he said.
He joined after his son died 18 months ago.
"When I started, it was a way of helping him even though he wasn't here," he said.
Member for Orange Phil Donato visited the centre on Thursday to present a fresh NSW flag to replace its old, worn-out one.
Mr Donato said the centre provided an important service and wanted to ensure the flag arrived in time for the milestone.
The April 4 celebrations will include a tour of the centre, talks from guest speakers and lunch, with an open invitation issued to the community.
To volunteer or donate call 6369 8981.
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