Monday, March 21, 2011

Community Partnerships

I've worked downtown at the Central Library for almost two years and I am learning more and more about what it means to be homeless. Although I know every library has it's share of homeless patrons and issues with homelessness, I don't remember at my last branch being confronted with as many homeless families. They have unique needs and unfortunately in San Diego we do not have a permanent homeless shelter. We do have transitional living facilities, and I see the agencies that run these places as perfect community partners. We have similar goals, notably exemplary  customer service and helping people who come to us get what they need (information, an listening ear, directions, internet, food, a warm bed, et al), and we are facing similar economic strains. If we pool our resources, the community will be better served, and the way our organizations are viewed and relied upon might change as well.

Every Friday I do storytimes at the preschool in St. Vincent de Paul Village. The challenges these children present me with each week are complex and yet, I feel like I am a better Librarian because I serve them. I know that a few storytimes are not going to make the education gap dissapear immediately, and that dancing and singing with Ms. Kirby is not going to take away the stress and trauma of living on the streets or in a car, but I believe it's a start. These kids keep me on my toes, and I am a constantly asking colleagues for advice, tips/tricks, and their favorite activities/stories/flannel to help keep my "friends" engaged and excited about reading (if you have any send them my way). I have established a partnership with St. Vincent's and the teachers at the preschool, and it benefits all involved.

Through my Cuddle Up & Read grant project with teen moms, I learned about The Salvation Army's Door of Hope program for homeless mothers with children. A new facet of this program has been introduced by San Diego Charger Ryan Mathews and his mom. Read more here: Trish & Ryan Mathews Door of Hope Chest. Check out the video (seriously, this guy looks so much like my brother it's CRAZY) and contact a future community partner today!