Providing hope for the homeless in the back alcove of Rundel Library

Providing hope for the homeless in the back alcove of Rundel Library

Andy Carey at the Library Resource Outreach Center, Rundel Library

Today we read that only 22% of Monroe County residents were very or somewhat familiar with the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative

So no better time to further spread the word about the Library Resource Outreach Center (LROC), in existence for about a year and a half. A unique collaboration of organizations and educational institutions located on the first floor on the Rundel Library, the Center offers hope and advocacy for those facing homelessness or imminent homelessness.

The formation of the Center began with David Creek,  now retired Assistant Director of the Rochester Downtown Library. As library patrons sadly know, libraries are often used by homeless people as de facto day shelters, especially in the winter.IMG_1614

David wanted the library to be more than a temporary escape from the cold. As explained by Center volunteer Andy Carey, MSW and Co-Founder of MC Collaborative, David’s vision was to bring social workers and social work interns directly into the library.

After building relationships with community organizations and discussions with his friend Dr. Larry Guttmacher, David forged LROC as a unique collaboration with: Nick Coulter of the Monroe County Office of Mental Health RED Team (now co-founder of Person Centered Housing Options), Dr. Ryan Bell from the State Office of Mental Health outpatient clinic, Professor Ann Marie White of the University of Rochester Public Health and Psychology Department, as well as Andy and Christine McKinley of MC Collaborative.

And the local social work community has answered the call admirably.

Center volunteers include interns from the Masters in Social Work Programs of the Greater Rochester Collaborative (Nazareth and SUNY Brockport provide whole classes to assist with LROC projects), Roberts Weslyan, UR’s Public Health Department and Brockport’s  B.A. in Social Work Program.  Veteran social workers like Andy are there to provide both direct service and mentoring.

And it’s working. As Andy says:

Great community organizations have been willing to accept LROC referrals, many times on the day of the referral. I will name a few, but there are many more because the community has been very supportive of LROC: Law NY, Catholic Family Center, Baden Street Settlement, Charles Settlement, Community Place of Greater Rochester, Pre-Trial Diversion-2nd Chances Clothing, Asbury Storehouse, St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality, House of Mercy, Open Door Mission, Salvation Army, Matthew’s Closet, Monroe County Department of Human Services, etc. Open 6-10 hours a week, LROC has served hundreds of people in the last year and a half.

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This client says LROC has been a lifesaver. He was also quick to say he only wears the Cowboys jacket to stay warm. He’s for the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning all the way.

And it’s working because the library has been a truly effective venue for helping individuals who have traditionally been difficult to serve.

Andy compares the work of the Center to that of the librarians down the hall. Like librarians, the LROC staff helps people find what they want and give tips along the way: “If a person wants boots, we will find boots. If a person wants housing, we will find housing.”  That is the spirit of the LROC service.

Special thanks to Andy for telling the story of the Center. He even apologized for taking a few days longer than he wanted, saying, “we did a 24 hour count this week of all unsheltered homeless individuals in the county on top of the usual work. I’m not as young as I used to be and missing a night’s sleep is rough.”  No apologies needed.

The days I was in the back alcove of Rundel Library I met many people appreciative of the the LROC spirit.  Hoping soon the library will be a place where they just go to take out books.

More on LROC from the RPL blog:  Library outreach to those in need

MORE ON ROCHESTER’S HOMELESS

People who Person Centered Housing Options has helped

Love and Hope in the Rochester Subway

ON AN ARTIST PROVIDING HOPE

Local artists’ enduring message of hope for troubled youth at Pre-Trial Services


ON THE ROCHESTER PUBLIC LIBRARY

Not letting the Vietnam War be forgotten at the Vietnam Learning Center with Central librarian Steve Nash

Kitty Jospé provides noon nourishment for the mind at Rundel.

About The Author

dkramer3@naz.edu

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, and the CITY.  My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.

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