Richland Library Social Workers Helping Homeless People in Columbia, South Carolina
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Richland Library Social Workers Helping Homeless People in Columbia, South Carolina

– Hi everybody, I’m in
Columbia, South Carolina and this is my friend Reggie. We just met for the
first time in real life first met on our online support
group for homeless people and Reggie, pretty
demanding that we meet here at the library, and now I know why. They have an amazing
social work department. – Oh yeah, they are
amazing, I’ve never seen anything like it here that
compares to how helpful the social workers are here. And they have, they’re
on top of everything they will help you find
resources, aid, just support in general for the homeless community. – Reggie said that they
helped him more than homeless services here in the city. – Yep. – That’s amazing, so let’s
meet the social work department here at the library. (upbeat guitar music) Hi everybody, I am in
Columbia, South Carolina I’m at the main library,
and I’m with Lee Patterson who is the manager… – Library social work manager. – So I have a friend,
Reggie, who is part of our online support group, and
he wanted to meet here. And he immediately took
me up to your offices and on the way he was telling me, “I get more support here than
I do other homeless services.” And I walk into your offices. You have a dedicated space,
I mean the whole library is beautiful, and you’re
serving the homeless population and low income population. – And anyone. – And I have a bunch of questions. – (laughs) Okay. – So first tell me about
it, tell me what you do how it started. – Sure, so it started back in
2013, the Knight Foundation had a grant, and they wanted to figure out how can a library impact the community? So if something as massive
as the Affordable Care Act comes down, how does a
library, how are we involved in helping the community
understand the law and how do we help them, you
know, find out their answers? And so that’s kind of how it
started, we thought we were going to do a bunch of educational forms and talk about the law,
and the pages and all that kind of thing, and people were just like, “What does it mean to
me? Let me go through it “what do I need, what
is it going to cost me?” and that’s kind of how this
started, really providing individualized, one-on-one
services to people face to face, what do you
need, and then how can we help you achieve that? – So first, thank you Knight Foundation this is wonderful, I’m excited because I love seeing
community-based services that, you know, and it’s
not that homeless services are doing anything bad, they’re
taxed, there’s not enough resources, there’s too much need, but this came about because of the
Affordable Healthcare Act? – Yep, absolutely. – That’s cool! – Absolutely. – And so what percentage of
low income or homeless people and how, tell me about the
clients that you serve. – So we try to keep as little
demographics as possible so we’ve got an intake form,
as most social workers do but we just try to keep,
only ask the questions that we need answers to,
that’s kind of one of the methods of a low-barrier program
that we’re trying to have. So I don’t have a lot of
income information to tell you because a lot of times
that doesn’t come up. But I can tell you that most
of our clients probably have no or very little income,
they’re either receiving social security disability,
or they have none they could be doing day labor at, you know one of the day labor places up the street. A lot of them are not housed,
so they’re either in shelters they are doubled up, they
are living on the streets. We do have a good number
of them who are housed who are just, you know,
having just tough times making ends meet. Most of our clients tend to
be females, and they tend to be in their fifties,
but we are happy to serve anyone that walks through our doors. – So I gotta back up a little bit because you said the
magic words, low-barrier. – Right. – So your services are low-barrier. – We try. – Could you clarify that,
or explain that a little? – Sure, so we are in the
library, but we do not require a library card, we do
not require that you are a resident of Richland
County, so Luxton County I mean I’ve had phone calls from Georgia asking about Georgia’s Medicaid program. I don’t live in Georgia
but I can go online and try to help you decipher what it says. So if you can call, if you
can walk in, if you can email then we try to help you. – So basically you’re filling this gap helping people navigate the
madness of social services. – Right. – I personally, because I
work with homeless people mostly and connected
to the homeless sector I am always ranting, it’s
broke it’s broke it’s broke and recently, I became
caregiver of my mother and getting my mom into a nursing home and trying to get social services for her I was like, “It’s all broke, “it’s not just the homeless sector!” It’s maddening! – There’s a lot going on,
a lot of different parts and so we just try to help
the community understand parts of it, we try to
network with our community we work really closely with our United Way and other community agencies
so we can know people by name we can call them by name and
say, “Hey, I have a question “with how this works,” we’re
all trying to understand it together, it’s a constantly
moving parts, there’s something’s changing all
the time and so networking has been a really big part of
it and having someone to call and say, “Hey, yesterday this was this way “and today it’s this
way, what’s going on?” you know just helping our
clients get their needs met. – I’ve been traveling for 11
years, and I first started seeing this, I remember I
was at a library in Boulder and the security guard
kinda just started providing social services, cause he was just sick of kicking people out so he
started giving them referrals. And then, I know San Francisco
started hiring social workers it started to become a thing,
and then a few years back the Dallas library, and we both know Joe invited me, and I did a
vlog out, I’ll link below and I just think it’s a wonderful thing. How many libraries are doing this? – Unfortunately we don’t
know, there’s a group of us trying to get that data
together, as we know people come along, we
add them to this group but we just don’t know, at
one point it was less than 50 I would still probably
say it’s less than 60 across the country, it’s
growing, but we’re just kind of a small knit group, tryna make
things happen in libraries really working together,
talking about programming or programs, or how our
programs are working you know what services are you providing and how are you doing it? It’s been a really great
resource just given the fact that we aren’t, I’m not
supervised by a social worker so sometimes having that
resource of what’s ethical and what can we do, or
oh that’s a great idea it’s just been really
great, so we don’t have an exact number yet, but
I know we all want it. – This space, this whole
library, is beautiful. – Yeah. – It has such a warm, welcoming feeling. And I can walk around and I pretty much and you too, cause you’ve
been doing this for a while you know who’s homeless on the computer everybody’s so well behaved,
you know, there’s this stigma surrounding
homelessness, that they’re all drug addicts, they’re
all mentally ill, and yes that’s an issue with people on the streets but I just love coming
in here, seeing my people if you would, our homeless
neighbors, having such a cool environment to hang out with,
and that you’re providing support, I just love it. – Yeah, it is, we’ve got a,
you know, one of our tenets is to be welcoming and
to be caring, and I think our entire staff are just
welcoming to everyone and not, you know, picking
and choosing and trying to figure out what people’s stories are letting our customers
tell their own stories and then helping them to
meet their needs, and so I think what happens here is beautiful. – What would you say to other communities or other libraries about
starting something like this? Because I’m sure every
library in the country is having a challenge with low income and the homeless population. – Sure, so well if you’re
interested in starting something like this, there’s
a whole community out there PLA, so the Public Library
Association, has created a taskforce, and we help
to host monthly webinars and so you can get on, and
you can ask social workers questions who work in libraries,
how does this get started or where do I go, what am
I looking for, what kind of programs can we offer,
how much does it cost? You’re gonna ask all kinds of questions and get all kinds of answers,
and they’re also recorded. So if you haven’t been to
any of the ones in the past you can log onto PLA now,
listen to the live ones from the past, get some
answers, and find some places to get started, as well as
get some contact information for how to reach out to myself
or some of the ones that we have up in New Jersey, or
in California, or Chicago. – Great, I will link to it below. Any last words? – I mean, I’ve always said
that this has probably been the highlight of my
career, it’s been, you know as a social worker we think
about micro, so helping individuals one on one,
and then macro, so helping whole communities, and this
has been like a meso-placement you know, I get to do a
little bit of everything and it is the most
rewarding job I’ve ever had and I’m really proud
of what’s happened here and what the library’s doing. – I’m glad Reggie brought me
up, you know, when he first said the library I was like,
oh I do libraries all the time and then I walk into this beautiful space and most libraries are
beautiful, you guys are just exceptionally beautiful,
you know, it’s just very welcoming and light and
beautiful, and then you have this space and there’s a bunch
of you, really great and thank you for taking the time. – Oh, well thank you. – Yeah, if you’re out there
and you’re curious about this I’ll provide some links
below, I’ll link to the Dallas Library video I did and
many of you use the library you have homeless neighbors
there, I mean they’re our community too, and
we have to remember that. So thanks everybody for watching. (upbeat music)

44 thoughts on “Richland Library Social Workers Helping Homeless People in Columbia, South Carolina

  1. Thank you for highlighting the amazing work our team of social workers is doing in the Midlands.

  2. Bless you Mark, bless this woman and bless those also helping…most of all blessings to those in need!💝

  3. Some of your videos make me depressed…. But this one made me happy and I hope more are like these Social workers. We need more goodness in a world full of coldness.

  4. thanks for no background music. I love that I can concentrate completely on the souls and communication. its authentic and dramatic enough. I love your clean elegant style and honesty interactions in the videos. God bless you very much. 🙏😊

  5. Mark said “This came about because of the Affordable Health Care Act” aka ObamaCare. We need to elect a Democrat to keep these programs alive because Trump has already tried to kill Obamacare and if he’s re-elected in 2020 he’ll succeed in killing it.

  6. Finally! The State of South Carolina has something it can be proud of. If the people here would get busy helping and serving those in need instead of hating and discriminating against those who are different than them, maybe SC could be a good state for EVERYONE!!

  7. Thank you Richland Library! South Carolina isn't willing to help homeless or poor. I live in SC. Other states I've lived & worked in do much better.

  8. That is a smart idea: use the library! After all, they have not really been used since the advent of the internet, so this is a built-in ready-space. Every town and city should consider this.

  9. Welcome to the New America where illegal aliens get drivers license, paid school lunches for their children, medical coverage to all their families and not to mention the support they get from many Americans when these criminals are near deportation from the law. Yet here we have Americans, sleeping in the streets… what happened to the America first?

  10. I'd love for this to be in my library. Mark, if you and I can meet, let's!! And I have a free safe sober place for you to stay.

  11. The library downtown in Hopewell Virginia that they discourage homeless people and it's our tax money and they really hate the homeless to go to the library it's the main man in charge there I forgot his name people should really look into the sky and they should really look into the Hopewell Library in downtown and make them stop being such Nazis

  12. But sadly some libraries get anal if you fall asleep and the homeless get kicked out because of course there a public nuisance totally wrong

  13. This is good stuff! I work with the homeless and low income families in Toronto Canada for over 20 years, and finding resources is key to assisting people in everyday living! Thank you ❤️ we need the government to step up.

  14. So happy that this is happening at the library. I am grateful they are helping so many people. May the Creator bless all the work you do to help everyone that needs it.

  15. Thank you for showing some of the good happening in South Carolina. Lee seems really familiar to me (I've lived a bunch in the Upstate / Greenville area, but not in the midlands). Have been to that library — it is nice! This is how we're all going to work together to make things better… Thank you so much, Mark, for everything you do, for all the connections you make with people, and all that you share.

  16. Absolutely fascinating and really, a wonderful evolution, if u will, of the " library" system.. Kudos and BRAVO!!

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