Thursday, December 05, 2013

This note came to me after our all-staff meeting on Tuesday.  Inside look into the world of CitySquare!

The TED Talk reminded me of a new program at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library that launched in September with the help of two CitySquare AmeriCorps members.  The program is an effort to more proactively embrace the homeless neighbors who regularly visit the library, a constituency that has long been ignored, marginalized and dismissed by fellow patrons and library staff. In fact one homeless neighbor expressed that she has visited the library every day for the past 10 years and has never been addressed or approached by a staff member…until now.

To more effectively understand the needs of these neighbors, the library now hosts a regular “Coffee & Conversations” hour where homeless neighbors are directly engaged in conversation with each other and perhaps more notably, with library staff. For the first time in the library’s history, staff are learning the names, stories, needs, interests and dreams of folks they have discounted for years.

New programs are being implemented at the library that is driven and developed by the homeless for the homeless. The change is transformational and exciting and it would not be possible without the two AmeriCorps members.

If you ever visit the Central Library, you will see a Resource Center on the first floor staffed by two members. They are available daily to any neighbor in need of referral services – or even just to chat. The next Coffee & Conversations is this Thursday, December 5th at 2 pm on the first floor. If you are available, I encourage you to stop by! In fact, one of the projects they are starting is a podcast with these neighbors to share their stories and there has already been a request to get an interview with you!

Here are the two members serving downtown, both are Food on the Move alum from last summer as well! (L: Antoinette Carey Spriggs; R: Dominique Edwards)

Had to share!

In service,

Jennifer A. Rajkumar

Director of AmeriCorps 

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