Library survey targets homeless with acts of kindness

30 Kindness corner jim martin NEW

Jim Martin, who has opened nearly two dozen three-quarter houses statewide and is the director of the ACE Peer Center, is in the midst of a two-week survey of Georgetown Public Library patrons that could lead to creation of a Kindness Corner that would assist those homeless and in need of services and compassion.

GEORGETOWN – Public libraries are home to books, community programs, job connections and other services and amenities.

They are also home to homelessness, folks in transition and folks with little or no hope.

To address the issue, Georgetown Public Library is taking a pro-active approach, serving as a survey pilot in an initiative that could lead to app-based support and “Kindness Corners” monitored by peers.

“Here in Georgetown being the county seat there is a lot of transitional housing,” said Sherri Scott, Georgetown Public Library’s Director of Youth Services. “They may not be totally homeless but they may be in a shelter for six months or seven and not know where to go from there.”

Jim Martin, a recovering addict who has opened nearly two dozen three-quarter houses statewide, is director of the ACE (Acceptance Change Empowerment) Peer Resource Center in Seaford that is working in collaboration with the Georgetown Public Library.

Beginning Sept. 21, Mr. Martin is in the midst of a two-week survey mission, canvassing Georgetown library patrons for insight and ideas “on a hospitality program like “Kindness Corner” in the development phase of the proposed project.

“One of the things they want to do in this survey is see how we can better help when they come into our libraries,” Ms. Scott said. “What can we do? Where can we direct them? Where can we show them to go? His survey is to try to find out what people’s needs are. This is a place where we can give information. So we are working together with Jim and some other people that he knows.”

Ms. Scott said she and 14 other librarians throughout the State of Delaware are in a program called ILEAD, which is a leadership program in the libraries statewide.

“My team, we are working on developing a homeless app – an app for the homeless,” said Ms. Scott. “When homeless people come into our libraries – because all of the libraries have them – they come in here because it’s a safe place. It’s warm or cool, depending on the season. They get free internet access and everything like that.”

“We are developing this app that will show shelters. It will show food, clothing, medical supplies and financial help. It is going to be an app that we can click on our phones or tablets or whatever and we can direct them to the nearest place,” said Ms. Scott.

The app would provide technological mobility in locating help, services and places in the area. It might also encompass the faith community.

As part of the ILEAD, she had to get a community representative.

“So I found Jim. They are developing this ‘Kindness Corner’ which can coincide with libraries,” said Ms. Scott.

“Our plan is to develop a community of peers right there at the library,” said Mr. Martin. “We do not want to come in and take over the community that is already there we want to develop a Leadership Committee within the existing peer community that already is there. We want to develop leaders that will be elected into the committee and then the committee will man the stations at the Kindness Corner.’”

The Kindness Corner would incorporate recovering peers – people who have been down the homeless, hopeless path that includes addiction – and can relate and speak from experience.

“When it’s run by peers, you can’t fool people,” said Ms. Martin. “When the peers are really running the thing then you know that there is going to be honesty and truth. You really just have to level with people. We know when we have a knucklehead on our hands; we know.”

Depending on what the survey says, the initiative could spread statewide.

“The state of Delaware; there are people also working on this,” Ms. Scott said. “They are going to try to make this survey thing that we doing here a statewide thing in all of the libraries. We are the pilot here in Georgetown.”

Last winter, the Georgetown Public Library encountered homeless people during the bitter cold.

“We did have some. We had people come that had nowhere to go,” said Ms. Scott. “We don’t know when these people come in if they live in a mansion or if they are homeless; well, sometimes you can tell. It doesn’t matter. We are here to serve them all.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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