Jennifer Ford was listening to a National Public Radio (NPR) story about the Davenport Public Library bringing in a social worker, and she immediately thought Marshalltown could benefit from something similar.
Ford, who is herself a social worker at Iowa River Hospice, approached her boss, Emily Carson, and asked her to donate some of her time to the Marshalltown Public Library (MPL) in an effort to replicate the program. of Davenport.
“I was trying to be the spearhead that hadn’t been to Marshalltown yet, but I thought they should be,” Ford said.
MPL director Sarah Rosenblum loved the idea – which has since been named ‘Community Connections: River of Hope’ – and although the ultimate goal is to employ a full-time social worker, Ford will be available on third Tuesday of every month from 2-4pm for now as it takes off. Tuesday was her first day, and she’s already seen at least one client on a totally free basis.
“Where do people go who don’t have a lot of resources? Often they come here,” Rosenblum said. “We have to develop the program, and it’s our very first day. But we would like to have a full time social worker.
The program also builds on the successful launch of the Marshalltown Police and Community Team (MPACT), which embedded social workers within the police department, and Rosenblum said she believes a social worker full-time at the library could “intercept” situations that end up involving MPACT and police officers.
“I think it could be, not necessarily an expansion, but it could be a collaboration,” Rosenblum said.
Additionally, Ford sees it as a way to give back to the community and further the Iowa River Hospice’s mission outside of its physical walls.
“If you can respect your social determinants of health, you’ll be a more productive citizen, and we’re going to be a better city and a better community if we all give a little to make everyone copacetic. , to take everyone to the next level,” she said.
It’s a common — but false — assumption, Rosenblum noted, that everyone has an email address, cell phone, and Internet access, and she hopes programs like this can help bridge the gap. -calling “digital divide” and helping people get the resources they need.
“Just letting people know about some little things that are available in the community helps them stretch those dollars, especially as we head into a possible recession,” Ford said. “If we can get more agencies to join us and donate one day a week, I’m all for it.”
If sufficient need is demonstrated, Ford and Rosenblum plan to apply for grants that would allow the program to expand. Telephone appointments are encouraged, but walk-in appointments will be accepted. All appointments are free. The MPL can be reached at (641) 754-5738.
Contact Robert Maharry at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or [email protected]