November 20, 2023
Earlier this fall, People Incorporated began a partnership with Saint Paul Public Libraries (SPPL) to embed a social worker into its public spaces. Allison Hoden, MSW, LGSW, is about three months into her role that integrates social services and support into three of Saint Paul’s major libraries.
Hoden first began meeting with patrons on October 19th through regular afternoon drop-in hours at Rondo Community Library, Rice Street Library, and George Latimer Central Library. Outside of her drop-in hours, she meets regularly with librarians, People Incorporated staff and community agencies like the Saint Paul Opportunity Center to share more about the services available in the community. Much of her work during drop-in hours includes referring community members to People Incorporated’s programs and other community resources when needed. In her first month and a half, she has encountered a range of needs: patrons seeking help with finding shelter resources, securing housing, accessing food resources, gaining employment, securing legal aid, and more.
“Libraries are one of the few community spaces left that are open, free, and accessible to everybody,” said Hoden. “You see people from all walks of life here – all demographics, all economic statuses, and you get a variety of questions and needs. Libraries are a gathering space for people.”
Connecting social work with public libraries is still somewhat of a newer concept. Hoden views it as a unique opportunity to meet patrons where they’re at and provide personal, accessible, no-strings-attached support to those who need it most. To her, the integration of these two services makes perfect sense.
“There’s a lot of overlap between libraries and social services, in terms of providing service to people and wanting to help people find solutions and get what they need,” Hoden said. “This integration allows anybody to access social work or mental health resources if that’s what they need.”
This innovative and revolutionary collaboration between People Incorporated and SPPL underscores a shared commitment to creating community partnership solutions and providing low-barrier integrated services to those in need. It’s just one example of People Incorporated’s community-based work, adding to the list of our partnerships with library services, correctional facilities, and local law enforcement agencies, including a longstanding one with the Saint Paul Police Department. We know that we are better together, and these partnerships only enhance our ability to reach those in need of person-centered mental health support.
To support 21st-century collaborative work like this in the years to come, consider making a gift to People Incorporated. Your generosity allows us to lower barriers and meet the community where they are and when they need us most.