Broome County Public Library offers resources, safe space
BINGHAMTON (WBNG) - The Broome County Public Library is aware that folks in our community are maybe homeless, food insecure, among other reasons, which is why the Peer Support Room was assembled earlier this year. Though it’s available throughout the year, as the weather gets cold, the resource is highlighted once again.
“They come here because we’re open to everyone with no questions asked,” said Library Director Josias Bartram. “If you think about it, there aren’t a lot of public spaces that are left where you can just walk in without going through security and where you can just spend time without the expectation that you will do anything or that you’ll buy anything.”
Bartram said the resource room started to open up around late February or March of this year, but this will be the first full winter with the space.
“It’s really important to work on making sure that folks have a place to go when it’s dangerously cold out,” said Bartram. “The other time that we see a big uptick is when it’s dangerously hot out.”
While the room usually functions as a space to hangout in the warmth or AC, at certain times, it serves as a gateway or connector to local resources through peer counselors.
“Our peer counselors have been through the Catholic Charities Mental Health Treatment System, so they have experienced it themselves that’s why they’re peers, and they’re here to help people navigate various different kinds of systems and resources to get help,” said the director.
Bartram said the format seems to be working for users of the space.
“Both in terms of the number of people coming into the room and the number of refferals for services,” he said. “Both have really picked up over the last couple of months.”
Funds are coming from a two-year grant, but the director is looking ahead to the future.
“In the next year, we need to start to figure out what it’s going to will look like after that grant,” said Bartram. “It’s a service that we’re committed to continuing to provide and hopefully expand.”
The space is possible due to a partnership with the Catholic Charities of Broome County and funds come through the Klee Foundation. When it comes to the peer counselors, support is available Mondays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and then Tuesday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
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