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Berkshire Athenaeum Seeks to Expand Social Support Advocacy
By Sabrina Damms, iBerkshires Staff
05:30AM / Friday, March 17, 2023
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Athenaeum has been doing working on providing a lot of advocacy for more social support in the library, Director Alex Reczkowski said during the meeting last week 
The result of this has "borne fruit" he said, so the library has a stronger infrastructure. It has been collaborating with community organizations to provide these type of services. 
Recently, a case worker from ServiceNet has spent a lot of time doing direct care and getting people into housing. And Berkshire Harm Reduction's van, Better Life Partners, and the the Community Health Program's Mobile Health Unit are at the library on a rotating schedule. 
Organizations on a more stable schedule include Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, the Brien Center, and Project North. 
On Mondays from 9 to noon, Habitat for Humanity has a community navigator at the library and on Wednesdays from 11 to 2.
On Tuesday mornings, an engagement coordinator from the Brien Center sometimes brings a recovery coach along and also comes on Thursdays. 
On Wednesday afternoons, Andy Rock from Project NORTH (Navigation, Outreach, Recovery, Treatment, and Hope), a federally funded behavioral support program that works with the trial court, makes a weekly visit after he's done in drug court.
"Project NORTH is an outgrowth of community support options. They provide additional resources and support for folks who are just as involved," Reczkowski said. 
Rock has connected residents with housing and transportation outside of the area. So if someone is in a "rut in the Berkshires," he can sometimes connect them with housing in surrounding areas to get a fresh start. 
A social worker from the city's Health Department is at the library from 9 to noon on Thursdays. She will also be at the library on Fridays from 10 to noon. 
Becca Lauria, who's a senior clinician with the McGee recovery unit, has been on site Thursdays from 1 to 2.
The Pittsfield Hub meets in the library every Thursday in the Athenaeum Room to connect people with resources. 
The Hub consists of approximately 20 organizations including the Police Department, the sheriff's office, management from the Brien Center, and more. Each of the service providers bring their own literature to set up at the table and has badges identifying themselves. 
Having these services have been very helpful not only providing support to residents but also to library staff, Reczkowski said. 
An example of this was when a patron was not acting in a "library mode," being loud, shouting vulgar language, and laying on the furniture. 
During this incident, it was helpful to have the city social worker present to communicate with the individual providing them other alternatives. 
Having the city social worker assist the staff meant that some groundwork could be laid for the resident to get further help in a more clinical way, Reczkowski said. 
More information on the library here
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