One of the largest awards in its history, the Broome County Public Library announced Tuesday a $75 thousand grant from the Conrad & Virginia Klee Foundation. Paired with $15 thousand from the Library’s operating budget, the funding will be used for a peer-based mental health program.
“Because we are free and open to all, the Broome County Public Library serves Broome County’s most vulnerable residents, including those struggling with homelessness, mental health, and addiction,” said Library Director Josias Bartram. “We strive to be a welcoming and judgement-free environment where members of the public can take advantage of all the services we offer. However, there is a clear need for more than what we have been able to provide through our existing programs and staff.”
“Our library is one of the County’s best assets, providing a wide range of programs for everyone,” said Broome County Executive Jason Garnar. “This new program will complement the other services offered at the Library and by other Broome County departments. Mental health is a community-wide issue that has been exacerbated by the pandemic and I appreciate Josias’ leadership in spearheading this effort, as well as the support from Catholic Charities and, of course, the Klee Foundation.”
The Broome County Public Library Peer Support Partnership is a two-year pilot program in partnership with Catholic Charities of Broome County. The Library is contracting with Catholic Charities to provide two Peer Support Specialists for a total of 39 hours per week. Peer support—which harnesses the lived experience of counselors who are themselves in recovery from mental illness—is ideal for the Library and reflects the commitment to fully engage our community and offer innovative solutions. The program will be based in the Library’s Public Lounge, which has been renovated by the Broome County Department of Public Works for this purpose.