Library Hires Community Support Specialist

YOUNGSTOWN (May 21, 2019/For immediate release) – The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County (PLYMC) has hired Shari Buchmann as the new Community Support Specialist, a part-time position that will enable the Library to better serve patrons with needs in social service and mental health areas. The new position is part of a $27,600 grant the Library received from the Gerald M. Kline Family Foundation of San Ramon, CA, for a pilot program in this field.

The Gerald M. Kline Family Foundation, based in Emeryville, California, has provided over $10 million dollars to philanthropic causes since its inception. The Foundation is particularly interested in public library initiatives that provide innovative services to the communities they serve.

Patrons can reach Shari Buchmann at:   330-720-6883

Aimee Fifarek, PLYMC Executive Director, said, “We are grateful to the Gerald M. Kline Foundation for providing a grant which enables the library to offer to our patrons a very different kind of assistance. This project aims to provide a way to connect people needing social services with resources that can help.” She noted that some patrons who frequent the Library may be struggling with issues beyond library service expertise, such as homelessness, addictions, depression and more.

Ms. Fifarek noted, “With this new position, we will not only have the expertise needed to help our patrons, but we will also be able to train our staff to better serve patrons with social and emotional needs.”

Mrs. Buchmann, a licensed social worker, has been in the field of social work for 21 years. She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Youngstown State University in 1998. She most recently has been employed by the Area Agency on Aging for the last 13 years, and has past work experience in the foster care system and nursing homes. She started her job at the Library on May 13.

She is also self-employed with Power of Potential Training and Advocacy Center. The Center provides continuing education units to social workers, counselors and marriage/family therapists. The Center also provides advocacy services for the special needs population, particularly parents and special needs children.

Why was she interested in the Library job? She says, “What the Library was looking for exactly matched my areas of expertise. Gathering information from folks, setting them up with proper resources… it’s what I do. My knowledge of what’s available in the community is valuable. The Library’s resources are phenomenal. It’s a wonderful combination. What a great idea to have social workers in a library setting, because this is where people come to get information. It just makes sense that we should be able to point them in the right direction.”

Staff will provide Mrs. Buchmann with referrals from patrons who seek assistance. “My rule is – if you give me a problem, I want to give you a solution.”

She is licensed with the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist Board.

Mrs. Buchmann was born and raised in Youngstown and resides in Cornersburg with husband Anthony and their four teenagers.

The Library has a partnership in this grant with Hope Haney, Executive Director of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Mahoning Valley.  About NAMI: “NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. What started as a small group of families gathered around a kitchen table in 1979 has blossomed into the nation’s leading voice on mental health. Today, we are an association of hundreds of local affiliates, state organizations and volunteers who work in your community to raise awareness and provide support and education that was not previously available to those in need.” []

The Library’s grant project is multi-faceted and includes contracting the Community Resource Specialist for a trial period, providing staff training from Ms. Haney, directing patrons to community resources, and providing programming for the general public on mental health and substance abuse issues. The programming goals are to inform and to make it easier for people to have productive public discussions about mental health issues.