City Mission and Citizens Library Partner to Build a Better Community

Washington, PA - Citizens Library exterior view

Working with the Resources of Our Local Library to Improve Resident Opportunities

City Mission is working with the Citizens Library to expand the resources available to help restore their residents to sustainable, independent living.  The collaboration is a natural one.  “Our primary goal is to help prepare people for life outside these four walls,” said Steve Nicholas, the City Mission Director of Career Training and Education.  “Partnering with Citizens Library helps us provide more support, resources, and tools to more people.”

“I was ecstatic when Steve came to us,” explained Diane Ambrose, the Executive Director of the Citizens Library.  “We were very excited to know that the Mission is helping train people for local jobs.”

staff members at the library

Kathy Pienkowski , the Circulation Services Manager at Citizens Library, gave Nicholas several electronic cards, which could be used by City Mission residents to access all of the library’s resources, including their job search database, Gale courses, and media center.  “We’re more than happy to collaborate,” said Pienkowski.  “City Mission is right in our backyard.  A stronger community is made through collaboration.  And people and businesses, everybody is made better by a stronger community.”

welcome area of the library

In the world of non-profits, where organizations compete over a small pool of donor funds, it would be easy for City Mission and Citizens Library to see each other as competitors.  “We really appreciate that Citizens Library doesn’t view us as a competitor,” said Nicholas.  “We’re working together to build each other up and to build up the community around us.”

“We’re not here to compete,” explained Ambrose.  “We’re here to serve people.”

City Mission residents are taking advantage of the Gale courses offered by Citizens Library.  Gale courses are free, online courses focused on professional development, technology skills, and personal enrichment.  They cover a wide range of topics, from Accounting to Writing and Publishing to Teaching, Technology, and Healthcare.  “We’ve had 14 certifications through Gale courses for our residents in the last 3 months,” said Nicholas of the online courses available through the Citizens Library.  “This is something that builds resumes and builds focus.  It’s been awesome!”

Ryan M., a current resident of City Mission, has completed eight Gale courses and achieved six certifications during his time at the Mission.  “I started taking the courses to keep my mind engaged and focused while I’m preparing to transition back into college,” he said.  “And I’ve also been able to gain some certifications I can put on a resume.”

rows of bookshelves

The Gale courses have also helped Ryan to give back to the City Mission community and to mentor fellow residents.  His experience has allowed him to guide other residents through the process of selecting courses that best fit their needs.  Recently, when City Mission staff selected him as a Resident Assistant to supervise and mentor other residents, Ryan took an Assertiveness Training course to help him become a better mentor and role model.  “I’ve always struggled in that area,” he explained.  “I’ve always been more passive, and I looked at that as a positive trait.  But this course is helping me see assertiveness in a new kind of way.”

City Mission’s Vocational Assistant, Brianna Kadlecik, has taken four Gale Courses so far and plans to take more.  The first course she took was Introduction to Microsoft Excel.  “By the second lesson, I was already implementing my new skills into my work.  The course really helped me understand the logic behind the system.  I highly recommend Gale courses to any staff person.  I’m already seeing applications in my everyday work.”

City Mission is also utilizing the Citizens Library’s Media Center, which enables participants to record audio and video sessions.  Steve Nicholas is using the Media Center to record mock interview sessions with the residents to help them prepare for job searches.  “We were able to watch the sessions with the residents, which allowed me to coach each individual through the playback.  Without the library, I would not have been able to coach them through the mock interviews.  When you get to see yourself, you see more clearly your own strengths and weaknesses.”

“This isn’t your Grandmother’s library anymore,” said Kathy Pienkowski of the Citizens Library.  “We’re trying to turn around the perception of the library through collaborations with other organizations that are doing great things in the community.  We’re selling literacy and life-long learning.  Books are just the beginning.”

Nicholas added, “We’re looking forward to a continued partnership with Citizens Library.”

October 23, 2018
Susan Gartland - Social Media Manager
Sue Gartland
Social Media Manager
Sue has a vast career in gospel rescue missions adding great value to the City Mission team. Sue has been in many roles in the mission and is always filling in where she is needed - which is A LOT!

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