Notes from Newcastle: Library has help when you need it

January 2, 2015

By Vicki Heck

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My brother has probably always been mentally ill, but it wasn’t until he was in his late 20s that a psychiatrist confirmed his schizophrenia. Adding to his complexity, he is vulnerable with a developmental disability, a wandering soul and a fierce streak of independence.

Before I became his official caregiver in 1999, my family saw him evicted from apartments, thrown in jail and pursued by collection agencies, and he was one bad break away from becoming homeless. Flash forward 15 years and I’m happy to say, with the proper help from a variety of agencies, my brother is stable.

My personal experiences with my brother and my work as a public librarian make me keenly aware of the challenges some of our community members face. The Newcastle Library doesn’t often see the challenging societal issues some of our other King County Library System branches face, but we remain aware the need for assistance exists in every community, regardless of age, ethnicity or income level.

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Our library carries a book called “Where to Turn” that provides resources and referral information for any challenges a person may face. It’s always available on our Reference shelves (361.0025 WHE). Compiled by the King County Crisis Clinic, it lists local crisis resources covering food, shelter and domestic abuse.

But it also provides many non-emergency resources and referrals including those for caregivers, chemical dependency, eating disorders, seniors, GLBTQ, youths and parenting issues. An even easier way to get this same help is call 211 to be connected to an operator, or go to http://win211.org.

On Jan. 22, the Newcastle Library will be participating in “Count Us In 2015,” a survey taking place all across King County trying to count youths and young adults, ages 12-25, who are unstably housed or homeless.

Homeless teens and young adults will be surveyed in the library to tell the story of homelessness in King County and help our community understand the scope of the issues teens face. If this is a topic you’re interested in, we have compiled a reading list to inform and inspire action here http://ow.ly/GhtsI.

Our hope is everyone in our community is well cared for and looked after, but challenging circumstances affect us all. Know that there are people who care and are standing by to help with a simple phone call to 211. My brother uses these resources, even today, and he is happier and healthier because of the help he has found.

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