UNION, S.C. (WSPA) – The South Carolina Office of Rural Health has launched a pilot program along with the Union County Carnegie Library and the University of South Carolina School of Social Work.
This group’s collaborative program is aimed at giving rural areas better connections with social workers and local programs aimed at helping the community.
Currently, the program has one USC social work masters student at the library two days a week, Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.
The program acts as a one-stop-shop for Union County residents in need of help for almost anything: jobs, child care, emergency supplies, etc…
Since last August, it has been hands on training while helping the community, for Sarah Fling, her official working title, social work intern.
“Actually starting to see people. Having them come in and having them ask for me, it’s been a real wonderful experience,” Fling said.
Fling is currently the only student intern in this program; but, no one at Union County library has complained.
“Adding an additional service, like the social work support, really amplifies what we’re able to do to serve our community, ” Drinkwine said.
Rieta Drinkwine, the library’s Systems Director, explained that this program supports the library’s goal: Give the community access to opportunities.
“We consider our focus to be support of education. We refer to it as education adjacent,” Drinkwine said.
The library is partnered with the United Way of Piedmont, Americorps, Safe Home and Miracle League to name a few.
So, having been added to the list, Sarah added, she’s happy to be of help.
“[The library] is a free open space. Especially in small towns, people know everyone. So, you can come here without that judgement,” Fling said.
Rural Health’s Program Manager, Lindsey Kilgo, explained that Fling’s presence can bring additional connections to residents to library’s partners they may not know about.
“When she’s interacting with those patients or those clients and community members. She knows how to best interact and support their needs,” Kilgo said.
Kilgo noted that this program was something she’s been passionate about for years.
She said she was ecstatic to learn that her department earned a grant, through Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina Foundation, to fund this pilot program.
“Everyone needs help,” Kilgo said. “It just makes my heart happy, right? I mean, folks are getting what they need.”
While in the beginning of the program, Fling was just working to get the foundation down and word out to the community that she was there.
She has since gained a steady stream of community connections. After the clothing store, Label Shopper closed down, she was able to receive get donated items for a clothing drive at the library.
“I like to have that connection and that relationship with them. Just letting them know that I’m here for them and they can always come by and see me when they need to,” Fling said.
For those looking for any kind of help, no appointment or deposit necessary, you can just come in and meet Fling on Mondays and Tuesdays.
For those looking to help Fling, she added she needs items for clients in emergency need:
- Gift Cards
- Canned Goods
- Click here to reach out to the library and learn how else to help
The ultimate goal of this pilot program is to have social workers and those who can help in every rural county library across the state.