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Social worker at Mandel Public Library helps struggling families

Posted at 12:09 PM, Apr 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-20 12:09:12-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — It is the last place Olivia Bren expected to find help.

Living out of her car, the mother of two was at the Mandel Public Library in West Palm Beach one day. Little did she know she was about to get the help she needed.

Almost a year ago, the library received a grant to hire a full-time social worker for families who've fallen on hard times.

The position, in such a place, is almost unheard of. However, as libraries evolve, it's a need that is evident.

"We've seen families go from living in their cars to being housed. We have families that are on that path," said Kathy Hage, who applied for the grant at the library.

Rainer Goldberg is the social worker who's taken some of the stigma away. She mingles with moms as they come out of story time. She often becomes the go-between for job hunting parents who may not have a phone to receive callbacks.

"What we're seeing is people who've never been in the system who need to access food support, diaper support, and it's almost like the relationship we form is to help them know that this is for everyone," Goldberg said.

Bren said Goldberg has helped her pick up the broken pieces and turn the page on a tough chapter.