Homeless Outreach is “Soliciting” in the Public Library?

Posted December 9th, 2016 @ 9:54 AM by

Or perhaps “profiling”? The outreach worker (a high school teacher) was kicked out of the library. Has there been a change in policy? Homeless Services Consortium (paid) agencies reserve rooms in the library during business hours and don’t offer a fraction of what (volunteer) Friends of the State St. Family offer for people living on the streets. I’ll let Tami Miller explain . . .

From: Tami Fleming [mailto:fssfhomelessoutreach@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, December 08, 2016 9:27 AM
To: Collins, Jennifer; Mickells, Gregory
Cc: Beth Maglio
Subject: Policy change at the Central Library? Our volunteer was kicked out for “Profiling” and “Soliciting”
December 8, 2016
Dear Ms. Collins and Mr. Mickells,

The Friends of the State Street Family is an inclusive all-volunteer community-based homeless outreach project, which has been operating in Madison since 2011. Together with our almost 2,000 area supporters we have helped hundreds of homeless individuals get off the streets of Madison, and into permanent, supportive housing. Our volunteers have fed over 31,200 free meals only a block away from your Central Library to vulnerable people who are homeless or marginalized by extreme poverty. Our Outreach Teams walk the streets 5-6 nights a week, bringing survival gear, medical professionals, homeless service consortium agency workers and intervene in many crisis situations. Our group does several other events that have engaged many community groups in becoming the solution and helping the people suffering on Madison’s streets get the help they need to get clean and sober, obtain employment, go back to school, reconnect with family or get the services they need to move forward in life.

Our group is truly community based as we are proud to partner with churches, Veteran’s groups, Buddhist temples, and synagogues as well as atheists- we also partner with Capitol, City Police and even Anonymous as we serve our homeless neighbors at no cost to the taxpayer. We do not proselytize because we respect each individual’s beliefs and want to make sure they feel comfortable utilizing our services no matter what they are. We are members of the Homeless Service Consortium, the DMI and have been awarded the Channel 27 Jefferson Award, Dane County Sheriff’s Citizen Award and the United Way Volunteer of the year award in Madison recently for our work in the community.

That is why we were astonished to find out that one of our trained outreach volunteers, (who is also a High School Teacher- Mrs. Maglio) was kicked out of the Central Library last night at 7:30 p.m. for “soliciting”. Mrs. Maglio walked into the library and privately approached 2 different men that she knew from her months of outreach to check and see if they had a plan for safety that night- letting them know that the shelters had lifted all restrictions due to extreme weather, and letting them know that if they would not go indoors for the evening, she would give them blankets, hot fluids, hand-warmers and other gear to make sure they would survive the cold. Mrs. Maglio did not walk into the library with any backpack or gear, she left her outreach partner in the entryway with the wagon and backpacks they usually carry.

The young man who approached her was polite, but when Mrs. Maglio explained what she was doing, he said he was new- so he deferred to a more senior staff person who simply said “Not here you’re not.” and they kicked her out of the Central Library for “Soliciting” and “Profiling”. Mrs. Maglio explained that she knew both men, she was not profiling-and my understanding of the definition of soliciting has nothing to do with checking on the welfare of a vulnerable neighbor during emergency weather conditions. The more seasoned staff person emphatically stated that the Administration would say the same thing as they made her leave.

Our Outreach teams have checked on people wherever they are in the past 5 years, it’s part of what we do to make sure very poverty stricken and vulnerable, often times disabled people are safe. We have gone into coffee shops, the Capitol, churches, day centers, the shelters and from time to time we have stopped into a Public library or two that homeless individuals we know and have relationships with frequent. We do not draw attention to ourselves or ask for anything from anyone- we just check in and make sure people are safe. Sometimes, we give them things they need to survive the elements- because that’s what you do when you have a neighbor in need. We typically have them come outside to retrieve what they need, unless there is a mobility issue so there is no disruption to the environment and attention is not drawn to the individual.

Did the Madison Public Library policy change all of a sudden? Perhaps this was just a “bad call” on the part of the Central Library Staff at the time? Or, if this is truly the policy that the Public Library Administration wants enforced in the City of Madison-I guess we need to know that going forward. If you do support the actions of your employees last night, the members of Friends of the State Street Family would like to know how what Mrs. Maglio was doing was “profiling” or “soliciting” in any way?

We look forward to your response,

Tami Fleming
Executive Director
Friends of the State Street Family

Website: www.friendsofthestatestreetfamily.org
E-mail: fssfhomelessoutreach@gmail.com
Outreach Line: 608-535-9394 (Voice to Text)

That was strange, the response was even more curious in that he didn’t say there hasn’t been a change in policy . . . so maybe there has?

On Thu, Dec 8, 2016 at 10:42 AM, Mickells, Gregory wrote:
Dear Ms. Fleming,
Thank you for sharing your concern with me. Before I can fully respond to your inquiry I will need to visit with staff so I can better understand the circumstances concerning the events of last night. Madison Public Library knows how important it is to work with the many organizations and agencies that provide a variety of services to the community. We do this in a very intentional way so that we can be effective and deliver the best we can for those that need those services. I would be happy to meet with you and discuss how we could work together to achieve a common goal.
If you would like to meet please call 608-266-6342, Cindi Ofstun will be able to schedule a time, or the direct line to my office is 608-267-1184.
Best,
Greg

Gregory P. Mickells
Library Director

Madison Public Library
201 W Mifflin St
Madison, WI 53703

Office: 608-267-1184
gmickells@madisonpubliclibrary.org

I’ll be anxious to hear what happens.

From: Tami Fleming
Date: Thu, Dec 8, 2016 at 11:13 AM
Subject: Re: Policy change at the Central Library? Our volunteer was kicked out for “Profiling” and “Soliciting”
To: “Mickells, Gregory”
Cc: “Collins, Jennifer” , Beth Maglio, “Ragland, Enis” , “Spelman, Michael” , “Elias, Tana”

Thank you Greg,

Here is a news story from last night, the person being interviewed is Mrs. Maglio- this footage was taken about a half hour before being forced to leave the Central library. As you can see by her interview, she is a very well spoken professional. Please note that she did not bring anything with her inside the library- (no backpacks or wagon). It also confirms the intent Mrs. Maglio had that evening as she entered the library to check on individuals who were not in shelter.

http://www.wkow.com/story/34002833/2016/12/07/several-lend-a-helping-hand-to-the-homeless-braving-the-cold-temperatures

WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter,

Tami

I hope this gets resolved soon . . .


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