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Library Therapy Dogs

December 22, 2020

The Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County has hired Jim Young as a community support specialist, a position that will help the library better serve patrons with social service and mental health needs.

“We are pleased to have someone so well-qualified on staff to connect people needing social services with community resources that may best be able to help,” library Executive Director Aimee Fifarek said in a news release. “We recognize that many people in our community are struggling with issues beyond library service expertise, such as homelessness, addictions, depression and more. Mr. Young comes to the library with an abundance of experience and will be available to link our patrons to the type of help they need.”

Young has a master’s degree in social work from Youngstown State University and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He has been a licensed independent social worker since 2018.

He has worked for Youth Intensive Services as clinical director of residential treatment/therapist; Grace Hospice as a medical social worker — clinical therapist; PsyCare as Integrative Family Systems Treatment therapist; Prime Healthcare as a medical social worker — PRN; and Ohio Department of Job and Family Services as Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program specialist.

“I have a very diverse background, and my social work experience gave me quite a few contacts in Mahoning County,” Young said. “I thought the library would be a perfect fit for me. I see my principal role as acting as a link between our patrons and the community resources they may not know about.”

Young has two licensed therapy dogs, Katie and Kirby, both Labradors.

“I started researching therapy dogs when I was in grad school at Youngstown State University. I knew the benefits of people having service animals, and I thought it would be unique to provide that type of intense therapy using dogs,” Young said. “It is a relatively new field but is growing in popularity because of the immense benefits.” Patrons who would like to talk with Young can call the library at 330-744-8636 or talk with a librarian, who will connect them.

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