Pickerington Public Library: Expo to link residents to more than 40 resources

Nate Ellis
ThisWeek group

The Pickerington Public Library will seek to link residents to everything from food and job assistance to mentorships and opportunities to give back during its inaugural Community Resources Expo. 

On June 9, the library will host representatives from more than 40 service organizations, government agencies, religious organizations and other nonprofits during the expo, which is scheduled for 3 to 7 p.m. at the Main Branch, 201 Opportunity Way. 

It's part of the library's ongoing mission to connect people to services and information, an effort that's taken on renewed significance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said library director Tony Howard. 

Tony Howard

"We know that the pandemic has changed many habits among library users and non-users," Howard said. "Our annual goals this year have us focused on three areas: retain, regain and recover.

"This year, we are looking at our business model in order to retain the customers who have continued to use the library during the pandemic. We are making adjustments in our business model to regain customers lost due to changing habits. Finally, we are looking for opportunities to help the community recover from the pandemic through partnerships and outreach." 

The full roster of expo participants, as well as additional information about the event, is available at pickeringtonlibrary.libnet.info/event/5061593. The lineup includes Fairfield County Job & Family Services, Fairfield County Job Corps, Fairfield County Parks and Recreation, Meals on Wheels, Ohio Means Jobs, the Pickerington Food Pantry and United Way of Fairfield County. 

Andrea Spires, community-impact director for United Way of Fairfield County, said her organization is taking part to inform residents of programs and services it offers, including those geared to helping people file taxes, receive food assistance and develop literacy skills. 

"We want to make sure people know we serve all of Fairfield County," Spires said. "We have 24 agencies we partner with, including the Pickerington Food Pantry and Project WISE, a mentorship program with (Ridgeview STEM Junior High School) to help give kids guidance and support.

"We also want to let people know how they can work with us and give back to the community."

Another agency that will participate in the expo is Lancaster Transit, which offers public transit throughout Fairfield County, including Pickerington. 

Carrie Woody, Lancaster Transit director, said the pandemic and social distancing resulted in a decrease in ridership, from 129,764 in 2019 to 89,357 in 2020. 

But she said numbers have started to rise over the past three months, and she wants to make sure people in Pickerington know about local and regional routes. 

"Even though we're a city of Lancaster department, we run transportation for the whole county," Woody said. "We offer a deviated, fixed route that runs Monday through Thursday in Pickerington and Violet Township, and we offer a call-ahead, door-to-door service where people can call us at least a day ahead of time to receive a shared ride anywhere in Fairfield County." 

Woody said she also hopes to spread awareness about Lancaster Transit services that provide transportation to areas in and around Rickenbacker International Airport. Those routes, she said, can link to buses that travel throughout the city of Columbus and up and down the U.S. Route 33 corridor.

Additionally, Woody said, Lancaster Transit will be recruiting drivers during the expo. 

"We are actually hoping to attract at least one to two drivers," she said. "If we are able to attract additional drivers, we would be able to expand our services." 

The expo is free to the pubic, will be held outside the library's Main Branch and will feature several local food trucks. 

Library officials said they're particularly excited because it will be an opportunity for library patrons and other residents to meet in person with representatives to learn more about job and business opportunities, family resources, agency benefits and community volunteerism.

“We are thrilled to have so many agencies and organizations participating,” said Jennifer Hrusch, the library's information and research manager. “It’s clear people are not only in need of services, but those services (also) are ready to connect with them in person.”  

Howard called the expo a one-stop-shopping event for community resources.

"The expo will feature many local city, township, area and county organizations and agencies," he said. "It is not often they converge in one location all together outside of Lancaster, the county seat.

"The organizations at this event want to help the citizens of Violet Township and Pickerington. What better way than to bring them all together in one place at the same time? This is an opportunity for people to not only learn about the resources available to them but also to learn about volunteer opportunities available."

nellis@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNate