Pathfinder Lucy Chiem: Dedicated to Service and the Community of People with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities (INSIDERS Part 2 of 3)

Pathfinder is a series of blogs about intrepid library staff who are leading interesting programs that you may not yet know about.  This is part 2 of 3 parts that explore INSIDERS programmers and what they do!

Librarian Lucy Chiem has always pursued opportunities to be of service to the community.

Lucy's interest in community service began at a young age.  As a teenager, Lucy sought a volunteering position in a children's hospital, where she hoped to help others with needs greater than her own.

At the hospital, Lucy was approached by an occupational therapist to help with a karate program.  Lucy's martial arts experience gave her the opportunity to teach children and teens with special needs her invaluable skills.

The occupational therapist's goals for the karate program included enhancing:

  • focus
  • strength and flexibility
  • confidence
  • fitness
  • gross motor skills
  • sensory processing
  • social skills

Community work inspires Lucy.  Let's find out how!

Lucy's Inspiration

Lucy says that "innovative, inclusive and accessible programs resonated" with her.  The karate program and an internship with San Francisco Public Library’s Jail and Reentry Services (JARS) program taught her, "the creative ways of providing therapy and adapting services for those with differing abilities and needs."

According to San Francisco Public Library's site:

"Since 2018, SFPL's Jail and Reentry Services program has been providing dedicated library service to incarcerated adults. Through a partnership with the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office, JARS offers in-jail library service. JARS librarians also provide reference by mail and reentry support, and have been serving youth at the Juvenile Justice Center for almost 20 years."

The JARS program provides access to incarcerated individuals who might not otherwise be able to use the public library.

Meeting the needs of communities that may have difficulty with accessing library services is a unique opportunity for library staff like Lucy.

People with intellectual developmental disabilities (IDD) may not feel that libraries are particularly welcoming or accessible.  The Library's Equity and Inclusion Department seeks to resolve these issues.

Lucy is inspired by programs like the Karate Program or JARS that meet specific community needs.  Starting at Educational Park Branch in February 2022, Lucy observed that the INSIDERS program had not yet been restarted after being shut down during the pandemic.  The pre-pandemic iteration of INSIDERS was clearly popular with local day programs.  She tells me,

"Without a doubt, I was excited to get to know our groups, learn their interests, and continue to develop a program that will allow those in our I/DD community to enjoy and participate in activities at the library. It is a place where they can engage in free quality programs and have fun."

Lucy Meets Community Needs at Educational Park Branch

Lucy manages a very popular program at Educational Park Branch.

Her goals for the program are to:

  • empower participants
  • community representation
  • provide opportunities for fun, learning, and creating meaningful experiences with others

Lucy tells me that she seeks to meet these goals by offering "participants a variety of activities and learning opportunities that are both educational and fun, something new to look forward to every month."

Here are some examples of programs that she has offered:

  • performers that do magic and comedy
  • musicians
  • guest speakers that talk about health & wellness
  • local environment and safety
  • game days
  • hands-on arts and craft activities

Enriching the lives of INSIDERS participants is the overarching goal.  Lucy tells me,

"There are so many reasons why I think the INSIDERS program is so great. It provides additional opportunities for participants to engage in activities that they might not have access to already, meet new friends, and for groups to network and share information. The program brings a sense of community and engages different interests and abilities."

The Details

According to the website,

Join us for socializing, finding new friends, networking, making jokes, crafting, having fun with art and much more. INSIDERS programs are geared towards teens and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Caregivers are welcomed to join.

Free, registration required.

Lucy Chiem's INSIDERS programs occur as follows:

  • WHEN:  May 21, 2023 or the third Tuesday of each month
  • WHEN:  From 10:30 - 11:30 AM
  • WHERE:  Educational Park Branch's Community Room

Let me know if you have any questions!