NEW: Empathy Driven Approach to Solving Problems, Preventing Conflict, and Serving Everybody

Westchester Library System (WLS) is collaborating with the Homeless Training Institute to bring together public service colleagues to explore an approach to strengthening service delivery based on the experiences of Ryan Dowd, Executive Director of the Hesed House shelter in Illinois and founder of the Institute.

Homeless Training Institute

WLS has purchased a year-long license to the Institute’s video-based training course on working with the homeless (3 hours total). This license is for use by member library staff. The training approach, empathy-driven problem solving, goes beyond relevance solely to homeless services and can extend to all public service. The training videos provide a foundation on understanding the unique circumstances and challenges of homelessness; an exploration of punishment-based and empathy-based approaches to rules enforcement; and demonstrations of strategies you can employ when working in public service.

Training Registration: 

Member library staff will be able to register after July 11. For more information, contact Krishna Horrigan at

  • Resilience Coalition partners and non-library organizations interested in this training should contact

Group Viewings and Guest Speakers at WLS

There are three upcoming group viewing events:
June 13th, 2pm to 4:30pm
June 27th, 2pm to 4:30pm
July 11th, 2pm to 4:30pm

Register on evanced:

Each viewing session will cover an hour of the training, with an additional brief presentation by county experts to fuel the group discussion. First up (June 13) is Karl Bertrand, a noted consultant to County organizations on housing and homelessness. Karl started Yonkers’ first homeless shelter and continues to work with agencies across sectors to improve services. His experiences provide a valuable framework for our understanding of homelessness in Westchester County.

On June 27, we will be joined by Cynthia Knox, Executive Director of the Jan Peek House, the only year round 24 hour shelter for homeless adults in Northern Westchester County. Cynthia will share perspective on the challenges facing shelters today and the support needed by her clients (our patrons).

We encourage you to sign up for more than one of the group sessions!

Borrow the book from your library

Our member libraries have 5 copies of Ryan Dowd’s book: The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness: An Empathy-Driven Approach to Solving Problems, Preventing Conflict, and Serving Everyone

More resources (slides, articles, handouts)

Karl Bertrand’s Presentation: Poverty, Homelessness, and Powerlessness in Westchester and Their Connection to Trauma

Public Library Association – Resources for serving persons experiencing homelessness

Aging in the Homeless Shelter System