Dedicating her life to helping people, Molly Miskiewicz, a licensed master social worker at the Baldwin Public Library and therapist for the private online practice Valera Health, is helping the Baldwin public one person at a time.
Miskiewicz starts her day with a long walk with her two 2-year-old dogs, Chewie and Troper, one a Schnoodle and the other a Shorkie. Drinking her coffee while looking over her emails, Miskiewicz can expect anywhere from 10 to 30 a day from people in need. “I feel like I’m glued to my email sometimes, but it’s all good,” she said.
Sharing a similar call to serve the public, Miskiewicz and the Baldwin Public Library both offer services to help and inform the public. “[It’s] truly incredible how many people utilize the library, of course for books, learning and information gathering, but for so much more than that,” she said.
Being a library social worker has new and complex challenges compared to being a regular social worker, she said. “Library social work [is a] very, very new field…Talking to other social workers, they’ll get perplexed.” But, she said, seeing a problem and meeting a person’s need “is a wonderful feeling.”
The experiences she has had working at the library for two years has helped her expand in different areas of social work, she said, noting, “People come in with all sorts of problems, so I have to navigate [them] all…There is always something to learn.” Services include food and housing aid applications, job and career counseling, physical health, mental health, family issues, volunteer and community-service opportunities.
One of the satisfying aspects of the job, Miskiewicz said, is seeing how people’s lives are changed by the services that are offered. She recently found housing for patrons, and she could see the transformation they underwent, going from a “pretty low point in their life” to “one where they do have a place to come home at night.”
Being an online therapist, Miskiewicz has three areas of specialty in complex trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, LGBTQ issues and personality disorders. “Where PTSD is traditionally thought of as one single incident trauma, like a car accident or assault… complex trauma is trauma that is more prolonged…Sometimes people don’t realize why they’re doing things,” she explained.
When she’s not at the library, she’s researching and assisting at various non-profits and organizations. One example is the Bronx non-profit I'Raise, where she provides social and community support and evaluates social programs that help young people with their wellbeing and mental health.
Speaking humbly about the different outlets of her work outside the library, Miskiewicz said “it doesn’t feel overwhelming. Things vary so much and the type of work varies.”
The mental aspect of social work and therapy can be taxing for many, but Miskiewicz navigates by “self-care and boundaries and setting myself up mentally to prepare…Feeling overwhelmed is a human thing that everyone experiences. My dogs are everything, and I have a great support system that are all within the world of helping people.”
Her advice to anyone who may be lacking a support system, especially around the holidays, is to find an activity that works for you. “There is always something out there for everyone,” she said. “Sometimes it takes a bit of take time to figure out what works for you.”