News Flash

Randolph County News

Posted on: September 18, 2023

Community Navigators Win Civic Excellence in Innovation Award



 A group of people posing for a photoDescription automatically generatedRANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C., September 6, 2023 – The Randolph County Public Library Community Navigator program has received a 2023 Civic Excellence in Innovation Award from the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC).

The award is one of 10 presented annually to successful programs around the state that demonstrate innovative solutions and cost/resource savings for counties. The award comes with a $1,000 cash prize that goes to the county government.

The Navigator program places two social workers in library branches countywide to help people with human services needs. The goal is to prevent individuals and families from sliding into deeper levels of dependency or intervention, such as by Social Services or law enforcement.

The navigators – veteran social workers Angi Polito and Dana Nance – receive clients who walk into libraries, are referred by library staff, are referred by other agencies/organizations, or otherwise learn about the program. Since the program’s inception in February 2022, the navigators have engaged with 810 clients.

The navigators have become integral to the human services safety net in Randolph County, receiving an average of two new clients each working day and collaborating with some 120 community agencies, organizations, professionals, and individuals to receive and refer clients.

“The number of community contacts demonstrates how multiple agencies can have a piece of someone’s puzzle, and how hard it can be for the average person – and for other organizations acting on behalf of clients – to navigate a maze of agencies to find help, and how valuable it is to have our navigators develop this expertise,” says Library Director Ross Holt.

Social workers providing services through public libraries is becoming a national trend. People view their public libraries as safe spaces and often turn to them in times of need.

The navigators have office hours at each of the seven library branches in the county. They assess client needs and match clients with resources in the community and the region or provide direct assistance. They act as caseworkers, following through to ensure that clients connect with resources and receive help, mediating with other agencies when necessary.

Liberty Library manager Brenda Hornsby-Heindl says, “The work of the Community Navigators has made an impact in our community – a small but powerful stone in a pond that is creating great ripples of change.”

The Navigator initiative originated when County Commissioners sought proposals from the community for American Rescue Plan Act funding. Randolph Partnership for Children Executive Director Lisa Hayworth broached the idea of placing social workers in the library to Library Director Ross Holt. The two engaged with Randolph County Social Service Director Tracie Murphy and Randolph County Public Health Director Tara Aker to develop the program. Commissioners funded it using the money from the county’s Strategic Planning Reserve. Navigators Angi Polito and Dana Nance were hired and have built the program into the success it is today. 

If you or anyone you know needs a Navigator’s assistance, call 336-318-6825 or visit your local library.

PHOTO: Community Navigator Angi Polito (center) displays the Civic Excellence in Innovation Award presented at the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners annual conference in Raleigh on August 24. Accompanying her are Randolph County Board of Commissioners Chairman Darrell Frye, Library Director Ross Holt, Community Navigator Dana Nance, Commissioner Hope Haywood, Randolph County Strategic Programs Coordinator Leah Gearhart, and Commissioner David Allen.


ABOUT RANDOLPH COUNTY GOVERNMENT: Randolph County Government exists to elevate the everyday lives of citizens through providing quality, essential services. Services areas include; general government, public safety, economic and physical development, environmental protection, human services, and cultural and recreational services. Randolph County was ranked 18th on the 2021 Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America list by Healthiest Employers®. For more information on Randolph County Government visit, For regular updates, follow Randolph County Government on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn


Contact: Ross Holt, Library Director 

Randolph County Public Libraries

(336) 318-6806


Facebook Twitter Email

Other News in Randolph County News