The Village Improvement Association (VIA) of Doylestown has announces the launch of its Neighbors in Need NOW campaign. With the delay until fall of the VIA’s major fundraiser, the Bucks County Designer House & Gardens, the organization needs help now.
Rising food, housing and utility costs are taking a toll on vulnerable children and families. The seemingly never ending COVID-19 pandemic has swelled the ranks of those in need and made things more difficult for families already struggling before the pandemic. With rising inflation, labor shortages and supply chain issues, everything costs more.
Top that off with the end of the eviction moratorium and a reduction in federal monetary support, and it is clear why some of our neighbors desperately need immediate help now.
Since 1895, decades before the United States implemented the first government-funded welfare systems, Doylestown’s Village Improvement Association has been looking after the health and welfare of local families. While the VIA continues to provide a critical safety net, much has changed in the past 127 years, and increased community involvement is essential.
Despite our relative affluence, there is a hidden, but sizable, at-risk population, including an estimated 800 homeless school children right here in Bucks County. Over the past three years, the number of homeless youth nationally has jumped from 2.8 to about 4 million. Some are living in cars, outdoors in tents, in emergency shelters, in transitional housing, or “couch surfing,” moving from place to place.
For struggling families, fortunate enough to be living in a house or apartment, skyrocketing heating fuel costs plus rising food and gasoline prices take a large chunk out of their limited income and their security. According to Frank Gallagher, president of Doylestown Area FISH, “The minimum number of gallons of heating oil that companies will deliver is 150 gallons. Last year that would have cost $325 but this year it is $473, an increase of more than 45%.” That’s just the increase in fuel oil costs.
Always concerned about the health and wellbeing of Bucks County youth, the VIA supports the Valley Youth House/Synergy Project’s goal of “reducing the harm of homelessness and stopping human trafficking,” which often goes hand-in-hand with homelessness. Outreach staff like Robert (Woody) Wood provide homeless at-risk youth with food, clothing, hygiene supplies, counseling and access to resources. “Statistically, 35% of youth are homeless because of a lack of support,” explains Woody, “only 9% because of drugs.”
From mid-2020 to 2021, in the midst of COVID-19, in addition to Doylestown Area FISH and the Valley Youth House/Synergy Project, the VIA partnered with other organizations to provide funds for heating fuel, housing support, and food.