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Vita Education Services celebrates 50 years


Vita Education Services is planning its 50th anniversary as a nonprofit organization and hopes to celebrate the milestone in 2022.
Vita has provided free educational programs for underserved adults in the Bucks County area since 1971 when Judge Edmund V. Ludwig from the Court of Common Pleas dedicated a group of volunteers to help young adults on probation and parole break patterns of recidivism. They noticed many participants had limited literacy skills, and with no adult basic education services available in the county, a need for an agency like Vita was recognized.
Today, the organization offers literacy programs to prepare students to pass the GED and ESL classes to increase English proficiency; decision programs to support the Correctional Facility and Community Corrections Center; and workplace programs for improving workplace literacy. Vita will continue to offer online classes when in-person classes resume because they have shown to be more accessible to many students.
“We continue evolving and growing,” said Executive Director Mercedes Anderson. “As the needs change, we change. That is how things have progressed over the past 50 years.
At the 50th anniversary, Vita hopes to highlight an audio series posted on their website named Vita Voices. The project includes videos of students, teachers, tutors and staff who share how Vita has been a part of their lives as told through their own voices. Vita wants Bucks County residents to learn about what the organization does and to hear the remarkable stories of its students.
“We want to show the community the value of helping these people,” Anderson said. “Once they have improved skills the students can either keep their jobs or get better employment that allows them to contribute more to the community.”

Vita also hopes people who attend the anniversary will feel compelled to become donors or volunteers. The organization is funded for 500 students by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, but the funding doesn’t cover all the necessary expenses to run the free programs. Anderson hopes attendees will say “‘This is a cause that we can get behind.’”
“We’re not necessarily one of the best-known nonprofits in the area, but when people do learn about us they understand how important our work is,” she added.
In addition to the work of staff and volunteers, Anderson said the organization’s continual growth over five decades is a tribute to the persistence and courage of Vita students.
“We have students who are just amazing. They go out to work all day long, they leave their job, go home and feed their families, they come to class, and they go back home again,” Anderson said. “They have to clean off that kitchen table and that’s when they sit down and start doing their homework.”
“Our job is not just to convey information but to keep the faith for our students because so often many of the students who come to us have been discouraged about their own intellectual or academic abilities,” she added.