Bucks County Shelter Staff, Others Work to Help the Homeless Become Self-Sufficient

October 30, 2014 | Bucks County Courier Times

Staff at the Bucks County Emergency Homeless Shelter works to make residency there fleeting — nobody wants to see or be a repeat customer.

So when a client moves into the facility, he or she is assigned a departure date that is usually 60 days away. Then staff members work intensively to help the residents solve what shelter coordinator Kari Howatt calls the number-one need: “a roof over their head.”

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Suicide is On the Rise in Pennsylvania – Join the Prevention Efforts

October 28, 2014 | Family Service Press Release

Suicide is a public health problem that has lasting harmful impacts on individuals, families and communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 25 to 34 years. In addition, suicide is on the rise in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Department of Health reports that the death rate for suicides has increased in four out of the last five years reported.

For every person who dies by suicide, there are many more who think about, plan or attempt suicide. Fortunately, suicide is preventable. With the increase in reports of suicide in our community, the need for trained volunteers also increases. You can help prevent suicide by becoming a CONTACT Helpline volunteer.

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Buck Up Bucks County: One Man’s Journey From Homeless to Home

October 26, 2014 | Bucks County Courier Times

This man who came in from the cold reaches across the rumpled blanket on his bed and plugs in a metal pole lamp to rid his room of the cloak of darkness. The light doesn’t go on. He fiddles with the bulb, as if coaxing the tardy sun to awaken near daybreak, but it doesn’t oblige. He keeps at it, rattling the pole. Nothing. He keeps at it, shaking the cord. Still nothing.

James is 58 years old. The mussed graying hair of this doughy man mirrors the ominous sky. He exhales a sigh of frustration. He shimmies off his bed and walks toward a wall switch that operates a ceiling light on the other side of the room. He flips the switch. He keeps trying, and then his world becomes brighter.

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Buck up Bucks County: Local Shelter Needs Help for Bathroom Renovations

October 24, 2014 | Bucks County Courier Times

Imagine having to wait in line to bathe your infant, or even worse, being forced to wait until the next day because the line for the bathroom is too long.

This is the reality families face daily at the Bucks County Emergency Homeless Shelter in Bristol Township.

“We only have two, actually, bathtubs on the women’s side of the dorm,” shelter coordinator Kari Howatt said. “At any given time, we have 25 to 30 children under the age of 18 living at the shelter, so you can imagine a mother with an infant needing to bathe her children and she either has to wait for a bathtub or she just doesn’t get to bathe her child that night.”

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Buck Up Bucks County: Advocates Need New Bus for Looming Code Blue Season

October 23, 2014 | Bucks County Courier Times

The first winter she lived in her car was the scariest experience of her life, Kim said.

“I had no one to talk to. I’m in a frozen car. I have all these blankets, and then the snow kept covering my car,” the 59-year-old Bucks County woman said. “At one point, I thought I was going to die because I woke up and the whole car was covered.”

That was eight winters ago — well before Bucks County enacted its Code Blue emergency shelter program in 2009.

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Current Bus for Bucks’ Needy Not Wheelchair Accessible

October 19, 2014 | Bucks County Courier Times

Her hard life travels on rutted roads. Along the berm are challenging signs: depression, asthma, low blood pressure, high cholesterol and three degenerative discs. She’s been in a wheelchair for 15 years, and over the past 14, has undergone an unfathomable 20 surgeries on her right leg, including two knee replacements and the removal of all of her toes due to diabetes.

This woman has been beset by one life-altering event after another on this hard road from which there seems to be no exit.


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Bucks County Shelter Bus Changes Lives, One Ride at a Time

October 17, 2014 | Bucks County Courier Times

Delilah has collected a lot of miles in her 12 years on the road.

That’s no surprise, since the old gal shuttles dozens of Lower Bucks people who are homeless and otherwise in need to shared meals most nights. During the winter, the 13-seat passenger van can make two or three trips every night.

And once a month, the vehicle named Delilah by the folks who rely on it, picks up a dozen or more for a shower, haircut and lunch. For people like Jeff — a 56-year-old Bucks native who calls the woods of Bristol Township home — this monthly “rejuvenation station” visit is a chance for a fresh start.

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Buck Up Bucks County: Dinner for 70

October 16, 2014 | Bucks County Courier Times

Residents of the Bucks County Emergency Homeless Shelter will sometimes ask kitchen manager Jim Kolowajtis to whip up something they like, such as potato salad. Whether shelter clients see that on their plates depends on whether someone has donated the potatoes, mayonnaise and other ingredients.

But Kolowajtis, who prepares three meals and a daily snack for about 70 people, is adept at making use of what’s on the shelves. “If I have it, I’ll make it,” he said.

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The Path to Somewhere

October 12, 2014 | Bucks County Courier Times

The trail quickly morphs from weathered gravel into beaten dirt and grass, a gateway deep into the woods somewhere in Bristol Township on this mild October morning. The path is bracketed by willowy trees, whose branches bend gently to greet you, and sunlight winks through their leaves quivering in the breeze. The footing is as uneven and uncertain as the lives of the needy folks who reside in its shadow.

There’s a clearing up ahead, then a right turn, and there it is. From this perch on the path to nowhere, one peeks through figurative blinds to see where homelessness hides from the world.

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Newtown Financial Adviser Issues Buck Up Bucks Challenge

October 10, 2014 | Bucks County Courier Times

Newtown financial adviser Anthony Petsis is once again challenging fellow business owners to step up to help the homeless in Bucks County.

Petsis said he’ll match up to $250 in donations that are dropped into the Buck Up Bucks County canister at his offices on State Street.

The Buck Up Bucks County fundraiser aims to raise $200,000 to buy a new bus for Advocates for Homeless & Those in Need and to renovate bathrooms at the Bucks County Emergency Homeless Shelter.

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