As the lead anti-poverty, 501(c)3 non-profit organization in Bucks County, last year BCOC helped 17,327 people, representing 6,988 households, through its five programs that include emergency services, the Economic Self-Sufficiency Program, food distribution, weatherization, and VITA income tax assistance.
BCOC is the designated Community Action Agency for Bucks County, and is part of a national network of over 1,000 agencies dedicated to ending poverty by connecting people with the resources to thrive.
It serves low income families in Bucks County by helping them to stabilize when in crisis, garner resources to achieve a livable wage, gain additional education and training, and work towards economic self-sufficiency.
BCOC hears from people in crisis every day – who are often just one paycheck away from homelessness.
The goal of Emergency Services is to stabilize the emergency, maximize self-sufficiency, and limit or eliminate any future need for assistance. Emergency services teams work to help these neighbors in need because once a family loses their home, it is a downward spiral that is very difficult to stop.
Often clients are facing homelessness because the rent, utility or another bill is due. They may be hungry or have a big car repair that prevents them from getting to work.
In addition to financial assistance, clients receive assessment and case management services.
Last year, through emergency services, a total of 1,030 people were prevented from evictions; 244 homeless people were permanently housed, and an additional 1,619 households received housing coaching. BCOC helped 657 people maintain utility services.
Over 1.9 million pounds of food were distributed county-wide last year through over 60 public and private partnerships.
Once a crisis is averted, clients are encouraged to join BCOC’s Economic Self-Sufficiency Program (ES), meet with a coach, and create an action plan to attain additional education and training to secure a job that pays a living wage.
Participants acquire the education, skills and employment to permanently leave poverty as opposed to merely coping in it.
The ES Program has gained national recognition for its approach and success in tackling chronic poverty at its roots. For every dollar spent supporting clients in the ES program, $4.60 is saved in government subsidies.
To date, 330 families have graduated from the ES Program, representing 933 people. They no longer rely on any government assistance. They are tax-paying members of the Bucks community and money earned stays mostly in Bucks County.
For more information on services, or to learn about volunteer opportunities, visit www.bcoc.org.
PHOTO CAP: It was a day of celebration when the Bucks County Opportunity Council opened its new Opportunity Center at 721 Veterans Highway in Bristol, tripling the space of its previous site and enabling BCOC to expand its services in Lower Bucks. Among those present were Jon Rubin, Deputy Secretary, PA Department of Human Services, Office of Children, Youth and Families; Erin Lukoss, CEO/Executive Director of BCOC; Minesh Pathak, Executive Director of the Lower Bucks Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Tobi Bruhn, Chair, BCOC Board and Vice President of Advancement, Bucks County Community College; Holly Kennedy, BCOC client; Jim Bray, Chair, Doyle Development Corp.; and Doug Hogland, Pastor of Woodside Church.