When fourteen Doylestown women gathered one Spring evening in 1895, they could not have imagined the far-reaching impact their discussion would have on the community. From an initial focus on respiratory health concerns arising from dust on local streets, their mission quickly grew to “enhancing the welfare of Central Bucks County and surrounding communities.”
126 years later, the Village Improvement Association of Doylestown (VIA) continues to evolve. Today the group governs Doylestown Health, an award-winning healthcare system, as the only women’s organization in the country to have such a role.
The Bucks County Designer House & Gardens is the organization’s largest fundraising event. 30% of the profits are allocated to the initial mission of the VIA, while 70% are for Doylestown Health System projects such as the Women’s Diagnostic Center, the 2021 beneficiary.
When the initial Designer House event was held in 1971, VIA members ironed curtains and painted walls. Today, Designer House Committee members work with premier area designers and landscapers to magically transform a historic property and its grounds in just a few short weeks.
In a departure from recent years, the 2022 Bucks County Designer House & Gardens event will be held in the fall. There are still many opportunities to become involved.
Other VIA committees provide grants to community non-profit organizations, award scholarships and address the needs of veterans, to name just a few. The group’s strong community connection allows it to respond to emerging needs: a recent focus has been the development of programs to assist babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.
Current VIA membership is about 260 women. New members are always welcome. Monthly general membership meetings, with varied programs and invited speakers, are held from October through June. Community members are invited to attend as guests. Many meetings have been held virtually during the pandemic, but the organization hopes that a return to more in-person gatherings will soon be possible.
To learn more, please visit www.via-Doylestown.org.
PHOTO CAP: VIA members ( l. to r.) Whitney Chandor, Joyce A. Hanson and Sara Moyer present a check with the proceeds of the 2021 Designer House to Doylestown Health CEO, Jim Brexler.