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Human Interest - Bensalem Township

Commissioner Harvie, Non-profit official Represent Bucks County at White House

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Commissioner Chair Bob Harvie headed to Washington, D.C., last week to represent Bucks County during the White House’s “Communities in Action: Building a Better Pennsylvania” event.  

The event highlighted the Biden-Harris Administration’s impact in our community and throughout Pennsylvania with the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

“I am honored to be invited to the White House to discuss the ways the Biden-Harris administration has helped Bucks Countians and people all across Pennsylvania, through their unprecedented investments in infrastructure, the environment and economic recovery” Commissioner Harvie said.

Harvie and United Way of Bucks County Impact Director for Financial Stability P.J. O’Brien went to the White House last week to talk about the exciting and important work being done in our communities thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act and other legislation

At a time when it was most needed, Bucks County has been the beneficiary of over $122 million in ARPA funds that have gone to key projects that directly and immediately address the lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commissioner Harvie continued, “Through President Biden’s leadership, we are putting people back to work, giving small businesses a helping hand, keeping families in their homes, launching critical infrastructure projects, and providing aid to our most vulnerable through human service grants.”

Some highlights of how Bucks County has, and continues to use the $122 million in ARPA funds include:

Bucks Emergency Rental Assistance (BERA) Program – $14.8 million (spent $8.7 million)

•    Distributed millions in assistance to more than 2,600 households using federal funds to help residents pay rent, utilities, arears, and avoid eviction.

Business grants – $4.8 million

•    Provided financial assistance to 785 businesses across the county that were struggling with the economic fallout of the pandemic and shutdowns.

Human Services Grants – $5 million

•    Shored up key elements of mental health system, enhanced community services

•    $390,000 to No Longer Bound to build educational programming at the Martha Miller Education Center in Bristol Township, with a focus on developing interpersonal skills and healing from trauma and adversity.

•    $460,000 to St. Luke’s Penn Foundation to fund programs for kids with mental health issues and family history of substance abuse.

•    $197,000 to Bucks County Opportunity Council’s food pantry, which aims to meet rising demand by increasing output 20 percent over two years.

Bucks United Flood Recovery Program – $1.5 million

•    Helped residents affected by summer 2021 flooding in Croydon (non-Ida related flooding) with renovation and mold remediation.

Emergency Operations Center expansion – $300K for tech upgrades

•    Modernizing emergency management hub to improve response to future disasters, pandemics and other incidents.

Co-responders Program – $240,000

•    Expanded cutting edge program pairing police and social workers into additional Lower Bucks communities after success of pilot in Bensalem.

Bucks County Community College Veterans Program – $200,000

•    BCCC Returning Veteran’s Adult Education Support Program

One possible future allocation of ARPA funds is the complete overhaul of the Lower Bucks Government Services Center. Planning for the project is well underway, with the county already working with an architect chosen by the Board of Commissioners.

The planned facility would greatly increase access to county government services for residents in some of the county’s most densely populated areas, where in-person services have long been limited.

“When the new Lower Bucks Government Service Center opens,” said Harvie, “We’ll be able to provide expanded services to residents more efficiently and conveniently.”

 

E-mail Jeff.Bohen17@Gmail.com for your price and package quote

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Health - Bensalem Township

THE Giant Co. & Customers Raise More Than $400,000 For Healing Our Planet Initiatives

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Through its Healing Our Planet initiative, The GIANT Company today announced it raised $403,360 in partnership with its customers to support Planet Bee Foundation™ and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful™. During the month of May, customers at GIANT, MARTIN’S and GIANT Heirloom Market stores were invited to round up their grocery purchases to the nearest dollar to support each organization.

“Action inspires action and small changes such as tree plantings and pollinator awareness can make a big difference when it comes to helping our planet, so thank you to our customers who rounded up at the register to support these green initiatives,” said Courtney Hopcraft, manager of charitable giving and community relations, The GIANT Company. “Over the four years of our Healing the Planet campaign, more than $6 million has been raised to grow health and sustainability initiatives centric to creating healthier communities and a more sustainable future.”

Announced earlier this month, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful in partnership with The GIANT Company announced it will award Healing the Planet grants later this summer to local community organizations for tree plantings across Pennsylvania. Additional funding from The GIANT Company will support Pick Up Pennsylvania and local clean up, recycling and greening events.

“Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful is grateful to The GIANT Company for their support of native tree planting in their operating areas in Pennsylvania. Funding will also support our Pick Up Pennsylvania program, so we can continue to meet the needs of families, friends, neighbors, civic groups, nonprofits and municipalities working towards a clean and beautiful Pennsylvania,” said Shannon Reiter, president, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful. “Cleaning and beautifying communities tends to reduce littering and other illegal behaviors, making it a better place for all residents and providing a foundation for community and economic development.”

Credit: Submitted

Planet Bee Foundation drives awareness for pollinators and the importance of bees as a pathway to STEM, conservation, and innovations in agriculture. Funding raised by The GIANT Company will support local beekeepers, research programs, and school and community programs.

“On behalf of Planet Bee Foundation, I wish to extend our deepest gratitude to The GIANT Company for their donation, which has educated and impacted over 109,000 youth. Their generosity has sponsored STEM and Agriculture Education programs in schools, provided supplies to teachers, offered grants to local beekeepers, provided education at public events, and maintained beehives in community gardens, exemplifying their commitment to local communities,” said Debra Tomaszewski, founder and executive director, Planet Bee Foundation. “We are humbled and inspired by The GIANT Company’s commitment to sustainability, the health of our planet, and the well-being of the families they serve.”

For more information on The GIANT Company’s Healing Our Planet initiative, click here please.

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Health - Bensalem Township

“Laughter is the Best Medicine” Says President of Ezra’s Hope

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Cindy Ritter, president of Ezra’s Hope was on her cell phone early Friday morning teaching herself an array of foreign languages. When she answered. which was not expected since it was just past 7 a.m., an approximately hour-long conversation ensued.

The conversation was about the dual sponsored – Laughs for Recovery and Raymour & Flanigan – afternoon sit-down comedy benefit coming up this Saturday, June 22, to support the nonprofit that assists families looking the pain of addiction square in the face.

What better way to raise funds  then with the antidote for pain, which is laughter, right?, she said.

No arguing with that sentiment.

Ezra’s Hope helps families that have been affected by addiction in a variety of ways, including food and clothing donations and financial assistance. In past efforts, the nonprofit has provided care packages and gift cards, food, clothing, furniture, and other necessities, and has helped families pay utility bills. “By helping families pick up the pieces from this terrible disease in a positive light, we hope to prevent the same behavior from continuing,” Ritter said.

According to the CDC, more than 110,000 people across the United States lost their lives to drug overdoses in 2023. Of that number, 4,823 were in Pennsylvania.

Ritter said that a lack of manpower and resources in recent years has prevented the nonprofit from hosting any fundraising events.

Ezra’s Hope is holding their first fundraiser since the pandemic. The small volunteer organization is teaming up with two well-known organizations, Laughs For Recovery and Raymour and Flanigan, to host a three-hour comedy show for charity. The nonprofit hopes the event will bring smiles and laughter to the community while also raising awareness to a topic, that’s no laughing matter, addiction.

“Help has been pretty hard to find. The last time Ezra’s Hope held a fundraiser was in September 2019 before Covid-19 shut the world down. Since then, we have been unable to organize any events to help raise the funds necessary to help families in need,” Ritter said.

 

The sit-down comedy show will take place from 2 p.m.to 5 p.m. pm at Raymour and Flannigan’s Oxford Valley location 9 Cabot Blvd East, Langhorne and will feature performances by a number of local comedians.

Several prominent businesses are also showing their support for Ezra’s Hope. The Iron Pigs. Crayola. Longwood Gardens and Chipotle have all made substantial donations to be used for raffles and giveaways during the event, giving some lucky guests a chance to go home with an unforgettable prize.

Master of Ceremonies and Laughs for Recovery founder Eric Todd of Levittown is hoping the surrounding community comes out in a big way, he said. Todd’s been putting on comedy shows for about three years now.

Laughs for Recovery Outdoor Festival 2023

 

Ezra’s Hope was founded in 2017 as an outlet to offer support and education to families that have experienced the loss of a loved one to addiction. The organization is dedicated to raising awareness through education about addiction and making a difference in the lives of those who have felt the impact of its devastating effects. There is Hope for the future!

Click here to purchase tickets for this event.

For more information about Ezra’s Hope, contact Cindy Ritter ezrashope@gmail.com

Submitted:

Laughs for Recovery Comic performing Summer of 2023
Credit: Lower Bucks Source

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Human Interest - Bensalem Township

Neshaminy Mall Sold?

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The announcement came as a bit of surprise, but for months if not longer, there were varying reports Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem was for sale. As of last week, the mall now has a buyer.

A social media post by the Bensalem Economic Development Corporation read, “Hot off the presses! Neshaminy Mall has a buyer! Settlement will occur sometime in the next 30 days with Paramount Realty. We look forward to working with their team and hearing about the new opportunities this sale will bring to our community,” on June 14.

Brookfield Properties put the mall up for sale, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, in February.

The 1-million square foot mall sits at the crossroads of Lincoln Highway, Route 1 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Bensalem officials contacted earlier this week about the potential sale did not respond to requests for comment on what the future holds for the brick and mortar edifice.

A Philadelphia Journal Report earlier this year estimated Brookfield could get $25 million for the property.

In June of 2022, then Lower Bucks Source contributor Josh Thompson  visited the mall for a story he was working about its apparent “slow death.”

Opened in 1968, the Neshaminy Mall has hosted stores such as “Boscov’s” and “GameStop”, but over the years, the mall has started to decline in both visitors, and renters. Walking through the mall now is like walking through a ghost town. The AMC theater and Boscov’s are still there, but stores like Macy’s, Friendly’s, and even Rita’s water ice are all gone.

Then and now, it appears the food court is the most frequently visited area in the mall.

The ability to shop online, experts say, is the single biggest contributor to the demise of shopping malls in America.

Calls to Paramount Realty were not immediately returned as of Wednesday.

Editor’s Note: Bensalem’s Josh Thompson contributed to this report. He currently works for the Bensalem School District supporting the educational successes of students with challenges. 

 

 

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