Bucks County Opportunity Council Improves Lives, Sometimes One Teen at a Time

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Image via Marion Callahan at The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Jacob Newman, 18, discusses living on less than $15 an hour in Bucks County. Newman is living with a friend's family, saving for future priorities.

Plumstead Township’s Jacob Newman, 18, had three priorities: 

  • An advanced education 
  • A permanent home 
  • A reliable car 

Juggling all three with just a high school diploma and no permanent residence proved understandably difficult — very difficult, reports Chris Ullery for The Philadelphia Inquirer

Even though his job at a garden center paid more than minimum wage, Newman’s situation was no-win: 

  • Car payments knocked out college tuition and rent 
  • A decent apartment eclipsed the car and education budgets
  • A university degree sapped resources for transportation and a place to live 

Finding a jumpstart into adulthood seemed insurmountable. 

Even state and federal safety nets didn’t help. His salary was too high to qualify him for assistance to ease his food bill. 

Newman soon realized that on his road to self-sufficiency, he needed help.  

The Bucks County Opportunity Council stepped in. 

Working with Rebecca Craven, a self-sufficiency coach, she informed Newman of options. 

Craven discussed: 

  • The Council’s car-donation program, supplying reliable wheels at no cost 
  • Financial aid and scholarship help, to lessen the strech of paying for college 
  • Job assistance, to increase earnings 

Newman’s relief over sidestepping his biggest fear, homelessness, was palpable. 

“It’s really hard for someone to focus on going to school in the morning and finding full-time employment when they don’t have a place to lay their head at night,” Craven said. 

More on the financial strain that living and working in Bucks County often represents is in The Philadelphia Inquirer.  

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