Bucks County Intermediate Unit – Barth Consulting Group – 2019 Caring Community Award Recipients
Revitalizing a town center goes beyond opening new businesses and repurposing blighted buildings.
On May 15th, 2019, Barth Consulting Group’s President Stephen Barth and Manager of Downtown Development, Michelle Shire were honored to be the recipient of Bucks County Intermediate Unit’s “Caring Community Award” – “an award created by the BCIU to recognize special individuals, outside our organization, who have made an extraordinary contribution which directly impacts the students served by our IU.”
Barth Consulting Group (BCG), as Economic Development consultants, has the opportunity to revitalize downtowns and positively impact the lives of those less fortunate and in greatest need. This includes helping local food banks, homeless shelters and organizations that assist individuals with handicaps and disabilities. Our company culture is focused on service to others, living a purposeful life and helping others along the way, it is very rewarding and fulfilling work.
Five years ago BCG first began working with BCIU’s WOW program (We’re Outstanding Workers) in Perkasie Borough to help them find a commercially certified kitchen in a local church where they could bake cookies used in fundraising. At the Awards Ceremony, one of the church members gracefully relayed that renting the kitchen would have a positive impact on the students, yet never imagined how much of an impact the students would have on them.
The Bucks County Intermediate Unit’s WOW Program helps prepare special needs, young adults from local school districts for life after high school graduation utilizing a unique community-based format of continued educational encouragement and training that establishes natural support and community connections for the youth. The skills covered in this type of program are varied and may include basic kitchen and cooking proficiencies, budgeting and bill paying, essential office skills and equipment operation, doing laundry, shopping, social and communication skills, and how to complete forms and applications.
In 2017, the WOW Program was growing and needed a permanent classroom location. On behalf of our client, Perkasie Borough, we recommended numerous sites that could possibly meet their special requirements for handicapped access, security for students and access to a life skills learning environment. We finally recommended and secured a long vacant BlockBuster Video Store in the Perkasie Square Shopping Center. At first glance the IU was uncertain about locating within a shopping center. We then connected them with the other tenants in the complex that included a supermarket, pharmacy, bank, McDonald’s and several restaurants. The students now work in and with the other retailers learning work and life skills.
The Perkasie Square Shopping Center is also located across from one of Perkasie Borough’s largest community parks. Access for the students, some in wheelchairs, was very difficult and required them hopping curbs in the McDonald’s drive through lane. A recent building upgrade at McDonald’s allowed for a new handicapped access ramp into the park..
Gaining the support of the community is key to the WOW Program’s future success. BCG was requested by the IU to help them celebrate their one year anniversary and gain greater community exposure. BCG arranged a public presentation before Perkasie’s Borough Council to promote public awareness and support.
ABOUT THE BUCKS COUNTY INTERMEDIATE UNIT: With over 45 years of service, the Bucks County Intermediate Unit has established itself as an abundantly skilled, technology-rich, provider of high quality, cost-effective, instructional and operational services to public and private schools, school districts, charter schools, and our community. From an exceptional and broad foundation of specialty education support services, we advocate for every child, while also offering a wide range of programs, from cooperative purchasing to professional development courses, to nurture a stronger community. Visit our website at www.BucksIU.org or call us at 215-348-2940 for more information.