- News & Events
In Bucks County, in the summer of 1972, a facility geared to the unique wants and needs of an increasing population of “recovering” female alcoholics was non-existent. In all of Eastern Pennsylvania, in fact, statistics were showing a growing number of women not physically ill enough to be hospitalized by the disease of alcohol, but not sufficiently “well” to cope with reality, finding themselves rejected by families, worthwhile friends, and quite often without any employment prospects or training to sustain them until their re-entry into a sober society.
The concept of a Halfway House, where these women could live temporarily, and have an opportunity to learn how to re-direct their lives, was a “dream shared by several empathic persons,” and thus Libertae was founded.
The early meetings of this small group of concerned people were held in the basement of one of the more active A.A. centers in the area, since help for the alcoholic was of prime interest. In those early days, the notion of a place-solely for these “outcasts” was often met with derision and not much support, but that united band of women and men were determined to make every effort to attain fulfillment of their goal.
To have a definite identity, several names for this Project were considered. “Libertae,” symbolizing “freedom,” was formally adopted and the Logo (a small square form of red representing an acre) was established: a vision of a house surrounded by some ground, removed from commercialism and limited residential areas, to be called “Libertae Acres” was a part of that “dream.”
Within a few months, the small, inspired number of dues-paying members were meeting at the local Board of Health Center in Bristol. The group included an attorney, who volunteered his legal services. This was the first important step toward establishing a “non-profit organization, providing educational, counseling, social treatment and referral services for female persons of all ages who are afflicted with problems of alcohol.”
Articles of Incorporation, signed by five (5) dedicated members and all pertinent data were anxiously submitted to the Pennsylvania Corporation Bureau, and Libertae, Inc. was granted its Charter on the 30th day of January, 1973. By-Laws (in accordance with Robert's Rules on Parliamentary Procedure) were adopted and our purpose was established.
Having executed all the basic groundwork for accomplishing its goals, the group then became involved in an all-out effort to find a suitable property, arrange an “open house” to familiarize the community with the program, and to seek ways and means for launching the projects. Committees were formed to work with area Realtors searching for a proper residence, and all the volunteers worked together on compiling lists, sending invitations and making all the necessary preparations for an Official Announcement.
It was during this period at a town meeting was held at the First Presbyterian Church of Levittown, featuring several well-known personages as speakers. The purpose of this meeting was to acquaint the public with the many available services throughout the area. The Minister, Reverend Spahr, familiar with our group's plans and knowing several of our members, encouraged our attendance. Questions were raised by “our” women, and Mr. Milton Berkes, a staunch supporter of worthwhile causes, suggested we document all our recommendations, complete with statistics and present them to a Congressional Hearing in Harrisburg. Our proposal justifying the need for a Halfway House for Recovering Female Alcoholics was favorably accepted for consideration and Libertae was truly “ON THE WAY!”
With this promising turn of events, a re-organizational meeting was held with an Election of Officers, appointments to Standing Committees, and a selection of a Board of Directors. Membership was to be composed of all volunteers and a salaried Executive Director of Administration was named.
Our efforts in searching for a suitable property – larger than a single family dwelling and smaller than a mini-hotel – were very disappointing. Zoning Laws and Building Codes prevented the Board from locating in the desired areas. Fortunately, however, several persons on the Board were affiliated with the Livengrin Foundation, an established Alcoholic Treatment Center, and were instrumental in negotiations to rent an old farmhouse on the grounds, adjacent to the hospital staff quarters. A lease was signed, furnishings for the entire house (to accommodate ten women) were bought, and the doors of Libertae were opened for our first residents, slightly over one year from the time when all it was really a “dream!”
In the ensuing years, many changes took place. It was a difficult period when there were no well defined guidelines to follow. With the growing population of Libertae, the need for more staff, and the uncertainty of the Board's role in all this, a trying and hectic situation was created. The lack of communication between the Staff and Board became a major issue in this “growing period,” and in spite of all efforts to remedy the situation by contracting with several consultants, i.e. the NOVA Institute, York & Associates (for staff training) and YWCA (for Board Workshop), there were still many obstacles in the path of fulfilling the goals envisioned by the original Board members.
In the early winter of 1978, when matters had reached a point where we were in jeopardy of losing the needed monies from our major source of funding, the Board requested a meeting with all factions being present: the Governor's Council on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, the Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission, Board Members and Staff, in an earnest desire to clarify and resolve the precarious situation.
This meeting, held in Doylestown, was successful in making the Board aware of its functions. A concerted effort was immediately launched to comply with directives from the funding agency and to review its Policies and By-laws.
First on the agenda was the search by the Personnel Committee for a Project Director. Job Descriptions were reviewed and studied, advertisements were placed in newspapers, appeals were sent to Placement Bureaus of area Universities, and members were requested to suggest any personal contacts as prospective applicants.
Screening the some 60-odd resumes and applications received involved many hours and much time. Finally, on May 6th (3 months after the search began), initial interviews were held for 10 semi-finalists. During this time, the BCDAC was being advised of the progress, and all data was duly shared with the Commission and approved. A few weeks later, four finalists were invited for a second interview, and in time to meet the time table arrived at mutually by the Board and the BCDAC, a new Executive Director was hired.
The Program Analyst for Bucks County Drug and Alcohol, Bob Gorodetzer, was so cooperative in helping the Board achieve this momentous task that this narrative “history” of Libertae would not be accurate if mention was not made of his endless support and willingness to see our program succeed.
To conform fully with the suggested staffing pattern presented by BCDAC, it was necessary to institute a new staffing order. Plans were made immediately to abolish the position of Administrative Assistant, or as was at various times identified, Acting Executive Director, Office Manager, and Project Director. The transition was not expected to be instantaneous. It was expected to take several months for all persons concerned to be made aware of such. It was expected that the orientation of the new Executive Director would take several months as well.
Following the probationary period of three months, the Executive Director fully justified the Board’s endorsement by diligently mastering the day-to-day operations, fiscal management and public relations and formulating a viable staff. An accredited counselor and secretary were hired; volunteers from the Board cooperated in office and driving chores; materials were acquired and renovations were made.
The new year, 1979, found the status of Libertae much brighter; a Grant of $8,000 for the first year was received from Bucks County United Fund (an increase of $3,000 over the previous year's allotment); a firm commitment from USDA Food Stamp Program for eligible residents; and a complete Staffing Pattern with additional personnel were all indications that Libertae had “weathered the storms” often necessary to reach any far-reaching goals.
The Board could now concentrate on an Action Plan, introduced by the Executive Director, seeking funds for relocation and becoming self-supportive. The program was growing larger and plans for expansion were being discussed.
The Board increased its membership with dedicated persons and had hopes of formulating an Advisory Board within a few months the Finance and Personnel Committees had formed a good working relationship with the new Director and Staff; and a Policies and Procedures Manual was adopted.>> Back to Top