Each year, we ask locals to nominate Bucks County’s most influential people – men and women who are shaping the community, influencing their industries, and making a difference. Dozens of amazing stories were submitted about passionate and committed locals. At Bucks Happening, we salute all those who wake up every morning with the intention of leaving the world just a little bit better.
10 outstanding individuals have been named the Top 10 Movers & Shakers of the year, and we have the honor of sharing their stories on Bcks Happening. Meet Meg Eubank, who currently resides Langhorne but is originally from Gardenville, PA. Meg is the Executive Director of Welcoming the Stranger, a Bucks County nonprofit that offers free English, citizenship, and computer classes to immigrants and refugees.
She is currently on the planning committee for the Yardley Peace Festival, which works with local organizations like the Zubaida Foundation, the Interfaith Community of Lower Bucks, A Woman's Place, and Arcadia University, Warminster Collaborative, and Pearl S. Buck International.
Bucks Happening: Where did you attend school?
Meg: I feel I had an excellent base from my years in the Central Bucks school system, at Gayman Elementary, Holicong M.S. and Central Bucks East H.S. I earned my undergraduate and Masters degrees at Arcadia University.
Bucks Happening: What motivates you every morning?
Meg: Like anyone, there are days that I would love to just sleep an extra ten minutes. However, when I get out of bed and go to teach English classes to immigrants and refugees, my students energize me. My students, many of whom who have seen challenges many of us can’t even imagine, are so motivated, positive, and dedicated to starting a new life in this country. For them, the American dream is very real. When I see my students having breakthroughs; succeeding in a job interview, earning their driver’s license, or even just getting excited over being able to order food at a take out window for the first time, that’s what keeps me going.
Bucks Happening: What would you say is your idea of a perfect day
Meg: My work day never really follows this schedule, but this is what I would envision a perfect day to be like. It would be one where I go teach a class or two where I am able to help my students resolve any challenges they’re facing, and watching those “lightbulb moments” happen. After class, at the office, I may answer the phone call of a student who tells me about a goal met or a roadblock surpassed, or I may have a meeting with another community group about how we can support each other (and, most importantly, our clients).
If it was a day where I didn’t teach an evening class, I would go home to my boyfriend Roland and dog Colby, and the end to that perfect day would be to take the family to a park, walking Colby, watching him find pure bliss just being outside and sniffing the air. Then, Roland would cook an amazing meal (he’s a fantastic chef) and we’d spend a nice evening together relaxing and maybe making some collaborative art.
Bucks Happening: Who inspires you?
Meg: My students inspire me every day. They work so hard and I can learn so much from them and their experiences. I am also completely inspired by my family. My parents have always been self-starters and raised me with a sense that if you feel a calling to do something and have an interest, anything is possible. They are both activists in their community, creative souls, and hard workers, always pursuing their goals. This sense of motivation has also rubbed off on my sister, Grace, who is taking the world by storm up in New York City, working in theater administration. My boyfriend Roland inspires me to look at the world with a creative eye, to see possibility for a great future, and serves as a wonderful model of a hardworking, caring, selfless person who goes out of his way to take care of the ones he loves. In my career, I am inspired daily by the work of our organization’s founder, Sturgis Poorman, as I try to carry on his legacy, and all the dedicated, talented folks I work with at Welcoming the Stranger. I am very lucky to be surrounded by a supportive, passionate Board of Directors, volunteers, and coworkers who care very deeply about the mission. I am also inspired by the community leaders I have gotten to know through my work, and I am constantly learning from them. Leaders at Bucks County Community College, Interfaith Community of Lower Bucks, The Peace Center, Khalsa Healing Arts Center, and Welcoming the Stranger’s many community partners have shown me what true service to the community looks like.
Bucks Happening: How did you decide to go into teaching and ultimately working at a non-profit?
Meg: I have always felt the calling to teach, and I have had teaching jobs ranging from elementary level to college. It was a circuitous path, but I was led to teaching ESL and found it most rewarding. I have always tried to pursue a career that made me feel like I was making a tangible difference in the world, and through my work with Welcoming the Stranger, I feel that I can positively affect people’s lives by helping them achieve their goals.
Bucks Happening: Which achievement are you most proud of?
Meg: Although all of our students' achievements become, in a sense, Welcoming the Stranger’s achievements, there are a few times when I was able to give some students the tools they needed to get themselves through some giant hurdles. There are times students came to me for help with some tough stories and dire circumstances, and I was able to guide them through the proper channels and show them the possibilities. These are the situations I will always remember and will count among my greatest life achievements. It gives me great pride to see my students overcome barriers so that they can realize their potential. For example, some women students come from countries where women don’t handle anything outside the home. If they suddenly find themselves on their own in America, the women need to learn how to talk to landlords, open bank accounts, find jobs outside the home, and many other steps that they previously had no experience with. My work allows me to be able to help them navigate these situations. Helping my students solve life's challenges makes me feel like if I did nothing else worthwhile in life, I have helped some people have a chance to build a new life in our country.
Bucks Happening: What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
Meg: Finding resources to help my students solve the above mentioned life challenges – and finding ongoing funding for our programs!
Bucks Happening: What is the biggest accomplishment that you’d like to achieve over the next 5 years?
Meg: I would like to secure strong funding for our programs and continue to meet the needs of the people who use Welcoming the Stranger’s services, as well as continuing to grow the organization to help people achieve the successful life they hope to have in America.
Bucks Happening: How do you think your friends & coworkers would describe you?
Meg: I found this question the hardest, because I'm not used to pinning accolades on myself, so I reached out to friends and co-workers through Facebook and these are some of their responses:
- optimistic, nonjudgmental, internally motivated, globally oriented, kind, intuitive
- the boss everyone is hoping to be lucky to have
- Someone who gets the job done, someone who cares deeply about others, is always willing to help, someone who makes an incredible difference in people's lives.
- Great mentor, patient, creative
Bucks Happening: Where’s your favorite place to go in Bucks County?
Meg: I love to go walk in the woods of Bucks County, off the beaten path, or take rides through the countryside to enjoy the stone walls and tall trees that line narrow back roads. For nightlife, I like to go to New Hope or Doylestown to listen to live music.
Bucks Happening: You can take a time machine back to visit yourself 10 years ago. What advice would you give?
Meg: I really like where I ended up, and everything I did in the past brought me to where I am now. I would tell myself to keep doing what I’m doing – it will lead me to where I should be.
Bucks Happening: Same question 10 years in the future.
Meg: Slow down and enjoy every moment because time moves so quickly!
Plus, take a look back at the Top 10 Movers & Shakers from 2013, 2014, & 2015. You can read about more outstanding individuals from across the region in Hunterdon County, Northern Delaware, Montgomery County, & Philadelphia.