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Enhancing the Health and Welfare

of Central Bucks County and Surrounding Communities

The Village Improvement Association of Doylestown was founded in 1895 to support and enhance the quality of life in Central Bucks County. In 1923, the VIA opened Doylestown Hospital, where they initially swept floors, made meals, and balanced the books. More than 125 years later we’re still going strong!

Members of the 2022 – 2024 VIA Board of Directors

Today, the VIA members continue to govern this award-winning healthcare system, run the annual Bucks County Designer House & Gardens fundraiser, support our local communities and families, provide teen and adult scholarships, help veterans, and maintain the VIA’s historic headquarters and museum, the James-Lorah Memorial Home.

Click on an entry below to learn more about the VIA’s . . .



Since 1895, the Village Improvement Association of Doylestown has worked to improve the lives of  families in Central bucks County and the surrounding communities. The ladies began with cleaning the streets to keep the filth out of their homes and children’s lungs, and quickly moved to health care, welfare, and education. Our ladies established Doylestown Hospital in 1923 and we still govern the hospital and the award-winning Doylestown Health system. But we also provide educational scholarships, community awards and grants, donations to veterans groups, and so much more. Our history provides a fascinating look into the development of this area and in the power of determined (but genteel!) women.  Learn more . . .




Community Response and Recognition

The VIA awards one-time grants to other non-profit organizations which address unmet community needs. Community Response grants have included the Ann Silverman clinic, the Lenape Valley Foundation, Community Harvest, CB Cares, and other local community groups. Recognition awards honor an individual or group which has contributed to the community in a way consistent with the mission of the Village Improvement Association. Past honorees have included the Bucks County Children’s Museum, Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, and Special Equestrians.  Learn more . . . 


Welfare Committee

The Welfare Committee, originally named the Organized Charity Committee, was established in 1897 to serve those in need in the community. Over a hundred years later, the members of the VIA’s Welfare Committee receive referrals from area social service agencies and provide confidential financial assistance for food, clothing, baby supplies, prescription medicines, car repairs, rent, and utilities. Annual winter gift-card giving assists financially challenged families of students enrolled in the Central Bucks School District. Members of the committee are available seven days a week to receive referrals. Welfare is funded by earnings from trusts, donations from VIA members and the community at large, and proceeds from VIA’s largest fundraiser – the Bucks County Designer House & Gardens.  Learn more . . . 

2018 Meeting with Community Partners
2018 Meeting with Community Partners

Neo-Natal Abstinance Syndrome (NAS) Project

The Welfare Committee initiative helps families affected by the opioid epidemic by providing essential baby items to parents of newborns with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). The Baby Bags include comfort and care items like sleep sacks to promote safe sleep, pacifiers to help improve the babies sucking reflex and other items including hats, blankets, baby wash, baby lotion, nursing pads, toys and books. Learn more . . .

Preparing NAS Baby Bags
Preparing NAS Baby Bags


Educational Scholarships

The VIA offers educational scholarships to both high school students (male or female) and adult women.  Teen Scholarships are for high school seniors who reside in the Central Bucks School District and who have been accepted by a college or university to major in a human health-related program. The HOBY (Hugh O’Brien Youth) scholarship is for Central Bucks sophomores for the summer before their junior years. Adult scholarships provide financial aid to eligible women to obtain education and/or training to prepare them to secure employment or to improve their work status by upgrading their skills.   Learn more . . .



The mission of the Veterans Committee is to “Support the mission of the VIA by providing information on military issues to the VIA membership and by collecting and coordinating VIA donations to selected military charities.” The committee collects donations at the October and November VIA meetings and distributes the funds through the rest of the club year.   Learn more . . .

VIA-Supported YMCA Veterans Lunch
VIA-Supported YMCA Veterans Lunch


Doylestown Health Governance

The Village Improvement Association started the first visiting nurse program in the early 1900s, helped support the O.P. James ambulance, went door to door to collect funds for a community hospital, and in 1923, founded the first Doylestown Hospital. In the beginning, the VIA members did the majority of the non-medical work, including cleaning and cooking. Two moves later, Doylestown Health is now a nationally recognized center of excellence for general, stroke, cardiac, orthopedic, and cancer care. And the VIA still provides governance through the Doylestown Health and Doylestown Hospital Foundations and the Boards of Trustees.

Learn more about the VIA’s governance . . .              Link to Doylestown Health

The VIA founded and still governs Doylestown Health



The Bucks County Designer House is the VIA’s largest fundraiser. The majority of funds raised are donated to Doylestown Health projects and the remaining funds support our other VIA community projects. Our work for the Designer House starts even before the current year ends: we find and contract for a house, usually with at least 20 design areas, garden spaces, and space for boutiques, a cafe, and parking. Our designers, landscapers, and boutiques begin their work in late February and must be finished by late April: the entire property is transformed in two months! Our visitors then have the month of May to enjoy our volunteers’ and partners’ work.

Click HERE to visit the Bucks County Designer House & Garden Website.



The handsome 1840s Federal-style building at 132 North Main Street, Doylestown, known as the James-Lorah Memorial Home, was the home for 85 years of Miss Sarah James, a founding member of the VIA. Mis James bequeathed her mansion AND its complete contents to the VIA upon her death in 1954.  It is now the VIA headquarters and a fascinating museum of Victorian lifestyles and Doylestown’s history. The James-Lorah Memorial Home Committee maintains the home, the attached auditorium, and the huge collection of antique furniture, toys, books, medical equipment from Miss James’ father, and other fascinating artifacts. The committee holds regular tours of the Home and its contents.  Learn more . . .

The attached James-Lorah Auditorium provides room for up to 144 guests and includes a raised stage, air conditioning, free WiFi, and a modern audio-visual system with streaming video, overhead projection, and a full sound system.

Click HERE to learn more about the history of the James-Lorah Memorial Home.
Click HERE to learn more about tours and special events.
Click HERE to learn more about auditorium rentals.




Membership is open to any woman interested in making a difference in her community. Dues are $45/year. Membership meetings are held October – June. Committee meetings are scheduled by the committee’s members.


Learn about our mission-focused, social, and organizational committees as well as local community group VIA-representative opportunities. If you join, we’ll ask if there is a committee (or several!) that you’re interested in joining. Learn more . . . 

JOIN THE VIA                      SUPPORT THE VIA