A disabled veteran struggling to provide for his two godchildren, a domestic abuse survivor and other locals in need are receiving some financial relief thanks to five Bucks County Realtors/friends who came together this year to make a difference in their community.
In January, The Times introduced its readers to Christina Swain, Kelly Kemmerer, Missy Kitzmiller, Helen Irvine and Robin Kemmerer, who united to form The Queen Bees: an all-female charity organization with goals of helping residents in need and creating a positive network for women.
Each member of The Queen Bees, which encompasses women from any and all professions, committed to pledge $400 per year (or $100 each quarter). Aside from fees needed to make the group an official 501(c)(3), all proceeds raised through the end of 2023 were given to an individual or family with a financial need.
During its inaugural year, the nonprofit and its 72 members raised over $30,000 to help eight families.
“I never imagined we would be able to have such an impact on our community,” said Swain. “$30,000 is a lot of money to be able to help local people who are in need. The Queen Bees were able to make real differences in people’s lives, even change some lives. I feel truly blessed to be surrounded by 72 amazing women.”
Those helped by The Queen Bees include:
- An individual who suffered a fall while hiking in the Smoky Mountains, where she was medevaced out. In order to be closer to better medical facilities and rebuild her life, she moved back to Bucks County, but is currently staying on the couches of friends and family while looking for a room to rent. Funding from The Queen Bees will help pay several months of rent to get her started.
- A 100 percent disabled veteran who is raising his two godchildren who aren’t family as if they were his own. He is barely making ends meet and can’t afford to purchase another car, as his wasn’t worth repairing. The Queen Bees were able to find him a reasonable and reliable car in great shape, and he was thrilled.
- A single father living with relatives after becoming homeless. They live on the third floor of a hoarder house and the mother is in and out of the picture. Despite there being three children, she often takes money when she’s there. The Queen Bees purchased outfits, bedding, shoes, haircuts and cleaning supplies. One of the little girls was particularly excited about her new Stitch clothes and bedding, while her older sister loved her Nike sneakers.
- A family of seven fled a violent home, where a woman’s sister lived with them and beat them. The sister is now in jail, and the mother lives at Woodbourne Apartments with her three kids as well as her sister’s three kids. The Queen Bees are paying a few months rent for her.
- An individual was in a car accident in 1989, rendering her a quadriplegic. Her dog Sunshine is the light of her life, but he has had recent medical bills, causing her credit card to reach its limit. She feeds Sunshine before she feeds herself. The Queen Bees helped pay down her credit card and gave her grocery gift cards.
- A family is on the waiting list for a Philadelphia shelter. They are couch surfing and working for Woods Services. The Queen Bees gave the mother SEPTA cards for her to travel to and from work and school.
- A woman’s husband went to jail for domestic violence. At first, he was hitting her, but she left once he started hitting her two boys. She got an apartment, and The Queen Bees bought the living room furniture, mattresses and dining room table and chairs. They also bought the younger boys clothes and food.
- The owner of a tree service, who has a wife and two children, suffered a spontaneous brain bleed on Oct. 4. Up until recently, he was in a coma at the University of Pennsylvania fighting for his life at the age of 39. He still has a long road to recovery, and The Queen Bees donated money for his family’s bills.
“It’s incredibly uplifting to know that so many women want to be part of something so simple, yet so impactful,” said Irvine. “It’s like one big giant pay-it-forward movement is starting.”
The idea for The Queen Bees all started during a work function, which saw the friends decide to join forces for the greater good. Quickly, news of their initiative spread to like-minded women who were eager to help.
“I am incredibly impressed that a quick conversation at a Realtor event morphed into such a progressive group of individuals helping those in need in our community,” said Robin. “If we can ease the burden of someone going through a tough time, then we are truly a success.”
“Empowered women empowering local families — our bees are dedicated to making a difference in our community by providing support to those in need, one family at a time,” said Kitzmiller.
“I am so impressed with our first-year effort and I can’t wait to see what we will accomplish next year,” said Kelly.
To celebrate its success, the group recently hosted a ‘70s-themed end-of-year gala.
Looking ahead, The Queen Bees’ goal for 2024 is to have each current member invite one person to join, allowing the organization to raise $60,000 to assist locals. As was the case this year, attendees will be welcome to attend the four meetings that are held, but it won’t be mandatory. All one has to do to become and remain a Queen Bee is donate the annual fee of $400.
For information on how to join The Queen Bees, call Swain at 267-397-6291.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org