Breaking down barriers
They’re innovators and trailblazers. Visionaries. Self-starters. Who step up to do the good and be the love they’d like to see in their communities. They’re ordinary women doing extraordinary things. And we’re honored to celebrate them. This is WomanKind, where making a difference means sharing your passions and gifts with the world.
Meg Eubank’s passion for teaching has led her to a meaningful life in an unexpected way. As Executive Director of Welcoming the Stranger (WTS), the Langhorne, PA-based nonprofit that offers free classes in English, computer skills and U.S. citizenship preparation, she helps immigrants and refugees make a fresh start in America.
When Meg Eubank speaks at the front of a Welcoming the Stranger class, you can sense echoes of the little girl she once was, lining up her dolls and creating a makeshift school in her childhood living room. What she does here, however, is no child’s play. She has every student’s future in her hands.
In this English class, there is a feeling of gentle confidence coming from Meg and a palpable, focused determination emanating from each of the seven students. These adults have come from Pakistan, Korea, Kazakhstan, China, Turkey, Russia. They represent an entire population that has tales to tell – of hardship, persecution, suffering, fear – and of hope for a new life. The energy, optimism and determination of Meg Eubank are key to that hope.
With parents who consistently encouraged learning and a mother and grandmother who were teachers, Meg’s destiny was an education career. Her Masters degree in Language Arts and English education led her to a job as an English as Second Language specialist at Bucks County Community College and a position as a coordinator and teacher for WTS. Ultimately, when retiring WTS founder Reverend Sturgis Poorman asked her if she would consider applying for his position, she stepped into the Executive Director role in 2015.
In all, WTS is about relationships, she says. “It’s a family. A group of people who work together and support each other. We have people from five continents who bond over the immigrant experience. They don’t share a culture, but they become each other’s support system. And our wonderful American volunteers adopt them, and they get together outside of class.”
The Power of Community
To illustrate the power of and need for WTS, she shares one of many stories she’s heard of astonishing hardship. A young woman, a single mother with a toddler daughter, had been a victim of human trafficking. She came to WTS about a year ago with very few English language skills…and even less confidence. WTS helped her find a job with an employer who is bilingual, and she has since been promoted. She recently stood up in front of a group and spoke in English about herself, her daughter and her work.
“The students inspire me every day,” says Meg. “I teach night class, too, and it can be difficult knowing I have to go out again after I come home at the end of the day. But as soon as I get there and hear the stories and successes, it’s so energizing to hear how they overcame big odds, and even left behind a family and children to start over in a new land.
“You can’t take a day off in this work,” she continues. “It’s about their needs and how I can meet those needs. I have a five-mile long to-do list, so I try to think about what will make the most impact. The class is at the top of my list, but I also need to connect them with community resource groups and job possibilities.”
Believing in a Vision
Her recommendation for others who have a vision: “Don’t stop trying. If you have a vision to do something where pathways exist, you can get involved in local groups. But if it’s your own idea, just go out on a limb and put it out there and see what happens. You have to put in the work and dedicate yourself to make something happen.”
Meg has also proven that hard work and dedication can have a positive impact on others. As of last spring, her organization helped over 3,000 students. She finds this incredibly rewarding.
“If I do nothing else in life, I’ve done this,” she says. “I’m proud to be doing something meaningful and impactful in the world.”