William Penn House Annual Reports
The text of recently received Annual Reports are below, with the most recently received at the top and older reports below. To jump to a particular report, simply click the year listed below.
|2011 Report||2012 Report||2013 Report||2014 Report||2015 Report|
|2016 Report||2017 Report||2018 Report|
2017 was a year of transition and growth for William Penn House. We entered our 2nd half-century of service in the midst of social and political turmoil as intense as it’s been since the years of our founding in the mid-1960s. Our mission—supporting peace and justice activism and inspiring and equipping people from all walks of life to use their gifts to build peace and justice—has never been timelier or more urgently needed.
Providing simple, community-based, and welcoming overnight hospitality for activists, educators, and students remains central to our activities, as it has been since our founding. Guests last year included many activists visiting Washington to lobby congress, to protest in and around the Capitol, and to participate in the many large marches. We hosted citizen-activists with (among others) FCNL, AFSC, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, the Center for Popular Democracy, Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, United We Dream, the Student/Farmworker Alliance, and AIDS United, providing a base of operations and a space of nurture and refuge as they worked for health-care justice, immigrant rights, labor rights, climate justice, and other urgent peace and justice causes.
In addition to overnight accommodations, we extended our hospitality mission to support activists in new ways. We opened our doors as a “comfort station” for the Women’s March on Washington in January, the People’s Climate March in April, and the March for Racial Justice in September. Each day, hundreds of marchers stopped in for a bathroom, snack, and a place to relax and make connections with other marchers. We also supported FCNL’s Interfaith Vigil to Save Medicaid in late June, providing logistical support and hospitality for this important event of Quaker witness.
Our service-learning and social justice education programs expanded last year, as more educators and youth leaders have seen the need for powerful social justice education opportunities. Participants came from Quaker and other independent schools, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches, four colleges, and an international youth leadership program run by Indiana University. Through our service-learning programs, we supported 10 grassroots non-profits providing service and dignity for the marginalized and working to build a more just, caring, and healthy community. Key partners included DC Urban Greens (an urban agriculture / food justice program), Our Daily Bread (a community breakfast on Capitol Hill), DC Central Kitchen (a city-wide food justice program), and Capitol Hill Village (an aging-in-place support network).
We also continued longstanding relationships with communities in southern Louisiana and McDowell County, WV, with our annual week-long Quaker workcamps. In March, we led a group of high-schoolers to Louisiana for the 12th year, to serve and learn in New Orleans and with the Ile de Jean-Charles native community. In June, we led another group to West Virginia for our 17th annual workcamp with a community-based non-profit, providing simple home repairs for community members and building relationships across cultural and geographic divides.
We hosted five public events on peace & justice issues in 2017, giving activists an opportunity to share their work and facilitate important discussions. Presentations included Linda Rabben sharing her research and activism on asylum and immigrant rights, Quaker performer Peterson Toscano sharing stories and reflections on faith, LGBTQ+ inclusion, and climate change (yes, there are connections!), and Dyresha Harris sharing insights and reflections from the STRIDE program, which seeks to build and support truly diverse, inclusive communities in Baltimore Yearly Meeting’s summer camps. Since the New Year, we have expanded our public events program with a new Social Justice Movie Night series, with screenings of documentary films on important peace and justice issues followed by discussion.
Financially, 2017 was a year of addressing long-term problems and building positive trends. Most importantly, we resolved our lawsuit with the DC government about our property tax assessment, reaching a satisfactory compromise agreement. Thanks to generous contributions from Friends, we paid the past-due balance and are moving forward with a manageable new annual expense. The lawsuit and staff transitions took a toll on our finances and program activities, but program revenues and contributions have increased, putting us on the path toward financial sustainability. For the fiscal year ending in June 2017, we improved our bottom line by $40,000 over the prior year, but that improvement was still not adequate to cover all our expenses. Continued expansions in contributions and program revenues are needed to balance the budget, make key investments in facilities and programs, and build reserves for a strong, solid future for William Penn House.
William Penn House relies on generous contributions from F/friends to make these programs possible and widely accessible. In fiscal year 2017, 199 individuals and 47 Friends Meetings donated to our programs, accounting for 26% of our operating budget. Without this support, we would not be able to keep the fees for our lodging and educational programs affordable, host public events, and invest in improving our facilities and developing more powerful programs. Even more importantly, contributions from across the country remind us that our work is lifted up and held in the Light by a nationwide community of F/friends. Gifts from Friends Monthly and Yearly Meetings are especially important to us, representing as they do the corporate action of a worshiping community. Thirty-six monthly meetings (from 14 yearly meetings) and eleven yearly meetings contributed last year.
We are very grateful for the generous annual support from Baltimore Yearly Meeting, as well as from eleven BYM Monthly Meetings and numerous individual BYM Friends. This support makes our ministry possible—thank you!
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In May, William Penn House was one of the twelve homes featured on the Capitol Hill Home and Garden tour. It was a great opportunity to address some deferred maintenance and to reach out to our community. We repainted a number of rooms, shaped up the gardens, built a staircase so the visitors could see the green roof with sedum growing on the Carriage House and to see our rain garden. Over the two days about 1200 people visited the House. As we worked on the House we reflected on where we have been, where we are and where we are going.
Hospitality continues to be a critical service that we provide. At annual occupancy of 70% we are clear that this is an important mission that we support. Our guests are all ages, from around the world. They come as individuals, as groups and as families. This spring we hosted young peoples, such as the 27th year of the 4th grade class of Plymouth Meeting Friends School and 20 youth from Miramar. Our guests were here to lobby, to study, to tour.
Through our Workcamps, we have 5 community garden plots to raise vegetables for disadvantaged neighbors. We glean the fields, we weed the city parks, and we feed the homeless. We engage our community, we truly learn through service. Our road trips include a week in New Orleans, a week in West Virginia and two weeks on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. In each of these trips we partner with established service programs and help them to more readily meet their mission. We are exploring Workcamps in Jamaica. We recognize that we need to change the name of Washington Quaker Workcamps to better reflect who and what we are.
Through our programs activities we also plan world class seminars on human rights, peace and social justice and the myriad issues surrounding AIDS/HIV. We host diverse groups including “Free the Cuban 5”, Peace Corp training, yoga and singing babies. Our goal sit to build bridges and reflect on the fact that each of us has a vision of the truth and that vision becomes clear when we work, live and learn together.
In 2016, William Penn House will celebrate its 50th anniversary as a Quaker facility. In 2017, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the construction of the historic house that is so important. And in 2016, I will celebrate my 70th birthday and the welcoming of the next executive director of William Penn House. Over the next three years there will be numerous opportunities to celebrate who we are, where we have been and where we are going.
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In December 2010, I completed 10 years here in Washington at William Penn House. It has been an amazing decade and I have been enriched through the experience. This past year has been busy, eventful and continues with our seeking to live our lives with purpose using the Quaker testimonies as our guide.
We continue our commitment to nurturing the gifts and leadings of our staff. We are pleased that during 2010, the Hospitality Coordinator, Faith Kelley, and the Workcamps Coordinator, Greg Woods were both in their mid 20s. Both brought unique gifts and insights to their jobs as well as solid work ethics. We also recruited 5 young adults to serve on our Board of Directors. These young people are not ensnared with how things were but are motivated by how things can be. Through our internship program, we seek to provide genuine opportunities for growth and seasoning of these gifted young people. But with people at the start of their careers and through the very nature of internships, we experienced turnovers of staff. In 2010, Wambani Lusenaka of Kenya and Amanda Haase of Chicago completed their internships and returned or continued their graduate studies. Greg Woods also left for some reflection on his next challenge. After living for several months on his family’s Missouri farm, Greg will be on the staff of Pendle Hill for the summer then will attend Princeton Theological School. Harry Caterson of Bucks County, PA, joined us as an intern.
Recognizing that the economy was uncertain, we reduced our staff to control our overhead. A couple of years ago we changed from a staff janitor to a cleaning service. Recently we switched our payroll to a payroll service. We delayed replacing departing staff.
We started the year with blizzard like conditions here and elsewhere. This led to many cancellations in February. With the soft economy our numbers of guests was slightly less than last year. We still had 7280 guests, including 61 groups. 358 young people participated in 18 Workcamps. Those Workcamps included two weeks in South Dakota with the Lakota Indians, a week in New Orleans and a week in a rural community in West Virginia. We continued our hosting of over 30 Wilmington College students participating in the FCNL Lobby Days. Our guests ranged from a troop of Brownies to senior citizens. We offer a unique and inexpensive place for individuals and groups to stay while visiting Washington.
We continue to develop the concept of Radical Hospitality where we offer a warm and open place for dialogue and conversation. Through open listening to others, we are affirmed in our belief that there is that of God in all and we can then set aside our tendency to believe that we are following the only spiritual path. Brad Ogilvie continues to provide a needed voice and leadership on all AIDS/HIV issues.
As summer approaches, we will be visiting different yearly meetings. We look forward to the opportunity to share with you.
Byron Sandford, Executive Director