Help us meet a Matching Gift Challenge!
Contributions made by December 31, 2013 to the
Annual Appeal in honor of our Benefit Walk/Run
will be doubled by an anonymous donor!
The events of the past year have been a roller coaster ride for so many of us. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly has already been used as a movie title, and some might say it describes these times! Since I am an optimist, however, I would rather choose The Good, The Bad, and The Enduring, and here’s why:
The GOOD: A marvelous surprise capped our 8th Annual Benefit Walk/Run held on September 15th. Hosted by Uta Pippig -- three-time Boston Marathon winner, two-time Olympian, and sought-after motivational speaker -- the event inspired a challenge by an anonymous donor to match every donation made after the event!
More GOOD News: With her indomitable spirit, Uta immediately responded to the challenge with her own $1,500 donation (now worth $3,000!), saying that she is “honored to be the event’s Chair because of the great work that Orchard House does in education and in preservation of Louisa May Alcott's home. I’m also so impressed that Louisa was one of the first women ever to realize the benefits of running and exercise.”
Still More GOOD News: After the three-week government shutdown, October 17th saw visitors once more pouring through our doors, and with wonderful comments such as: “Magical!” “So worthwhile -- a true must-see!” “Not to be missed!” “A real pilgrimage.” “Wonderfully accommodating and interesting.” “A treasure!” “Well worth the money.” “I go on this tour multiple times a year and it never stops making me tear up!” These and many other remarks can be found on TripAdvisor.com, one of the most respected and frequently-consulted online travel planning resources. We’re very proud to have received their 2013 Certificate of Excellence due to hundreds of consistently good reviews!
The BAD: Economic hardship. October is our busiest month. We depend on revenue from “Fall Foliage” visitation to balance deficits of less busy months. During the government shutdown, we were in a very difficult position, losing vital admission revenue and Museum Store sales. On a day when we might have seen upwards of 300 visitors, for example, we saw only 50! Although Orchard House is a private 501(c)(3) non-profit not reliant on federal funding, we are located in the midst of Minute Man National Park; group bus tours and private tourists decided to cancel trips rather than visit an area where so much was closed. We used every means available to make it known to the public that we were open, but still suffered a 15% drop in admissions. Grateful visitors already in the area did stop by, but numerous other challenges arose because The Wayside parking lot was locked during the entire shutdown, which included the Columbus Day holiday, our absolute busiest three days of the year. We literally had Staff helping to find parking spaces outside in addition to maintaining a quality tour experience inside Orchard House. Things had gone from bad to ugly, indeed!
The ENDURING: That’s you -- our wonderful supporters -- as well as the remarkable Alcott legacy embodied in Orchard House’s tours and programs and honored by our talented Staff. For the sake of their ideals, the Alcotts experienced many trials and took great risks, especially as abolitionists serving as conductors on the Underground Railroad. They were often ridiculed for their progressive educational ideas, such as Mr. Alcott's beliefs that regardless of race or gender, equal opportunities for learning should abound for all people; that schoolchildren would learn best through honest dialogue combined with practical, hands-on experiences; and that, from the youngest to the oldest, all students deserved respect and should not receive corporal punishment. These theories are embraced today, but were radical and shocking in the 19th Century, attracting criticism and creating hardships for the Alcotts. Through it all, Mrs. Alcott's motto was “Hope, and keep busy.” That she did, nurturing an atmosphere of positive strength mixed with a good dose of humor.
From this environment sprang Little Women, Louisa May Alcott’s timeless classic that opened the door to life lessons transcending time and culture. Translated into well over 50 languages, Little Women continues to inspire people from all over the world, with many making what they consider a pilgrimage to see where the novel was written. Time spent at Orchard House leads to an even greaterof wonder and admiration as visitors discover that the Alcotts were bolder, braver, and even more endearing than their fictional counterparts. As a result, Orchard House has become one of the most beloved historic sites in the world. That Alcott spirit of “thriving through turmoil” keeps readers, visitors, and Staff energized every day.
We hope you can feel the enthusiasm, pride, and commitment consistently present at Orchard House, and that you will consider donating generously to this Annual Appeal. Your support makes a tremendous difference -- we are uplifted by it every day!
With enduring hope,
Jan Turnquist, Executive Director
Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House