President’s Message

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Friends of the AWHM,

I hope everyone is having a wonderful start to 2020. It’s hard to believe that we are already through January. We are excited for what the year ahead holds for the museum but are also aware and cautious of several challenges that are impacting us.

Membership: It should come as no surprise that our membership is shrinking. Growth and revitalization of our membership is a MUST and key to our survival. To combat this, we are changing focus to a more robust programming model. Long gone are the days of hosting a couple events each year to raise friends and funds. Programs like movie nights for children, paint and wine nights for adults, participation in community events, and other high impact practices will expose us to a new type of member. One that expects enhanced benefits with their membership. I am happy to share that our continuous use permit was approved by the city which allows us to host as many programs annually as we’d like as part of our standard operation. My thanks go to Lynn Hightower for his quarterbacking this undertaking.

Funding: As you are also aware, our operating grant provided through the city of Virginia Beach was cut by 12% last year. At a time where we must do more with less, this cut causes a greater emphasis on how much we rely on each dollar earned through memberships, fundraisers, and donations. We must look to create new opportunities for funds, enhance fundraising initiatives we have,  and potentially abandon others that have run their course. Several examples would be our aggressive entrance into the wedding venue market, enhancing our annual Fall oyster roast, and a close look at our annual Christmas party, which lost money this past year. As you have heard me say before, we MUST do things differently.

Competition: While there are no other places like our beloved cottage, the Hampton Roads area is saturated with non-profits who are facing the same challenges and relying on the same funding we are. Again, we must do things different and provide an experience that a local or visitor can have nowhere else but at the de Witt. I would like to recognize Martha Davenport for a robust calendar of events for the upcoming spring, summer, and fall. These events will be a key factor in setting us apart.

Each of us plays a role in the success of our organization. Each dollar given or spent; each hour volunteered; each event attended; each guest you bring; each new member you help recruit; each act generously executed by you has a direct benefit to the museum and ensures its survival. My heart aches to think of a day where the de Witt can only be seen in pictures like the ones we showcase within or exhibits.

Like always, I welcome your feedback, comments, and suggestions. If you’d like to volunteer your time in the museum or make a tax deductible donation, please contact Lynn.

I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at our Guild meeting on Tuesday evening. The format for this meeting will be a “Show and Tell”. Please bring any piece that moves you and that you’d like to share with the group. Social starts at 6pm with the meeting beginning at 7pm. I enjoy our time together at these meetings.

Cheers.
Jason Seward

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