It’s a Friends Family Reunion as the Friends Association Celebrates Its 200th Anniversary

Mom with child promoting a Friends family reunion June 12.
Image via Friends Association.

You are invited to a Friends Family Reunion, a 200th Anniversary celebration of Friends Association on Sunday, June 12, at the Chester County History Center in West Chester.

Friends Association is one of the oldest continually operating nonprofit organizations in the country. For 200 years, it has been dedicated to providing the stability of a home to individuals and families throughout the region.

Supporters and friends of the organization throughout the years are encouraged to join in the reunion from 1 to 4 p.m. to view historic documents, hear stories, enjoy live music and celebrate this historic milestone.

The ticketed event includes museum admission with docent tours, light fare, beer, wine, and a signature cocktail. Tickets are $50 each and are available to the public. The Chester County History Center is located at 225 N. High Street in West Chester and parking is free on Sundays.  Current sponsors include Malvern Bank, Univest Financial, and Franny & Franny Abbott, among others.

Find out more here about purchasing tickets and sponsorship opportunities.

Those who have been involved with the Friends Association over the years can also submit a story, memory or upload an image at the nonprofit’s website here to be shared in celebration throughout the year.

The story of Friends Association

Friends Association traces its beginnings to 1822, when a Quaker in the city of Philadelphia named Anne Yarnall met with a few friends about how they could help orphaned children in their community.  They started an orphanage and in 1829, the organization incorporated.

In the following year, the ‘shelter’ moved to several locations in the city, with a goal of creating a sense of family for the children.  The organization focused a lot of its attention on the health of the children since many arrived sick at the shelter. During the Civil War, a number of the children had parents who were escaping slavery.

In 1915, the organization moved to the country so that children could enjoy ‘fresh air and plenty of playground space’.  Three cottages on the campus of Cheyney University were donated to the organization as homes for young African American girls with an emphasis on education and cultural activities.

In 1967, the organization changed its name to the Friends Shelter for Girls. Records show that the cottages fell in disrepair and were eventually sold. They are currently in use as the Thornbury Township Building Complex.  The organization moved to West Chester in 1974 and was located at the YMCA until moving to the old Kesher Israel building where an emergency shelter was created in the basement.

In the 1980s the organization moved into its current location on West Chestnut Street and became the Friends Association for Care & Protection of Children.  By 2010, the organization began providing single furnished apartment units to families experiencing the crisis of homelessness. They made a decision to focus solely on the innovative non-congregant emergency housing model and homelessness prevention efforts to make a greater impact on the community.

Today, 200 years later, Friends Association continues its long tradition of serving the community.  As a thriving nonprofit, the organization continues to grow, offering innovative programs and services to prevent homelessness and promote housing justice for all.

Find out more about the Friends Association.

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