A letter from our Executive Director | Hands-On House

A letter from our Executive Director

Thank you for your interest and support in Hands-on House. I’m very happy to be aboard! A special thanks to everyone who took a minute to welcome me over the past few months.

Hands-on House is getting ready to enter a new and exciting phase in its life, so I’d like to highlight a few things and invite you and your family to participate.

You may have heard that in early 2020 we will be installing a new exhibit, HOH Construction Co. It will be centered upon a two-story structure where children will be able to learn and build. The exhibit is to include a climb-on dump truck; building blocks of simulated wood, brick, and cinder block; special electrical connections enabling kids to run wiring to make lights and other things work; a real-tools section; as well as an assortment of trucks, excavation, painting, plumbing and more.

Volunteers: We are fortunate to have a large group of teens help us during our summer camp. Our unique ability to have 1-on-1 play time with campers is great. We are looking to expand the use of volunteers so we can expand programming at Hands-on House. If you know of adults or teens looking to volunteer, we have several needs —  routine tidying up, helping with birthday parties or group visits, working our admissions desk, painting and repairing exhibits, and much more. Adults will require background clearances.

Diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion: In recent months Hands-on House has taken significant steps in ensuring museum resources are available to everyone. This is not an easy task but a very necessary one. In August our sidewalk was extended, and additional ramps were added. We will be adding additional handicapped parking spaces soon. The museum became a Blue Star Museum and offers free admission to active duty military families during the summer months. We also became part of Museums for All in February, so those receiving food assistance (SNAP) benefits gain reduced price admission of $3. The balance is underwritten by a donor. We also plan to make family admission passes available at all 17 Lancaster County Library branches for 2020. Additionally, we are looking at providing scheduled times for children with sensory issues so they may enjoy the museum without the hardship of excessive noise.

Money: We are a nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational organization and are funded by admissions, individual and corporate donations and grants. For over six years Hands-on House has operated in a deficit which means we have been spending more money than we have been bringing in. Great progress has been made and additional steps are being taken to bring the organization to self-sufficiency by October 2020. Effective October 1, 2019 we will be increasing admission rates and rates for new members. Membership renewal rates will increase as well but we will offer an early renewal period to hold the current rates.

Research: In the coming weeks and months, I will be reaching out to members and others so we can gain a better understanding of your experiences at Hands-on House, how you would like to see it grow, and how we stack up to alternative venues. I hope you will be receptive to my call or email.

Hands-on House is a wonderful place for kids to play and learn. I enjoy hearing stories from parents about their visits when they were kids. Now that we are welcoming the next generation of attendees, we need to continue to find ways to keep things fresh, exciting, inviting, and memorable for kids and adults as well. I welcome your support.

Jim Bland

Executive Director