William Way Gears Up for an Ambitious Year of Firsts

There was an undeniable sense of excitement in the air at the William Way Center last evening when, at the public Board of Directors’ meeting, members of the community were invited to hear some of the upcoming events and plans for Philly’s storied LGBT community center.

“I’m very proud about the work over the last month,” said the Center’s Executive Director Chris Bartlett. Of note, Bartlett and the Board were most interested in the correlation between the opening of the John C. Anderson LGBT-friendly senior apartments and the ability for the Center to offer shared programming with the apartment complex. “Senior programs get me passionate,” said Bartlett. “These are the people who created gay liberation. It is important to provide the best services we can.”

It was also noted that traffic in the Center is up since residents began moving in in January. “Residents are coming over to use resources at the Center,” said Candice Thompson, the director of center services.

Thompson also shared some of the other noteworthy projects coming to the Center this year. Visitors can expect an LGBT juried art show in May, followed by an exhibit of work from members of The Attic Youth Center. In addition, the Center will be holding a career fair sponsored by SageWorks, a Big Queer Book Sale, a Dyke March Open House, a Pride Fit health screening, and a Spring Fling Pet Adoption (for more information on these events, see the William Way website).

The real buzz however, is around a lineup of ambitious, first-time events for William Way, including the nation’s first Queer Jazz Festival and an exhibit at the National Constitution Center that coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Reminder Day Protests, which, according to Bartlett, set the stage for Stonewall. The exhibit will coincide with a July 4, 2015 reenactment of Reminder Day on Independence Mall.

However, despite the host of interesting projects planned through the next year at William Way, the Board of Directors made very clear that individual fiscal support is a major focus to continue this robust level of programming.

“Fundraising is key to what we need to do in all non-profits,” said Board Co-Chair Laurie Ward. Luckily, the Center recently installed new donor-giving software, Click and Pledge, which allows potential supporters to set up recurring donations. Bartlett emphasized the impact of even the smallest fiscal contributions.

“However you give it to us makes a huge difference,” he said. “Individuals do make a difference.”

In addition, Development Director Michael Pomante presented encouraging information about several corporate sponsorship opportunities that the Center is investigating, including a $10,000 grant from Wells Fargo for senior programming. The Center already has employee resource partnerships with a host of other local companies, including TD Bank, Comcast, and PECO.