Friendly House Endowment


Friendly House is a settlement house or neighborhood center that has served the community since 1896. As part of the social reform movement or “settlement movement” that spread throughout the United States in the late 1800’s, the settlement houses provided support and resources to neighborhoods and were strong advocates of working from “within” the neighborhoods as opposed to forcing change from the outside. The greatest assets of the neighborhoods were the people themselves and often the greatest need for change was not with the individuals and families but with the environments, providing opportunity, resources, and enrichment.

The settlement workers advocated for all individuals to have the resources to meet the most basic needs, and opportunities for self-development and self-determination. Instead of blaming the individual or determining what was wrong with them, the philosophy of “strengths” and “capabilities” overshadowed a diagnosis model and promoted policies and practices of education, equal opportunity, and environmental or neighborhood services that supported all families and individuals. The collaborate model of partnerships with schools, businesses, churches, and other service agencies brought needed services to the neighborhoods. The NAACP, Visiting Nurses Association, and Head Start were some of the programs that were started in the settlement movement.

Over one hundred years later, Friendly House is still grounded in its earliest foundation of serving the neighborhood and strengthening the community by offering programs and services that will offer enrichment and opportunity. Friendly House believes that each individual they serve is full of potential and have unique capacities and strengths. Friendly Houses uses the term “enrich” in their mission statement to highlight the opportunities they have to build on a foundation or richness that already exists.

Friendly House believes the strengths of all of their programs and services are built on the framework of working “with” families and individuals not “for” them. By locating these services (from the very young to the very old) within the neighborhoods, the accessibility to all members supports the concept of community and family. Friendly House provides programs and services from preschool age throughout senior services, which supports the family based approach to service. Some of the programs include, Preschool, After school, Discovery Junction, TeenCenter, Summer Daycare, Adolescent Day Program, Seniors, Computer and Ceramic Classes. Some of the services include Family Services (food pantry, holiday assistance, transportation, educational scholarships, camperships), Kessler Clinic, Tax Assistance and Well Elderly Clinic. While some of the programs have a fee structure based on family size and income, none of the programs determine eligibility for service based on income. Families and individuals choose to use the programs and services. Most of the programs and services are offered at Friendly House. Some programs are taken to strategic neighborhood locations like the Buchanan School after school and summer program (Discovery Junction) and Fillmore summer program (another Discovery Junction site).

Friendly House utilizes the service of many other organizations to enrich the programs building on a collaborative model of using the expertise of others instead of recreating a program. Some of the unique partnerships are with: Davenport Parks and Recreation, Davenport Community School District, Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency, Great River Bend Area Agency on Aging, Putnam Museum, Bettendorf Family Museum, Scott County Extension Services, Marycrest International University, and St. Ambrose University.  

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Robert and Hazel Cowles knew they wanted to support the community's needs long into the future, so they turned to the Community Foundation to meet their charitable goals.
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