While the government shutdown has kept tourists out of many of our national monuments, private organizations like the home of the father of our country remain open for business.

The picturesque estate of George Washington has long been a popular venue to visit while in the D.C. area, but right now it is busier than ever. According to one friendly staffer, Mount Vernon generally hosts around 1,500 visitors a day—but since the government shutdown, it has seen a notable increase.

Interns in The Heritage Foundation’s Young Leaders Program visited Mount Vernon this week and learned that it has been a private non-profit for more than 150 years. According to Mount Vernon’s media associate, Melissa Wood, the estate is proud to be privately funded and run by the oldest historic preservation, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association.

“Before the federal government had ever begun appropriating funds towards the preservation of historic sites, this insightful group of women was saving and restoring Mount Vernon. The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association has never accepted any government funding,” Wood said.

The Mission of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association is to preserve, restore, and manage the estate of George Washington to the highest standards and to educate visitors and people throughout the world about the life and legacies of George Washington, so that his example of character and leadership will continue to inform and inspire future generations.

Luckily for D.C. visitors, this experience is still possible during the government shutdown. Members of the Young Leaders Program were honored to be able to spend the day celebrating the life of one of our nation’s most heroic leaders.

Augusta Cassada is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here