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This completed the conditions essential to the thorough trial of the plan, nearly the whole city having been satisfactorily assigned. We are not yet, however, assured that the plan is a success. The most that its immediate advocates claim is that it is succeeding. Perhaps, however, this is a commendable example of moderation in claims. That it has been in operation for five years, and that it has not been abandoned or undermined, but rather has been strengthened and extended, is much in its favor. Many “movements” which are heralded as revolutionary in character can claim less. The present report says that in the past year twenty new districts have been taken, making the total number over one hundred, and that in almost every denomination all the churches of importance now participate in this plan. On confident days it seems as if through this organized attack in another generation bestial poverty would be fairly driven from the field, but at present the difficulties of the church district plan are conspicuous. It is not popular with the agents of the society, not so much because it involves infinite detail and because a reference to a church often doubles their labor instead of lessening it, but because they see so often that it means delay and suffering to the poor. The district committees also hesitate to surrender a family in need to the weakness, dilatoriness, or apathy of some churches. A few notes by the agent of one of the district committees illustrate this. In reading them it should be borne in mind that urgent need is relieved at once by the society, with no delay whatever, before the family is referred. Agent called twice and wrote once for reports. One month after being referred was told by church visitor that she intended to call.” “ Agent has called and written for reports. Visitors, all young girls. I have no knowledge of families having been visited.” “In each case visits were made one month after being referred." Reports have been repeatedly promised by pastor. So far as agent knows, families have not been visited.” “Pastor of this church says he understands the needs and work of the district better than anyone else. Charity organization society plan amounts to nothing. No time for reports." It is but fair to add that these could be fully matched by as many notes by the same agent, of wise, prompt care and good visitors.
The conclusion of the matter, in the words of the report, is: Unwise charity is as formidable under this plan as neglect or delay, but unwise charity has existed, is existing, and will exist, unless educated. The test of success of a charity organization society is its power to influence the charitable work of its community. What has been done is so much less than it might be that it often seems less than it is. A century ago it would have been Utopian to conceive of one hundred churches in a city, Catholic, Protestant, and Hebrew,
banded together for a common purpose, and relieving each others' poor.
The report of the New York association for improving the condition of the poor contains interesting statistical data and an account, necessarily condensed, of the various activities of the association: the relief department, fresh-air work, people's baths, Hartley house settlement, Cooper Union labor bureau (recently discontinued), and the committee for boarding infants from the hospital on Randall's Island (conducted jointly with the State Charities Aid Association).
The reasons assigned for closing the labor bureau are given as follows: (1) Improvement of business conditions in the city, lessening the number of the unemployed. While there are still many men out of work, the number is much smaller than when this work was begun. (2) The announcement by some of the intelligence offices that employers can secure help from them without charge. (3) Free labor advertisements published in a daily paper of large circulation. (4) The establishment of a free labor bureau by the state ; also by other philanthropic agencies. One of the objects which the committee has had in view from the first has been the fostering of enterprises that could take up the work and carry it on successfully. (5) The growing belief that the state is able to conduct a free employment office better than a philanthropic society can, because of its wider sphere of influence, its ability to ascertain the needs of different sections of the state, and also its power to secure legislation tending to decrease the evils of the average intelligence office. Inportant steps in this latter direction have already been taken, much-needed laws having been secured since the state bureau was opened. (6) Lack of adequate support to compete with agencies which have an expensive office force, employ canvassers, and insert advertisements calling attention to their work and their available applicants.
What is an associated charities for? The Boston society of that name answers this inquiry in its annual report in a way which will answer equally for a charity organization society or a bureau of associated charities.
According to the directory of charitable and beneficent organizations published by us in 1899, there are in the city some 250 reliefgiving societies, hospitals, and homes, besides many semi-charitable agencies. How is a person in need of help to know where he should apply ; at which of these many doors he should knock?
More often than not the poor person who comes to others for help is lacking in judgment and foresight. When an extra trouble falls upon him he is bewildered, and turns to the nearest means of assistance, however unsuitable or inadequate and far too often passes by in his ignorance the remedy of which he is in need. The best thing for him may be hospital care, or a convalescent home or a temporary home for his children, while the mother is in a hospital, or a loan on moderate terms so as to start again in business, or to place his boy at an industrial school or on a farm under the care of a children's society, or to move his family to the country where work is to be had, -or several of these remedies together. Sometimes he knows what the right thing is, although not how to get it; but more generally he does not know what he requires, and asks for something quite different. Above all, however, he needs an intelligent and interested adviser and friend, who will put him in the way of getting the right assistance; and here comes the opportunity of the associated charities.
Scattered over the city are sixteen district offices. At each is to be found every day, at certain hours, a devoted agent of the society, a person of sympathy, intelligence, painstaking care, infinite patience, and good-will; and who, having knowledge of the manifold possibilities of the city, can obtain the immediate relief by food or fuel, which may be necessary, while plans are being made for the longer future and against the recurrence of distress. Each new agent is trained by a hard course of work and study under experts for her office of “friend in deed.” Behind this paid worker, who visits, investigates, reports, and relieves all pressing suffering at once, is a conference, a body of volunteer visitors, who meet once a week to discuss the cases brought to them, and to plan the right means of helping, whether for a few days or for long years. These volunteers, the actively interested friends of the people in the district, feel the need of counsel and deliberation that they may pursue wisely their work of guiding the lives of those who confess their inability to care for themselves. Not only do these friends weet in full conference weekly, but daily also in sınall groups, so constant are the calls for advice from every side.
To bind together the different groups of helpers, there is the central office, or bureau of exchanges, where the histories of distressed families are kept privately, where information passes continually and confidentially from the different relief societies and individuals to us and to each other. At this office, meetings of the directors are held constantly, and the general plans and principles of the society are worked out. Here the agents meet in council, the secretary conducts classes in the study of charity, and here the work of the whole is unified and directed.
National Conference (1900) of Charities and Correction. The proceedings of the Twenty-seventh National Conference of Charities and Correction, held at Topeka, May 18 to 24, 1900, have just been published. The “ reports from states " in the present volume include
reports from Canada, Mexico and Cuba, as well as from nearly all the states of the union.
There is an increasing tendency toward intensive conferences in the field of charities and correction. While the National Conference, the Prison Congress, the Social Science Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have a useful and important function, there is also a recognized need for nieetings in which questions of local interest may be discussed more intelligently and exhaustively than is possible in the national gatherings. The first state conference has been held this winter in New York, California, Kansas, Missouri, and a movement to inaugurate a conference in Kentucky is started. The bill to create a state board of charities has received an impetus from the conference at Oakland, Cal. The fifth annual state conference was held this year in Illinois, the ninth in Indiana, and the nineteenth in Michigan. In New York, Pennsylvania and other states, there have long been conventions of superintendents of the poor and other public officials, but the newer conferences differ from these conventions in the greater participation of representatives of private charities and of private citizens interested in the charitable work.
The Prevention of the Spread of Consumption.—The crusade against consumption gains headway, but as yet it shows no adequate conception of it enormous task.
The United States Commissioner of Immigration has decided that it is a disease which may subject the patient to quarantine. The state board of health, of Illinois, recommends the building of a state sanitarium. A hospital for incipient cases is advocated in the Legislature of Connecticut. The medical societies have inaugurated a similar movement in Minnesota and California. The New York Legislature threatens to discredit its own commission, appointed a year ago by passing a law compelling the commission to select an entirely unsuitable site for its hospital for incipient cases. Sing Sing prison has been condemned by the prison association of New York and by the state board of health, for the reason among others that to send a convict to that prison is to sentence him to infection from this disease and to unsanitary conditions, which make recovery from it virtually impossible.
A report of the United States marine hospital service, last summer, contained a comparative statement of the mortality from yellow fever and consumption in Havana in the five years, from 1890 to 1894 inclusive. From this it appears that the total deaths from yellow fever were 1,117, the highest number being 398 in 1893. From consumption the total number of deaths was 7,462, and the variations
from year to year were much less than in the case of yellow fever. In other words, in a city where yellow fever was believed to be most prevalent and fatal, it killed only one person, where consumption killed seven.
It is an encouraging sign that not only medical societies, but also charitable conferences in all parts of the world are earnestly discus. sing the subject. The demonstration is complete that the disease is contagious, and in its earlier stages curable. The two federal govvernment hospitals in New Mexico already report remarkable success in the treatment of army and navy patients.
Halting as state action has been, in the matter of appropriations for hospitals for curable cases, houses of rest for advanced cases, colonies for those who can remain nearly self-supporting, and laboratories for the advancement of medical knowledge, even less adequately has private philanthropy solved its share of the joint problem.
In Philadelphia there was organized in 1895 the Free Hospital Society for Poor Consumptives, which is the logical outgrowth of the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Tuberculosis, which has been the model on which similar societies have been organized in other parts of this country and in Europe. The Free Hospital Society has paid board for patients in city hospitals, and when there has been a chance for cure it has sent the patient to a sanitarium in the Adirondacks. Its work has steadily grown, and in December it was supporting fortyfive patients at an outlay of $1,000 a month.
has been raised in small sums from the charitably disposed. This system of maintaining patients in existing hospitals has not been regarded as entirely satisfactory, but it was the best possible under the circumstances. The ultimate aim has been to have a properly equipped city hospital for advanced cases and a sanitarium in the mountains for those who are in the early stages. Dr. Lawrence F. Flick, as president of the Free Hospital Society, issued a special Christmas appeal for funds for the new enterprise.
In New York the Indigent Consumptives' Aid Association has been created for the purpose of illustrating the ultimate method of treatment and the most effective way of curing the disease.” The colonization idea underlying this society differs from the hospital plan in that it will not only remove the patient to the climate most suitable to his condition, but also transplant the associations of his former life by providing a place of abode for all or part of his family, and by pro. viding also suitable occupation. This movement, like that in Pennsylvania, is initiated by physicians. Dr. J. Austin Kelly, of Brooklyn, is president of the society. The Stony Wolde Sanitarium, to be established in the Adirondacks,