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as natural sources of it in preference to reliance on official relief or even to general relief societies.
Besides, a charity organization society must be in a position to say not merely what not to do, but what to do with A or B or C. Mere negative work, to call hands off from a bad fellow, to cut off material relief from a family which ought not to have it, is the work of a society. But this is only part of its work. It cannot be very effective unless all hands are kept off. To turn a family in need of material relief over to the care of a relief society or a church is wise only when we feel sure that the society or church will relieve promptly and adequately, and will try then to help the family to become independent of relief. To try to get positive results in the decrease of poverty and pauperism by education of young and old, by helping them to get out of old ways and environments which depressed them, that is the greater part of charity organization work, according to its best standards. That is, as you see, something that cannot be done mechanically or at a distance. Whoever is going to treat A or B or C must know A or B or C, and know not only his past, but his present condition, and then must watch and study his future development.
We see, therefore, what we need for our best work,― numbers of persons who will know and watch and work over numbers of other persons, each in need of something. First, we need as many good agents as a society can find and train and afford to keep. But these are only the beginning of what we need, the nucleus of our forces. Now the situation in every community is this: There are a good many persons who are willing to be doing something for others. Some of them will always be busy at something. Most of them work from the churches. It is these persons and the workers in the small circles and societies and the pastors of the churches that the charity organization society must bring to its aid, and must educate to feel that it can, in turn, be of great service to them. How are we best to get and educate and keep volunteer workers? One way is to form boards of volunteers for work in certain districts which meet in any convenient place, and for which the investigations of cases are made by agents sent out from the central office. The other way is to begin with a district agent, who makes all the investigations in the district, and in whose office the board of volunteers meets. Το my mind, the former way, if used at all, should be only a steppingstone to the latter, the more complete district plan.
What great advantages this district plan has! Good volunteer work, under the best of auspices, is hard to get and hard to keep. Our agent is in her district office at certain hours each day. Many workers cannot attend the regular meetings of the board, or they wish advice between meetings, and so they drop in when they can, and talk over their work. This housekeeper wishes some one for an odd job, and turns to her friend, the agent. This clergyman, because the office is in his neighborhood (if for no better motive), comes to ask about such and such families. So the agent comes to know largely the charitable, and those who should be charitable, in her district. More important than all this, the agent knows much of the needy of her district. Each day for hours she sees them, first in her office, and then in their homes. And she knows the district, the store-keepers, the landlords, the police. And her board, when it meets to talk over difficult questions of treatment of A or B, has the benefit of her experience and knowledge of A or B and of their neighborhood.
Valuable as volunteer work is, backward as we shall be if we do not take it and bring out its fullest usefulness, we cannot expect too much of it. Therefore, one of the chief duties of a district agent is the education of her visitors and special workers.
The whole matter boils itself down to this: that right dealing with poverty or even pauperism is dealing with individuals. The records of the past are of value chiefly as the beginning of work for the futThis positive constructive work with individuals, A and B and C, requires intelligent and earnest and sometimes long-continued effort on the part of other individuals. There are many of these other individuals who are willing to try to help their fellows, scattered all through our communities; but most of them do not know how to be most helpful. The charity organization societies can best win these workers to intelligent work, can best bring rich and poor into real helpful co-operation, by neighborhood centres with neighborhood agents.
Some societies have been laying much stress of recent years on the value of relief in work, of provision of work, instead of gifts of material relief for needy persons. Now work-relief, in my judg ment, illustrates very well the statement that there is no wholesale way of dealing with pauperism or poverty. You cannot open a stone-yard or wood-yard, and send to it all able-bodied male resident
applicants for aid. To some it may be a help, to others a harm. So our friendly inns, great advances as they are, will not do much to solve the problem of the homeless man until they add to their work and bath tests (which the tramp will do easily if he cannot live more easily) some effort to deal personally with each comer,—to find out where he ought to be, and then to treat him accordingly. The chief value of work-relief is its educational power, to be given just like material relief, under careful observation. Everywhere we learn the same lesson: we must deal with individuals, and in many ways, and sometimes for long times. Let us see to it that our societies do not put too much of their money and the interest of their managers into institutions.
There is one danger in the district plan of organization, or a danger that has probably been discovered in some cities: that of lack of uniformity in work; district boards, under the same organization, sometimes ignorant of or neglectful of the fundamental principles of the organization. We shall all watch with interest the result of the district plan which one of our cities, Buffalo, is trying,— the plan of assigning all the work in a certain neighborhood to a certain church. This plan throws a very great responsibility on church pastors and volunteer workers. Experience in some cities has shown that you may issue circulars to them, and even get them to general meetings, to bid them follow the general methods of the charity organization society in their work; but that is not enough to insure reasonable uniformity of work. There will be, I fear, at least a loss of good work for the poor, and a loss of great opportunities of education of the well-to-do, unless we get the churches in a district to send their representatives to meet with other workers in a district board, the number of boards being so few that meetings of each can be visited by skilled workers from the central management of the society, and that each can have the invaluable services of a district agent, trained under and responsible to the general secretary of the society.
The best methods to follow in our work are, of course, those by which we shall most quickly and surely reach our ends. A few neighborhood offices with good district boards, which are centres of good work and of educational influences, are worth more than any number of boards which may be doing more harm than good, and fail to spread right ideas of true charity. For, after all, the charity organization movement means education.
THE VALUE AND THE DANGERS OF INVESTI–
BY EDWARD T. DEVINE,
GENERAL SECRETARY CHARITY ORGANIZATION SOCIETY, NEW YORK CITY.
Investigation has been called one of the four pillars of organized charity, the other three being registration, co-operation, and friendly visiting. But the enumeration is peculiarly unfortunate. These four features of organized charity do not by any means stand upon a footing of equal importance. If there are any representatives of our societies that are in danger of looking upon investigation and registration as ends in themselves, or as having any virtue whatever, except as means of securing for those in need the assistance of others able to help them, I hope that such persons will be overwhelmed by the righteous indignation of any who may appear here in the name of relief societies, since the constant rebuke of the wisest within the fold has not accomplished it.
I only repeat the teachings of the great body of my instructors and fellows when I declare emphatically that the sole purpose of the investigation and the permanent record is the increase, and not the decrease, of charity,- the increased expenditure of money and of time in the service of the unfortunate, the rescue of a larger number of children from dependency, and even the downright material relief in food, fuel, clothes, medicines, shelter, and money, of an increased proportion of the human beings who, to invert our official phrase, need relief rather than discipline.
That there are still such persons, in spite of our lavish generosity, does not admit of question.
The investigation is made for the purpose of finding these persons. The attempt is to determine whether there is any real assistance that can be given, and, if so, just what it is and where it should come from. As a result of the inquiry, it is sometimes ascertained that real relief is impossible, that there are no elements of promise whatever in the situation, and that the bare physical necessities which humanity prompts us to supply in all cases, however hopeless, are either already met or will be attended to, if we keep our hands
off, either by relatives and others, who are now trying to shift a natural burden, or by the public authorities, to whom such cases belong.
make are always diThe investigation is
But the inquiries which it is necessary to rected toward the future rather than the past. made not for the purpose of deciding whether the persons investigated are worthy of assistance or whether they are deserving, as the common expression is. The Salvation Army has more correctly formulated the question which we try through investigation to answer. Are these applicants of ours ready to work out with us their own regeneration? Can we form some plan which will result in their rescue from dependency, and put it before them definitely for their adoption, assuring them, if we can find any hopeful elements to work upon, of our cordial, fraternal, human interest and aid? If such elements are lacking, if there is no basis of good character, no probability of final success, then we do not assume the responsibility of asking societies or churches or private persons to help, and may even, if our advice is asked, urge them to refrain from blind interference with natural educational agencies until they are ready to substitute others equally effective. What we desire is not that poor families should suffer, but that charity should accomplish its purpose.
This, then, is my first proposition: that the investigation of an applicant for relief is made not for the purpose of labelling him worthy or unworthy, deserving or undeserving, to be helped or not to be helped, but solely for the purpose of ascertaining whether and in what way help can be given.
We receive letters asking if we will please ascertain whether such and such a family is worthy, and I never read such a request without regret that the question has been asked. Who are we, that we should attempt to decide it, at any rate negatively? Sometimes a caller in conversation will bring in the word "worthy" or "deserv ing," doubtfully, as if not exactly accustomed to use it when talking of the neighbors, but as if thinking that no other classification would be quite in place in a charity organization office, just as we halfunconsciously drop into the use of such semi-technical words as "acute" and "chronic," when speaking to a physician, or "believer" and "unbeliever," in a clergyman's presence.
But is it not time for us to let, the public understand that we do