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not make any such classification at all, and that our decision as to our own action in any given case is determined partly by the resources available, but chiefly by the attitude of the applicants. toward their own future? Whatever their past may have been, if there is present, helpable need, it is our privilege to aid in supplying it. The investigation is for the purpose of diagnosing the need. My second proposition follows directly from the first: that the investigation cannot be too thorough or extensive or painstaking or the record too careful, and that money spent judiciously upon an inquiry the aim of which is to destroy the cause of the distress is a profitable investment.
If our purpose is to determine whether or not we are to provide food for a few days or weeks, we may content ourselves with very limited inquiry, supplemented, perhaps, by a work test. We have only one mistake to guard against,— namely, giving to those that have already and are deceiving us; and it is possible that trained visitors with sharp eyes will learn to discover such deceit on the spot, though none would admit more quickly than these visitors themselves that, even to their eyes, appearances are often deceitful.
But, if now we seriously undertake the more difficult constructive work of conquering the pauperism of individual families through the process of restoring family ties that have been sundered, strengthening a church or social bond that is weakened, furnishing the liberal assistance of a permanent pension or an admission fee to a home, securing employment, providing for the care and education of children,—all of which things are a regular part of the daily routine of our district work,— then it is perfectly obvious that we must know more about people than the simple answer to the question, Are they suffering or not? That is all that we need to know in order to decide whether immediate relief of some sort is to be secured, and it is entirely legitimate to insist that this urgent physical need shall be satisfied without waiting for the results of any extended investigation. I do not in any way disparage temporary relief of physical distress.
It is necessary; it is Christian; it is not necessarily demoralizing; it can be done without extended investigation, though not safely without trained experts, co-operation with other charitable agencies, and careful discrimination. Temporary relief is an incidental feature of organized charity, but it is not the whole of it.
The thorough organization of the possible relief of individual cases is our chief task; and, unless we are prepared to see cases through or can assume that those for whom the inquiry is made will do so, we are not justified in finding out very much about them. Good case work involves much thankless labor. Very often neither the general public nor the applicant will see what we are driving at, and the impatience of the one will sometimes be matched by the resentment of the other. And even at the end we do not have any great array of statistics or easily produced concrete evidences of the success of our efforts. Nevertheless, it is fruitful, if faithfully done; and it is worth doing, more, perhaps, than any other social or educational or philanthropic service that can engage the enthusiasm and the devotion of man. It brings the organized charity worker into real contact with every form of charitable effort. Church, school, and home, hospital, asylum, fresh-air institutions, nursing, dieting, and reforming agencies, all may be and all are utilized; and the sum of their contributions, in one sense, is the sum total of the work done for the family.
The charity organization society seeks none of the credit that belongs to other positive agencies of beneficence. Its workers, as individuals, may give money or provide facilities for charity or reformation or training. The society may even, as incidental features of its work, support for a time certain agencies of its own that it believes to be otherwise lacking in the charitable system.
But its chief service, I repeat, is not in these things, but simply in standing by its families as their friend, to represent them in all legitimate demands, to guard them against unnecessary assistance, to reconcile them with the community, industrial, religious, and social, speaking in their behalf as the need arises from time to time in a plea for new institutions or the enlargement of old ones, or against what we believe to be hurtful, but always having chiefly in mind, and with the most concentrated and intense energy securing, the specific remedy for the present helplessness of these separate families.
I need not have said so much in behalf of what we call technically case work: I might have taken your appreciation of its necessity for granted. But I wanted to emphasize the point that, if this is to be done at all, and because it is to be done, full and thorough investigation is indispensable.
Here I rest my whole case. The investigation is made, if my repetition has not become already ad nauseam, not to determine worthiness, but only to find out whether any plan to enable the applicant to work out his own regeneration can be formulated.
To increase the chances of success in working out the plan thus formulated, full information concerning all the possible sources of relief, the earning capacity of the members of the family, their necessary expenses, and similar matters, is indispensable.
It has been suggested that a work test may be substituted for investigation, accepting in our social scheme without further inquiry all who show a willingness to work out their own regeneration. The work test is an excellent thing, but it is not a substitute for knowledge, if the object is the adaptation of the remedy to the specific disease. It is not sufficient to create temporary employment on a charitable basis. What you aim at is the reabsorption into ordinary industrial and social life of those who for some reason have snapped the threads that bound them to the other members of the community. A general social scheme may easily become a hindrance instead of a means to that end. It makes the problem sound simpler and easier than it is. Especially is this true of all those schemes that give a prominent place to the farm colony as the chief means of regeneration. One of the best evidences of this is that, in the farm colony of the Salvation Army in England, the superintendent is continually obliged to hire agricultural laborers at ordinary prices for any work of special importance. The same thing is true of our own woodyard, work-rooms, and 'laundry. Neither men nor women rise easily and naturally and as a matter of course through the different grades of work to fill the permanent places even within the institutions. At the wood-yard some veritably incurable tramps are found who would willingly stay for two or three days in the week, doing cheerfully all the work that is exacted, and then for the remaining four or five days of the week resuming their vagabond life, drinking and loafing, to return regularly, if permitted, for their bath and disinfection and physical recuperation, so as to be in good condition for another spree at the end of their rest. Such experiences do not throw doubt upon the value of a work test, but they emphasize the fact that it remains a work test only, and is not in itself a sufficient remedy for pauperism. There is no general remedy; but there are individual remedies, and their first requisite is knowledge of the individual needs. And the
way to secure this is by investigation, however much we deplore the necessity for it.
What about the possible dangers? There are instances on record in which inquiries made in the tenement house where the families live have revealed for the first time that they have asked for assistance. Inquiries of employers or former employers or relatives or persons. whose names have been given as references have turned out badly for the applicants, revealing their destitution and setting gossip afloat.
Against these are to be set the equally undoubted—and, so far as our experience goes, more frequent — instances in which such visits have resulted in direct relief, though this was not their purpose. Estranged relatives have many times been reconciled in the course of the investigation. Parents or brothers or more distant relatives who have held stubbornly aloof have allowed their resentment to melt away when they realized that waywardness has brought suffering, and that the one who had been an outcast is now dependent upon the charity of strangers. In at least two instances during the past winter there resulted, directly from our investigation, marriage between two cohabiting persons. Perhaps it is rejoined that the voluntary assistance or other desirable outcome in some cases cannot be regarded as an offset for the positive injury in others. This is true, but both must be taken into account in our estimate of the value of investigations in a general system of charitable relief.
Injury to personal reputation might arise either from a bungling, inconsiderate, stupid method of investigation, which surely all societies may hope in time to eliminate, or from the discovery of damaging facts, which the investigator will reveal only sufficiently to secure the necessary confirmation of them. The majority of the cases which have been brought to my personal notice, in which families were alleged to have suffered hardship from the investigation, are cases in which the original statements of the applicants when asking for help have been shown to be false, the need less than was represented, or the difficulty one that food and fuel and money would not remedy.
I would suggest that we attempt to overcome the possibility of injury by directing that investigators avoid, so far as possible, visits of inquiry to present employers, or in the house in which applicants reside, giving preference always to references at more distant places and to former residences; that visitors inform applicants in all in
stances of any intended visits or letters to relatives; and that they explain before obtaining any confidential information that they come from the charity organization society, so that we may not be open in any case to the charge of obtaining information under false pretences. But, above all, we must rely upon a steady improvement in the personnel of the corps of investigators through the best possible. selection of new workers and the most efficient training that it is possible to give. I mean not merely a training in method, in devices for economizing time and securing results, but also an elevation in our standard of work, a development of the charitable ideal, and a clearer definition of the end which the investigation has in view.
With the investigation in the hands of a competent, trained, sympathetic but not impulsive visitor, who is constantly thinking of the interests of the applicant, carefully considering whether this question and that is likely to prove harmful in any possible way, there is very little probability that harm will result, and very great probability, intelligent relief work subsequently being presupposed, that great good will result.
FRIENDLY VISITING AS A SOCIAL FORCE.
ABSTRACT OF A PAPER BY CHARLES F. WELLER, ENGLEWOOD DIS-
[Before presentation of the paper a map of Chicago and an enlarged sociological map of the Englewood district were exhibited. The latter showed the location of 1,384 families registered by the district bureau, and of 310 friendly visitors. It also located all the saloons, churches, schools, public institutions, club and lodge centres, social settlement, police station, bureau's forty-acre vegetable gardens for the poor, bureau's work-room for women, work-test for homeless men, and the,district office of the Bureau of Associated Charities: Neighborhoods especially given over to Holland, Swedish, Italian, or colored people, were indicated. Distinctions between business and residence streets were also marked. Factories and other employment centres were shown.]
“As a social force" suggests extent. The effect reaches not isolated individuals only, but a group, a society. It suggests a certain