OCTOBER 11, 1941
NEW YORK, Friday—Tomorrow, October 11, the Young Men's Christian Associations throughout the country will be celebrating the birthday of George Williams, who founded the organization. To me, the work the YMCA does, year in and year out, in small towns and in big cities, in giving boys and young men a place to meet where they can have healthful recreation and companionship, is one of the valuable contributions to the young of our country.
The fact that this program is carried on with a background of religious interest and influence adds to the confidence which many people have when their boys go away from home to a strange place.
This society started in England in 1844. It soon attracted the attention of American visitors. In 1851, the year of the Great London Exposition, some of these visitors returned to our country and founded the organization in Montreal, Canada, and Boston, Mass. Today there are 1,244,410 members in the United States alone. The YMCA is one of the organizations cooperating in United Service Organizations to provide recreation for young men in areas adjacent to the camps. In fact, there are few parts of the world in which the YMCA does not have some representative.
Criticisms have been levelled at the personnel and at the program at various times. That is inevitable—and probably very helpful, because criticism spurs any organization to do better work.
Yesterday morning I received at the White House the ladies who came with the "Fight For Freedom" committee; caught a plane for New York City; lunched at the Rockefeller Institute with Dr. Alfred Cohn; did some shopping, and had a long talk with Mrs. William Brown Meloney. She is a marvel to me, and I was overjoyed to find her looking so well and surrounded with work.
Miss Viola Ilma, of the Young Men's Vocational Foundation, came in to talk to me about starting a branch of her organization in Los Angeles, and I think this may be the beginning of groups in other parts of the country who will concern themselves with finding jobs for the boys who have been in reformatories. This is essential to real rehabilitation.
This morning I left for Troy, N.Y., by train, to take part in the twenty-fifth anniversary celebration of Russell Sage College.