FEBRUARY 12, 1945
WASHINGTON, Sunday—The meeting of the United Service Organizations Women's Committee on Friday brought out the fact that on the whole we really know very little about what the civilian men and young girls who come to Washington to work in different government agencies really need to make life here more worthwhile. The agencies say the turnover compares very favorably with the turnover in the average large industry. Nevertheless they would like to cut it down. The jobs are important. If the work doesn't get done here, the results are far-reaching.
Certain difficulties encountered during this period by those who work for the government are obvious. Housing is a problem. Salaries which may seem large before they come to Washington dwindle after they get here. Everyone is busy and has little time for new acquaintances. Everything the stranger does is more or less difficult, whether it is shopping or eating, attending movies or getting one's hair done.
The main reason for giving up their work is poor health. Poor health can cover a multitude of things. When one lady finally suggested that what we needed was more people in every department who really gave newcomers a feeling that they were interested in them as individuals and that they were ready to listen to anything they had to say, I could not help thinking that she had probably hit the nail on the head. Such people are hard to find, however!
On Saturday I went to the Children's hospital to go through the polio ward, where 34 children are recovering from last summer's epidemic. Then I went to a reception and meeting at the club house belonging to the Negro Women's Council.
In the evening the Disabled American Veterans service officer students of the American University class came to talk over veterans' rehabilitation.
Today is a fairly quiet day, though we have a few people lunching with us and a fairly large group from various military hospitals coming in this afternoon. Among the group will be 25 members of the First Combat Infantry band, composed of wounded servicemen returned from overseas who are making a tour of the United States to play for bond sale performances and military hospitals. Many of them have the Purple Heart.
Mrs. O. P. Barnett of Winslow, Indiana, has sent in an idea that I think may be rather useful. She could not think what to do with old handbags or large purses which were still usable though no longer looking their best. She decided to give them to Greek relief, but filling each one with things that any woman would find useful—soap, thread, needles, absorbent cotton, small bottles of vaseline, wash cloths, handkerchiefs, stockings and any other little things which she could find. She says that they were accepted with great joy and went over with the stacks of clothing which were collected.