JULY 7, 1949
WESTBROOK, Conn.—When I begin telling about interesting things that are being done in the world, I find that I am constantly receiving from individuals and groups information about new and amazing projects.
For instance, a few days ago there came to me a most interesting story from St. Louis. It is the story of the Volunteer Film Association of St. Louis, which is the story of a very brave young woman.
Marjorie Lang was born in 1903 and died in 1948. She became a shut-in, afflicted with a progressive illness that confined her to a wheel chair after she had begun her medical career. Her own deep disappointment at not being able to live actively made her deeply sympathetic toward all other shut-ins. Her own life was made happier by a devoted family and many friends.
One evening in February 1939, one of her friends, Susan Barnes, who was an occupational therapist, came to show her some vacation pictures she had taken in Mexico. As the film ended, Marjorie Lang said: "How movies bring the world within the four walls; I wish every shut-in could have them."
The idea grew and this was the beginning of the Volunteer Film Association of St. Louis.
Since that day this organization has taken films into hospital wards and into private homes for old and young. Marjorie Lang gave all her waking hours to the direction of the association. Last year she passed on. Her death left the work, which should spread throughout the country, without any executive director.
Now the organization needs money to pay a full-time director and give that director secretarial help. It needs a new headquarters, since the work has outgrown the center which was generously given by the Lang family. It needs more volunteers to secure the films, to preview them, to maintain film equipment, to take them to shut-ins to fulfill the crowded schedule that is made out in the headquarters and, in addition, to do the hundred and one things that must be done in any organization.
This is now a local charity, though it has been recognized by many people who work with physically handicapped children and grown people. Dr. Howard Rusk, associate editor of The New York Times, writes of it in his newspaper. Through his wide experience he knows what it will mean in the way of rehabilitation and morale to the many different types of handicapped people. I hope the idea will spread and gain wider support.
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We left Hyde Park yesterday afternoon and came over to spend two nights in Westbrook with my friend, Miss Esther Lape.
What a difference the rain has made. All the flowers look as though they had been newly bathed and had drunk deep of this unexpected moisture. I hope it extended far across the country, for I hate to see things parched and dying. Many of our early vegetables suffered, but I hope from now on the drought is broken and we can hope for a more equitable distribution of rain and sun.