MARCH 28, 1953
NEW YORK, Friday—During the past two days I have attended two very interesting events.
The first of these was the dedication of the new factory of Altro Health and Rehabilitation Services, Inc.
This is really an extraordinary plant, which was erected by and named after Mr. Frederick Stein, who at the age of 35 retired as a banker. He had decided he had made all the money he needed, and would devote the rest of his life to good deeds. This particular factory is one of his pet projects. It turns out quality uniforms for restaurants, hotels and hospitals, and it does a large business.
The workers are patients who have left sanitariums where they have been recovering from either tuberculosis or some form of cardiac disturbance or some emotional difficulty. A doctor and a nurse are in constant attendance and the patients are closely supervised to make sure they do not work too long.
Some of them work for an hour and a half in the morning and an hour and a half in the afternoon. When they reach the point where they can work six hours a day, some of them can be discharged to resume their usual lives and occupations, but many of them are not discharged until they are working a full eight-hour day.
They all learn to make uniforms. The only charitable part of the undertaking is in connection with those who are still obliged to work short hours. They are given, in addition to the union rates for the time they work, what money is needed to meet their own needs and the needs of their families, but as soon as they reach the point where they can earn enough to do this the charity comes to an end.
In the workrooms this looks like any other well-lighted, good factory, but upstairs lounges are comfortably furnished. And on the roof there are rows of deck chairs where every worker has his own blanket so that in the leisure hours he can lie and rest in the sun.
Also, the restaurant is probably a little more carefully supervised than it might be in an ordinary factory. This is really a wonderful place and something that is much needed to bridge the gap between the sanitarium and more normal living.
The other interesting event took place at the new Hamilton House.
Those who know the East Side will remember the old Hamilton House, which was a little red-brick house that served the needs of the children of the neighborhood. It is practically falling down now and has been condemned. The new quarters, just about a block away, are incorporated into one of the new Alfred E. Smith apartment houses. There is plenty of space and air and sunshine on two floors—a good day-care center with activities of every kind for every age of youngster.
The old house had warmth and coziness that may be hard to duplicate in these modern surroundings, but there will be more facilities in the new place and I think better work can be done.
Hamilton House was celebrating its 50th anniversary and was expressing its gratitude to those who had helped. Henry Street Settlement, as usual, was among the many that had been helpful in the past, and I was happy to see both Miss Hall and Miss Harris of the Settlement in the audience.
It is good to see progress being made on the East Side, and this better housing must have a good effect on the lives of the people.