MARCH 19, 1958
NEW YORK—This month of March, weather-wise, is like all the other months of March, with snow lying on my little backyard garden again last week. But, to my joy, on Monday I saw some little green sprouts, and having them in New York City makes me think I may find a snowdrop or two the next time I go to Hyde Park, which I hope will be next Sunday.
The month of March for us in New York has a special meaning, however, since it has been proclaimed as "Neighborhood Houses Month." It is the first nationwide observance, but to us who have observed this month twice before and, of course, to other cities which have done the same, this nationwide observance gives the week an even greater importance.
We have learned through the observance to know our settlement houses, which are really neighborhood meeting places and which draw together the varied populations of the community around them.
During this month there will be inter-settlement dances, art exhibits, window displays, concerts. Much will be done to acquaint the various settlements with programs carried on in different localities and to bring people closer together.
There are probably many people in our great cities who are not aware that these neighborhood houses even exist, yet these houses make it possible for people to know each other and become helpful friends in their own neighborhoods. Every neighborhood settlement house needs the cooperation and support of all the people in the neighborhood.
There is a long history in back of some of the neighborhood houses, and some of the most beloved and finest citizens of our city have lived and served in them.
To many people, Lillian Wald's name will always remain a beacon in the understanding of our neighbors and the early development of New York's Henry Street Settlement. Mrs. Sinkovich also meant a great deal to the neighborhood around Greenwich House.
The Henry Street tradition is carried on today by Helen Hall, one of the people who, like Stanley M. Isaacs, will have a high place in the annals of the City of New York for the community service they have performed.
I have always been grateful to a Settlement House on Rivington Street which, when I was a young woman, taught me many lessons, just by giving me a chance to rub shoulders with my neighbors. And I am quite sure that my uncle, Theodore Roosevelt, would never have had as good an understanding of the City of New York had not Jacob A. Riis been a great influence in his life, as he was in the life of his neighborhood.
Just because this month reminds us of the work of the neighborhood houses and of the people who have meant so much through their work in these houses, I am happy that this observance is becoming nationwide.