MAY 12, 1938
WASHINGTON, Wednesday—I flew down to Washington this morning and sat next to a gentleman who introduced himself as a friend of my brother in Schenectady. He, however, worked in the international department of the General Electric Company and had just returned after ten years spent in every part of the world—China, Japan, Africa and the last few years in London.
He was quite thrilled because this was his first airplane trip in the United States, though he had flown in every part of the world. He commented on the comfort of the plane and the excellence of the service and remarked that there were only two trips he could remember taking abroad which compared with this one.
After my arrival at the White House, I caught up on a number of interviews and tried on some very remarkable shoes which make standing for hours a pleasure. At noon, I went to visit a charity called "Opportunity House",," in a very poor section of Washington. A group of women have been trying to start what might be called a settlement house, because of the need they have found among the children of the District of Columbia. Their funds are so limited that, even though they seem to be rendering some service, it is not what I would call meeting the real needs of that part of the city.
For instance, many of the small children from 3 to 5 years of age, who come there in the morning from 10:00 to 12:00, sit down at noon to a lunch of milk and sandwiches. The settlement workers told me that the food they were able to give, often was all the children had during the day. It is quite usual for the children who can obtain milk at home to refuse it because, little as they are, they seem to appreciate they should not take from other children who have nothing at home.
Judging from some of the stories, life is certainly seen under its worst conditions. Two children were deserted by their mother not long ago. Their father was out of work and for a few days they had to be taken care of at "Opportunity House" until their grandmother came and said they could spend the day with her.
One little boy appeared at the door and inquired if they helped people and, when they told him they tried to, he handed them two very weak and thin kittens and said the old tom cat was treating them very unkindly and would they please take them, which they did!
I arrived home at 1:00 o'clock for a luncheon meeting with the Continuing Conference of Federal Youth Serving Agencies. They have made great strides since our last meeting in December and have established councils in 4 new States—Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia. This group shows what cooperation can do, for by meeting once a month they learn what each federal agency has to offer. This information is passed down to the State Councils, who, in turn, pass it down to the County Councils as quickly as they can be organized. This type of coordination of activities is very valuable in preventing overlapping and in obtaining the maximum benefit from all the work of the agencies concerned.