NOVEMBER 22, 1941
WASHINGTON, Friday—I took a long walk yesterday morning and, after that, a swim, the first exercise that I have had in so long that I had almost forgotten what it felt like to be physically tired. The weather has been like summer, but today there is a little change. I hope it will stay colder from now on, because I think it is much healthier at this season of the year.
I have little to record except that I spent the morning at the Office of Civilian Defense. The more I visit different parts of the country and the more reports I get, the deeper is my realization that men and women volunteers throughout the nation are thinking of the work they can do for their country largely in terms of "war work."
They do not seem to realize that perhaps the greatest defense work done in any nation, is to build up your own community to the point where that community will give to every man, woman and child a life worth living and, therefore, worth defending.
This means that, instead of leaving our social agencies to cope with all the problems of community life, through their trained workers, we should take an active interest in these problems and should offer our services as volunteers to make the work which our agencies do more effective. We might make it possible to cover a wider field than they are usually able to cover with their restricted budgets.
Eventually, the use of volunteers will probably bring greater contributions to the social agencies and make it possible to employ more paid workers because, as the volunteers see the needs, they will be willing to contribute.
There are many resources for use in every community which lie idle part of the time because of the lack of personnel to use them. For instance, an official of a big city wrote me only today and said that his city and school playgrounds were used only part time. They did not dare increase the city space because they did not have money enough to employ paid personnel and the board of education was in the same position.
At the moment, it is most important to provide as much supervised recreation for children as possible, because in many cases their parents are needed out of the home for longer hours than before the emergency existed. It seems to me that trained personnel could train volunteers and then supervise them, thereby making it possible to increase the playgrounds.
This whole question of how to contribute to civilian defense must become a personal question and lead to as much active participation as possible.