APRIL 2, 1948
EN ROUTE TO ENGLAND, Thursday—Three years ago, a New York City community center, built by the National Council of Jewish Women, was turned over to a new board of managers which represented various races and religions, because the neighborhood was changing fast. This center became the Forest Neighborhood House, where an outstanding Negro social worker, George Gregory, Jr., has done a most interesting piece of work in community organization for the general betterment of the whole district. Much more could be done with more financial support.
Recently they issued a booklet, written by one of their boys, in which he tells his "success story." Basil Hart was the son of a Pullman porter and the first boy in a family of nine girls. He might easily have become a delinquent boy, but instead he has now won a scholarship in one of America's best colleges. As he enjoyed the activities at Forest Neighborhood House, he helped his "gang" and younger boys to enjoy them with him.
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I think one of the most touching points in this 17-year-old boy's story is where he mentions that his mother was finally drawn into coming to some of the meetings at the neighborhood house.
The following paragraph also struck me particularly: "In our spare time, a lot of us helped the younger kids. I worked in the nursery because about half of the kids there were fatherless. They need a man around to give them a man's affection."
Mr. Gregory, the director, is evidently a man who knows how to guide boys and to give them a sense of responsibility and importance. He has drawn in the gangs of the neighborhood, turned them into clubs and given them a meeting place. This is something which might well be done in many other cities all over the nation, where we hear more and more of juvenile delinquency and less of methods through which we might prevent delinquency.
In Poughkeepsie, N.Y., there is a neighborhood house called Lincoln Center in which Vassar College has been interested because it helped to start it. Poughkeepsie itself, however, seems much less aware of the needs and advantages of such a center than its citizens should be!
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Recently I read with interest an account of a village, Hudson, Ohio, which had followed the example of Dunkirk, N.Y., and sent $1500 worth of CARE packages to a European village, as well as bundles of clothes and other necessary articles. I congratulate every city and village which undertakes to do work of this kind. Governments cannot do all the humane jobs needed in the world. They must be done by individuals in all of our communities.