July 29. 1901
To the Citizens
of Colorado Springs
of the Twenty-first Century.
I am to write you across the wide expanse of a century of the charity organizations of our city, as they exist today; including not only what is actually being done, but, also, the plans of contemplated expansion as well; thus conveying to you what our largest ideas of public charity are.
All the churches and fraternal organizations of the city do more or less charity work within the limits of their own membership; and considerable money is spent by them in that way during the year.
But the only charity organization that is represented of the city as a whole, is that known as The Associated Charities: - the others being in no proper sense organized charities as now generally understood.
The Associated Charities of Colorado Springs was organized January 20. 1899, with a board of twenty four directors.
I now proceed to give certain fundamental principles and some of the details of the workings of this society.
First: - No relief is given without investigation of the character, circumstances and resources of the applicant. In cases of emergency, of course, temporary relief is given at once, and investigation follows.
The object of this investigation is to prevent impostures; to avoid duplication of charity, and, assuming the case is genuine, to ascertain what is best to be done for the permanent help of the needy; and what indirect means are available in dealing with the case.
For instance are there any relatives within reach able and willing to assist: - can suitable work be found by which the family may be made self-sustaining: - are they connected with a church or a fraternal organization: - are there any associations of the family prejudicial to the well being of the family as a whole or in part that can be eliminated: or are there any parasites hanging on, living on the bounty of the charitably disposed?
In sickness, the patient may have to be sent to a lower altitude, instead of keeping him here to become a permanent public charge. Or removal to a hospital may be necessary: and sometimes we have to send them home to die.
It may be that, the cause of the trouble is in the home itself due in the main, to other causes than lack of money or sickness, and in such case a little personal interest on the part of a friendly visitor of tact and grace, may be of more value than any money help that could be given.
In a word, we diagnose the case with reference to the final outcome of the treatment to be given.
With charity committees in the churches and the fraternal organizations, all working independently with or without investigation, it necessarily follows that more or less duplication of aid occurs. In one instance, a woman had five different sources to which she went for aid, and at the same time had children able to support her. In another case, a sick man was drawing from the charity fund of three organizations and yet had $600.00 on deposit in a local bank.
The Associated Charities works to co-ordinate the various charity agencies of the city in the interest of economy and to avoid duplication. We do not want to merge them into one organization, because that would destroy the individuality of specific agencies. There is a certain value in specific charity agencies when the work is done intelligently and in cooperation.
But when, for any reason or no reason, the work is done without regard to what is being done by other agencies, then it is bound to be man or less pernicious, however tender the sentiment or laudable the motive may be.
We keep a daily register in tabulated form, of cases reported to us: - copy of which is enclosed.
Any representative of a charity society may peruse this register, and ascertain if any of their cases are being cared for by us.
We also keep a card record of each case; which constitutes a history of the family or individual so far as we may have had to do with them.
It will be seen that this central office is intended to serve as a clearing house for all charity agencies in the city. Several of the churches and fraternities have already recognized the value to them of this arm of service.
But others are too narrow or too ignorant of the problem as it stands today, to appreciate the great and christlike work it is destined to accomplish.
Anyone who has had experience in or any knowledge of the charity work of churches and fraternities, knows how recklessly and sentimentally much of it is done,: the tendency of which is to pauperize the recipient.
Forms of Relief
We think it unwise to give money outright; excepting in rare and exceptional cases.
We give orders for groceries, coal, and such other necessaries as may be useful, and the delivery man is not supposed to know a charity order from any other.
We at times pay or guarantee a month rent, but never pay any arrears. All rent is paid either direct, to the landlord, or through some one who will see to it, that, the money is not used for any other purpose.
Sometimes we find a family living in furnished rooms at, to them, a ruinous rent. In such cases we have helped them on their feet, by providing a little furniture to start them in housekeeping; and with one exception, we have made no mistake in doing so. At other times, the parties have preferred to buy for themselves, if they could pay for it by installments: - in such cases we have guaranteed payment, and in nearly every instance have had to pay the bill: - these are the would-be, better class, who are above taking "charity."
Loans have been granted, with and without security. Here again caution is necessary, as the borrower often flatters himself that, it is more self-respecting to borrow without any probability of his ever being able to pay, than to accept "charity."
In dealing with hospitals and similar institutions, we pay for service rendered: the case must be one sent by us, and we pay a stipulated rate per diem; we do not rate or appropriate a lump sum to any institution to be used at their discretion, and in this we differ from our neighbors in Denver and Pueblo. We control our own expenditures and pay only for what we get.
Our sources of revenue are: public subscriptions; an appropriation out of the city treasury of $1500.00 a year and profits from the Helping Hand Wood Yard. Our accounts are so kept that the classified receipts and expenditures may be ascertained at a glance.
We aim to cover the entire field of public charity; subject of course to the adequacy of our means: - so that no case of suffering poor shall go unattended to; (according to our best judgment) regardless of the cause or the prevailing conditions. Let it be understood that, we do not always deal with the case out of our own fund.
Certain cases are chargeable to the county by statutory provision; others are referred to churches to which they belong; and yet others to fraternal organizations and labor unions.
We do not send the applicants to these various organizations and let them manage as best they can. We take up the case with the parties upon whom the obligation rests, & if they cannot or will not do what we think necessary, then we attend to it: and hold on to the case in any event, until it is disposed of to the best of our ability.
We are able to relieve a good many, by procuring half rate tickets for the sick, who have to leave the city for various reasons. This entails considerable work, as the Railroad companies will grant no half rate privilege to anyone, without a written order from us; which to them is a guarantee that the case has been investigated.
Large quantities of cast off clothing are sent us, from some of the best houses in the city; and thus we are enabled to afford considerable aid, in the matter of clothing, without touching our treasury.
Mode of procedure
This is our mode of procedure in an ordinary case,: - As soon as possible the Registrar makes a personal visit tot he home; gets into a friendly conversation with the inmates, and, in an indirect way, gathers all the information necessary to a full diagnosis of the trouble. The record is made on the card at the office, then the manager talks it over with registrar, get her opinion & together they decide what is best to be done.
The decision is entered on the Record Card, and, if the case is likely to be prolonged, the manager makes his notes on the card under head of "suggested treatment." As the case develops, the facts are recorded on the card. Once a week, a committee of three, called the Case Committee, meets to review the cases, approve what has been done, or otherwise, and advises as to what further shall be done.
In giving relief, we invariably try to devise means of employment, for such as are able to work. To this end, we have the Helping Hand Wood Yard; where any man, out of work and stranded, may find work for a few days: - sufficient to cover cost of three meals a day and a bed. He may also earn by extra work, clothing and, when considered desirable, transportation to a neighboring city.
This is an excellent test of the worthiness of the applicant; and as a consequence the professional hobo gives us a wide berth. There is therefore no excuse for begging; hence, the police pick up the vagrants and give them the healthful exercise of the rockpile. No one has a profounder sympathy for unfortunate working men, than I have; and, believing that, all such, are entitled to humane treatment, we have now secured a fifteen years' lease of the old county jail, 10 W. Vermijo St. at a rental of $1.00 a year; -- There we feed and sleep the men who work at the Wood Yard: (-we very rarely pay in cash). Every man has to take a bath before he goes to bed, and his clothing is placed in the fumigating closet for the night.
We do not give any one accommodation at this house, (which we call "The City Hotel") for pay. The Salvation Army, in some places, tho. not here, - provides cheap lodgings at ten cents a night; but this we will not do; for it encourages the lazy and criminal element to loaf around town, and gives the hobo an excuse for begging a dime for a bed,: - sometimes begging it from an army lass at that. Our plan makes it entirely unnecessary and inexcusable for any man to go abegging, even for a bed; and as I have said, it serves as a test of a man's worthiness: - a man who is able to work and will not, is a proper subject for police attention and rock pile treatment.
Occasionally we have a man who is sick and unable for the time being, to work at all; and in that case, we give him temporary accommodation, provided always, that, the county or city physician certifies to his sick condition. Frequently the professional tramp produces sores on his arms and legs, as a means of appeal to the tender hearted; this he does with an acid, and is what the police call "jiggers." They try to impose on us in this way, but we immediately refer them to this physician, and that ends it.
At present we have provision for men only at "The City Hotel," but plans are in preparation, and will be carried out in a few weeks so that we shall be able to provide for women and children also. A room will also be set apart as head quarters for a charity nurse, whom we intend to employ permanently.
In addition, our plans include a hand laundry, a sewing room, and a diet kitchen. The laundry is to answer a double purpose: to provide a certain amount of work for a class of women, of whom we have not a few; and a training school for high class laundry work, such as a woman can do at her own home. The diet kitchen is also intended as a training school, and to enable us to furnish suitable food for the sick poor. This we regard as the nucleus of a School of Domestic Science. If possible, we want to add right away, a department of Industrial Art such as high class artificial flower making.
Home visiting is a most important part of our work, but we experience great difficulty in getting the right kind of women to do the work systematically and continuously. While we deem it prudent to develop on these lines with caution; (because we find so many who are ready to take up such work as a fad, only to drop it when the newness of the thing has passed away) we nevertheless, consider the helpfulness of a real friendly home visitor an essential factor to the completest [?] success. Take, for instance, a chronic case of family degeneracy and consequent poverty; and observe how complex is the problem. The request is for material aid, and being an immediate necessity it is promptly given: but that is not all, and without a day's delay, a home visitor should be sent there; - not as from the charity office: - indeed she should not hold out any hope of financial aid from her or through her by reason of any connection she may have with a relief society. Her duty then, is, to get in personal touch with the whole family if at all possible; study the causes of trouble and seek to influence them in such a way as to help them to help themselves out of their condition.
It may be necessary to move the family from one neighborhood into another: to find employment for such members of the family as can work: family jars may have to be smoothed over: wayward children may have to be taken in hand: drunkenness & other forms of dissipation may have to be dealt with; and last, but by no means least, religious obligations must be emphasized. An up-to-date visitor will hold on to such a case for weeks and months, despite all the discouragements naturally involved in it.
In the humble judgment of the writer, the best kind of a friendly home visitor, is a woman of positive Christian experience & good hard sense. Not the religious sentimentalist, nor the formal & patronizing ethical culturist of our time.
It is part of our program, to hold conferences & public meetings to discuss the various phases of the one great problem, and to arouse the public conscience with special reference to the following necessities: - A Home for the aged poor; A school for the feeble minded: an undenominational hospital for the poor: and a sanatorium plain but modern in its every appointment: not free but at such rates for room board & attendance, as shall make it available to the sick of slender means.
The following institutions do not admit that they come in the category of charities; but they nevertheless appeal to the public for aid.
The Day Nursery, for children from 2 to 9 years of age, at so much per month.
The Boys' Club, for boys of the South end of town. It is really a free night school, and rendezvous for boys.
The Young Women's Christian Association, which runs a Christian Home for young women employed in stores and offices, and such as may be temporarily out of employment: they have to pay however nearly, if not quite, as much as would be required of them in any other boarding & rooming establishment, that is as a matter of business; but the advantages of Christian surroundings and the personal interest of the Secretary in the welfare of the young women, is something that cannot be measured in dollars and cents.
The Willard Home is conducted by the W.C.T.W., and is for working house girls out of employment.
They get a room for $1.00 a week but they provide & cook their own meals, and take care of their own rooms.
The St. Francis Hospital and the Glockner Sanitarium, are Roman Catholic institutions, and both claim to do charity work, but no financial statement in proof of it is ever published.
The National Deaconess Sanatorium intends to take such charity patients as they can accommodate, but at present their funds, they admit, are inadequate to meet charity expenditure. This is a Protestant institution under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal Church of America.
The Union Printers Home for dependent printers, is a fine institution with about one hundred inmates at present. It was built and is liberally supported by the International Union of Printers, and costs about ten cents per month for each union printer in active membership. This of course is in no sense a public charity, altho. Mr. A Drexel [?] Mr. Geo. W. Childs, both of Philadelphia, Mrs. Elizabeth Cass Goddard and others of this city, contributed toward the building and furnishing of the Home.
I trust that by the time this reaches you, the Christian ideas of the citizens of Colorado Springs will be so thoroughly in accord with the Golden Rule, enunciated by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that much of the machinery of charity herein set forth will be obviated, or the harmony of its operations become the music of a noble philanthropy.
I have the honor to be, in this act,
Posterity's humble servant.
Secretary & Manager
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