VACATION ASSOCIATION, NEEDLEWORK GUILD
AND OTHER AGENCIES
Organization and growth of Vacation Association War Relief---Flotilla Committee and its wonderful work--- Militia of Mercy---Needlework Guild of America--- Committee for Men Blinded in Battle---Emergency Aid of Pennsylvania---Committee of Mercy and its contribution of over $2,000,000---Hudson River War Relief--- League of the Allies-League of Catholic Women--- Mercy Committee of New Jersey.
The story of the organization and growth of the Vacation Association, Incorporated (New York), is full of interest. Just twenty-seven days after the outbreak of the war the Vacation War Relief Committee of this organization was started. The Vacation Association is an integral part of the Woman's Department of the National Civic Federation, and its name is derived from its initial purpose, which was to enable self-supporting girls and women to save money for proper and healthful vacations. One of the most helpful branches of the work undertaken by the War Relief Committee was a free employment bureau for the benefit of those who had lost their positions because of war conditions. As it was found that many of these girls, who had previously earned good wages and were in no way charity cases, had been made practically destitute, it was decided to open temporary workrooms where a tide-over wage of seventy-five cents a day could be paid on garments made for the European emergency hospitals and war refugees. The War Relief Committee came into being in September, 1914, with Miss Gertrude Robinson Smith, chairman. Immediately a number of existing organizations cooperated. These included the Department of Correction, the Woman's Auxiliary to the Tuberculosis Clinic of the Department of Health, the Association of Catholic Charities, the Charity Organization Society, the State Charities Aid, the New York Association of Women Workers, and the Department Store Education Association. Results accomplished were remarkable. The Special Case Committee investigated all the destitute cases, and all those needing special relief or medical attention. During the first five weeks of its existence the Bureau registered 849 girls, of which number 188 were placed immediately.
In the first year's work of the Committee three principles were outlined as being the main object of the Committee: first, to meet here in America the very serious industrial situation resulting from the outbreak of the war; second, to further in every possible way the sending of the much needed supplies to the European war sufferers; third, to seek cooperation wherever possible with other organizations. So strikingly successful has been the work of this Committee that it has had the cordial cooperation of some of the most important organizations in America. These include the Association for Improving the condition of the Poor, the Federated Employment Bureau for Jewish Girls, the League of Catholic Women for Social and Civic Reform, the Mayor's Committee on Unemployment, the New York Association of Women Workers, the State Charities Aid Association, Women's Conference Society for Ethical Culture, Young Women's Christian Association, American Fund for French Wounded, and many other foreign relief societies.
Mrs. Coffin Van Rensselaer, as chairman of the Employment Bureau, has done excellent work. Two experiments were in progress in the fall of 1917. One has to do with vocational help to children at the point of leaving school, and the other is a health project for the benefit of wage earning girls. The latter is operated in connection with the Woman's Municipal League, a free clinic, the immediate object of which is to make examination and to suggest changes in habits, diet, kind of work, etc., when they are desired. Girls needing medical or surgical care are encouraged to go to the special physicians or dispensaries suitable to their needs. The achievements of the workroom committee have been equally notable. In fifteen months orders amounting to more than $126,000 passed through the order department, of which Miss Maude Wetmore, is chairman.
Of especial interest is the work of the Flotilla Committee organized in November, 1915, as the result of an urgent appeal sent by Mrs. Edith Wharton for surgical motors for the advanced trenches. These formations of flotillas, completely equipped, cost $12, 000 and consist of five cars each, one carrying a portable operating room with radioscopic apparatus requiring only two hours to set up; another a powerful electric lighting and heating installation; a third, a laundry capable of handling six hundred pounds of soiled linen at a time; the fourth, a drying van and the fifth, an installation for douches, disinfection, destruction of vermin, sterilizing of drinking water and shelter tanks.
The first contribution received was from Mrs. Daniel Guggenheim, who contributed $12,000, and the first Flotilla was sent to the Secours aux Blessés Miltiaires in December, 1915. This generous contribution greatly stimulated other donations, $32,437 being raised in a month.
Madame Emma Calvé offered to assist in organizing a French Flotilla Benefit at the Metropolitan Opera House. The benefit took place on January 4, 1916, and was an enormous success.
A Militia of Mercy organized in 1916 in New York City to care for the children afflicted by infantile paralysis has used its large and powerful organization in the most effective way for war work. Its first activity was the care of the families of the Navy Militiamen. The Comforts Committee sells wool at a little more than the wholesale price to the public. The profit is used to cover running expenses, and what remains is placed in the Special Fund, which is used to purchase wool for women who have the time to knit but who cannot afford to pay for the wool. An old lady in Brooklyn sent to the Militia of Mercy a scarf which had been knitted for her husband who was a sea captain. He died twenty years ago and she had cherished this scarf in his memory. Being very poor and wanting to do her bit she sent the scarf in the hope that it might help some man in the Navy.
The Militia of Mercy appreciated the spirit of the gift and sent it with an explanatory letter to the commander of an American battleship and the scarf was given to an American sailor.
Another organization which was doing beautiful work when war was declared and which turned the current of its effort to war relief is the Needlework Guild of America, a "Bridge from the Island of Waste to the Island of Want." This society has 400 branches scattered over the United States and its large membership includes 25,000 directors whose duty it is to collect and distribute new, plain suitable garments to meet the great need of hospitals, homes and other charities. During the flood and tornado devastations of 1912 and 1913 the Needlework Guild rendered a superb service as it has done in many other disasters since it was organized thirty-two years ago. Prior to the outbreak of the European War, a branch had been established in Lyons, France, which immediately upon the declaration of hostilities took up war relief work. Its first assistance was the clothing of Belgian refugees, and as the result of an appeal to the members in the United States, $20,000 was sent to France in December, 1914, with which workrooms were opened in Lyons. More than 300 women were given employment and 25,000 garments were distributed to the hospitals for the wounded. Nearly 1,000,000 garments and surgical dressings have been distributed in France and sent to her Allies by 173 branches of the Needlework Guild in America. This splendid organization was founded by Mrs. John Wood Stewart of Glen Ridge, New Jersey, and Mrs. Levi P. Morton,of New York City is honorary president.
The National office is in Philadelphia and the organization is affiliated with the American Red Cross and the General Federation of Women's Clubs and is a member of the National Conference of Charities and Correction and the National Council of Women of the United States. Mrs. Truman H. Newberry, of Detroit, Michigan, is national president, and the national vice presidents are Mrs. George Fales Baker, Bryn Mawr, Pa.; Mrs. Robert . Harding, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Mrs. Samuel Semple, Titusville Pa. and Miss Julia M. Wolbert, Tacoma, Wash. Mrs. Oliver S. Keely is recording secretary, Mrs. Heber Smith, treasurer and Miss Rosamond K. Bender, corresponding secretary. Mrs. John Wood Stewart is chairman of the War Relief Department, and other officers include Mrs. Joseph Guedy, secretary; Mrs. Oliver S. Keely, trustee and Mrs. W. A. Nichols, Wayne, Pa.; Mrs. Isaac Gimble, New York City; Mrs. William Spencer, Erie, Pa.; Mrs. H. J. Harris, Glen Ridge, New Jersey; Mrs. William T. Barber, Detroit, Mich. and Mrs. Hoffman Atkinson, New York City. The War Relief Office is at 70 Fifth Ave., New York City.
The Committee for Men Blinded in Battle was the outcome of the New York Association for the Blind, organized in 1906. Its headquarters are at Light House No. 1 in New York. The building was officially opened by the President of the United States and the work was conducted under the presidency of the late Honorable Joseph H. Choate. The Committee for Men Blinded in Battle was the first organization to be formed to aid the war blind. It has assisted in various ways, 3,000 men, including eight different nationalities, and instruction has been given to more than 300. More than 8,000 gifts have been made to the war blind, and these unfortunate men have been taught and aided in over 50 hospitals. A number of these pupils have already taken their places in the sighted world as competent wage earners. Among the professions taught in the light house are handicraft, languages, typewriting, stenography, commerce, music, modeling, etc. The Committee succors and relieves the blind whenever possible and gives re-education to such as are fitted to profit by its teaching. Mr. John H. Finley,acting president and the vice presidents are Miss Winifred Holt, William Howard Taft, Charles E. Hughes. The honorary chairman is the Bishop of New York, the secretary is Mrs. Peter Cooper Hewitt, the treasurer, Mr. William Forbes Morgan, Headquarters, 111 East 59th St., New York.
One of the most far-reaching organizations for war relief in the United States is the Emergency Aid of Pennsylvania, which, with 59 associate organizations and branches, 33 of which have been formed since March 1, 1917, comprises more than four thousand members. The central committee, of which Mrs. A. J. Cassatt, the chairman, has 26 separate committees, the work of each of which is distinct and which results in the carrying of relief to virtually all the Allied countries, meeting many and diverse needs and covering practically the entire gamut of war relief enterprise. The Emergency Aid is also engaged in valuable domestic activities. In all, a total of nearly $2,000,000 had been received The vice chairmen are Mrs. Edward Browning, Mrs. John C. Groome, Mrs. George Q. Horwitz, Mrs. J. Willis Martin, Mrs. Cornelius Stevenson, Mrs. E. T. Stotesbury,Mrs. Barclay H. Warburton, Mrs. Thomas Robins,secretary, Mrs. Edward K. Rowland, corresponding secretary and Mrs. J. Norman Jackson, treasurer. Headquarters, 1428 Walnut St., Philadelphia.
The Committee of Mercy was established in October, 1914, with the approval of President Wilson, to help the women and children and other noncombatants made destitute by the war. Associated in the Committees formation were Mrs. J. Borden Harriman, Miss Katharine B. Davis, Norman Hapgood, John Moffat and T. C. Glen-Coats, Mr. Elihu Root,honorary president, and the vice presidents include Dr. Charles W. Eliot,Harvard University, John Purroy Mitchel, ex-Mayor of New York, Miss Katharine B. Davis, chairman, Parole Commission of New York, and Mrs. J. Borden Harriman, Mr. August Belmont,treasurer. The Committee of Mercy, up to the summer of 1917, had collected more than $2,065,000. In addition to the relief administered through reliable agencies in France, Russia, Armenia, Serbia, Montenegro and Poland, considerable sums have been raised for other relief committees. Headquarters, 360 Madison Ave., New York City.
Immediately upon the declaration of war Mrs. H. Fairfield Osborn, organized the Hudson River War Relief Committee and sub-committees, and sewing and knitting socials were established in the small towns and villages along the Hudson River. Associated with Mrs. Osborn, are Mrs. Cornelius R. Agnew, Mrs.
Vincent Astor, Miss Grace Bigelow, Miss Catherine S. Burton, Mrs. Charles DeRahm, Miss Madeline I. Dinsmore, Mrs. Cleveland H. Dodge, Mrs. Martin H. Glynn, Mrs. Levi P. Morton, Miss Mary Haidane, Miss Irene M. Hedges, Miss Gertrude L. Hoyt, Mrs. Robert P. Huntington, Mrs. Ogden Mills, Mrs. Archibald Rogers, Mrs. James Roosevelt, Mrs. Samuel Sloan, Mrs. Clarence Page Townsley,Mrs. Frederick W. Vanderbilt, Headquarters, Room 65, 18 West 34th St., New York City.
The League of the Allies, 360 Madison Ave., New York City, has for its object relief for the sufferers in all the countries affiliated with the Entente in the prosecution of the war against the Central Empires. Money has been raised chiefly by the great Allied bazaars held in the Grand Central Palace in New York in 1916 and 1917. Among the prominent women identified with the work are Mrs. Charles B. Alexander, Mrs. Gertrude Atherton, Mrs. H. R. Beckwith, Mrs. William Astor Chanler, Lady Colebrooke, Mrs. William H. Crocker, Mrs. C. C. Cuyler, Miss M. L. de Sadeleer, Mrs. C. H. Ditson, Mrs. Newbold Leroy Edgar, Mrs. Jeanne L. Etty, Mrs. William Faversham, Mrs. Marshall Field, Jr., Mrs. Charles Dana Gibson, Mrs. Benjamin Guinness, Mrs. J. Borden Harriman, Mrs. Ernest Iselin, Lady Lister Kaye, Mrs. Maurice Kozminiski, Mrs. Charles H. Marshall, Miss Elsa Maxwell, Mrs. Walter E. Maynard, Miss Margaret Mayo, Mrs. Potter Palmer, Mrs. Gifford Pinchot, Mrs. Joseph Pulitzer, Mrs. James Lowell Putnam, Mrs. Ralph Sanger, Mrs. J. H. Sears, Mrs. William Payne Thompson, Mrs. H. J. Whigham,Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney, Mrs. Michael Gavin is secretary and Mrs. Andrew W. Dougherty is treasurer.
The League of Catholic Women is a New York State organization with branches in various cities. Miss Teresa R. O'Donohue,is president. Mrs. Nicholas F. Brady, Mrs. Alfred C. Chapin, Miss Elizabeth Marbury, and Mrs. Francis Burrall Hoffman are vice presidents. Mrs. P. J. Gallagher offered her residence, 154 East 38th Street, New York City, as headquarters for the League of Catholic Women for the duration of the war. The League cooperates with other Catholic organizations and supplies hospital garments and other articles made according to Red Cross and French standards. Twenty-seven organizations of Catholic women are uniting in one great powerful committee which is doing nation-wide war work along all lines. Headquarters, Woodward Bldg., Washington, D. C. Father Louis J. O'Hearn is General Chairman.
The Mercy Committee of New Jersey, since the war began, has sent abroad approximately 70,000 garments and more than $10,000. The junior branches have also made bandages and have sent a large number to Europe through the Red Cross Surgical Dressings Committee. The Committee's work is now largely devoted to the equipment and reconstruction of the military hospital located at Iselin. Mrs. Charles D. Freeman is president, Mrs. Fred H. Albee, Mrs. J. Kirtland Myers and Mrs. Jabez Gilbert are vice presidents and Mrs. Chapman Fiske is secretary. Headquarters Iselin.
In February, 1917, Columbia University mobilized and sent out enrollment blanks to all men and women connected in any way with the University. About eight thousand women answered and a separate Committee of Women's War Work was formed which opened its Information Bureau on April 6, 1917. This Committee registers for volunteer or paid war work, any woman who is or has been connected with the University. It supplies information as to course and needs in war activities. It furnishes volunteer workers and fills paid positions. It is in close touch with other War Organizations in the city and with various departments at Washington. Its headquarters are in Room 301, Philosophy Hall, Columbia University, New York City; chairman of the Committee on Women's War Work, Virginia C. Gildersleeve, executive secretary, Virginia Newcomb.
Chapter XXXI. Special Aid Society and
Work of Jewish Women
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