My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

I was told a most interesting story today about a piece of work that a woman had been doing for several years. Mrs. Ruth G. K. Strawbridge started the Philadelphia Help Bureau in her own home at the suggestion of the late William Howard Taft she tells me, which allowed people who were in need to advice to come to her. She really established a clearing house through which she directed people into the right channels for such assistance as they needed. She studied her own city, knew the people who would be willing to see those who were in need of help and sent her clients to them without even a letter of introduction. She felt that it was better that they should tell their stories without another person preparing the way and she found herself gradually working up to a point where over two hundred people visited her every week and needless to say it became more than she could do so she turned it over to a group of churches.

I asked her what percentage of her visitors she had been able to follow up, and about how many she felt had been permanently started on a basis which would mean that they would proceed under their own momentum and solve their own difficulties. She said about four out of every ten were only temporarily bewildered and were quite able to proceed when helped to think through their own situations and to start climbing up hill again instead of sliding steadily further down.

This struck me as extremely significant for it would indicate that over one third of the people who are in trouble, if they knew of some place to go where really sane advice was available might start themselves going in the right direction again. One amusing touch was her claim that many young people are intimidated at home because their parents will not listen to them but immediately begin to scold before the young people have a chance to explain their difficulties or their point of view. Good listeners are always a Godsend and work of this kind may prove to be helpful at the present time.

TMsd 10 February 1936, AERP, FDRL