Page:Homes of the London Poor.djvu/64

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62
HOMES OF THE LONDON POOR.

can only learn by being left to himself, and though he cringingly begs for work, it is refused. The visitor will also tell how the girl has been frequently helped to clothes of which she had made no good use, how situation after situation had been carelessly lost, how weak parents and idle companions had always been ready to back her up in bad ways. The committee are thus able to see that now she must be taught to earn her clothes gradually. So only will she learn her responsibilities and reap the natural reward of labor.

It will be seen from the foregoing illustrations that the endeavor of the committee and of those at work under them is to give help that shall be adequate, and as far as possible, permanently beneficial. They feel themselves bound, even though the applicant be deserving, to refuse aid which could be a mere temporary stop-gap and confer no lasting benefit, and their aim is in every case to rouse the spirit of independence and self-help.

It will also have been observed how very valuable an element in the working of the scheme the visitor forms; that she is not only a channel through which useful information reaches the committee, but is, in almost every instance, their actual agent in carrying out the plans of help adopted. I must, however, say something further as to the importance of the appointment of some lady or gentleman acting as Referee; that is, as a center for all the volunteers working as visitors. For if volunteer work is to form a useful part of our scheme of dealing with the people, we must accept those as workers whose work is necessarily intermittent. This must be done in order that we may secure a sufficient number of workers, and not waste, but gather in and use all the overflowing sympathy which is such a blessing to giver and receiver. With our volunteers, home claims must and should come first; and it is precisely those whose claims are deepest, and whose family life is the noblest, who have the most precious influence in the homes of the poor. But if the work is to be valuable,