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At a meeting of the Social Service Committee last evening the plans for the year were discussed. As these plans differ somewhat from those of former years it is thought that it would be interesting to men who have no connection with Phillips Brooks House work to know just what the Social Service work means.
One of the broadest features of the work is that of conducting boys clubs. Boston and Cambridge have been divided into six districts, including in all 35 settlement houses, each district supervised by one responsible man. In each settlement house there are about five boys clubs, led by college men. It is the duty of these club leaders to read to the boys, talk to them, teach them games, and generally to lead their meetings. The principle kept in mind is that no boy is born bad nor wants to be bad, and once shown that fair play and manliness is what his respected older brother" wants, he will follow that lead.
Boys Visited in Their Homes.
Closely allied to the boys club work is that of the Home Library Committee. From each of the settlement house collections of about 15 books and some magazines are sent to the houses of several boys. These boys distribute the books among the other boys of the immediate neighborhood. When all of them have been read, they are returned and a new group sent out. A college man is assigned to each of these libraries, and has over the books with him, and his friends, and to read to them or amuse them in any way he sees fit.
Useful in Juvenile Court.
Perhaps the way in which a man may be of the most directly beneficial service in a particular case is in the Juvenile Court work. If a boy on trial for some minor offense is sent to a penitentiary where the influences are not uplifting, the changes are that he will be hardened into an incurable law-breaker. But, on the other hand, if he can be turned over to an intelligent man, sufficiently older than himself to demand respect, and near enough his own age to have mutual understanding, the chances are that he may be straightened out. The college man finds the boy occupation, talks to him sensibly, and under this treatment all but the really vicious boys can be straightened out.
Entertainments in Settlement Houses.
Another phase of Social Service is that of providing entertainments in the various settlement houses. There are two sorts of entertainment, both of which are eagerly looked forward to by the audiences whose changes of seeing real plays are very limited. In the first place college men give talks on such subjects as camping, which, being quite foreign to the settlement house audiences, are interesting doubly to them. The other form of entertainment is that afforded by singers, jugglers and the like.
Old Clothes of Great Value.
Of a somewhat different character, yet equally important, is the work of the committee on collecting clothes. Two or three times a year, the college is canvassed for its old clothes, and many men think it an imposition. If these men will consider, however, how much better qualified to know the best disposition of these old clothes a committee studying the subject is than they themselves are, they will help and not hinder this most important work.
The object, then, of the Social Service work is to bring into mutually beneficial connection the broad-minded college man and the younger generation of the thickly populated sections of Boston where the scorer classes reside. This connection is not only invaluable to the poorer boy, but also gives to the college man a broad experience that will help him later in life
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