RELIEF FOR FRANCE
American Fund for French Wounded---Fund for Heroes of France and her Allies---French Heroes Fund ---Blind Relief Fund---Ecole des Beaux Arts-Union des Arts-Comité Franco-Américain---American Girls Aid---Fatherless Children of France---American Distributing Service-War Babies Cradle---Children's Fund for Kiddies' Kits---Relief for Liberated Villages of France.
One of the most important of the organizations in America which is devoted to French relief is the American Fund for French Wounded, which was established in November, 1914, in London, under the name of the French Wounded Emergency Fund. The present organization was formed in December, 1915, and the first work of relief was in Normandy and Brittany. There are more than 500 branch committees, and up to the fall of 1917 more than 15,000,000 separate articles had been shipped abroad, and a sum approximating $1,000,000 had been expended. The organization exists in practically every state in the Union, the principal branches being the New England branch in Boston, and those in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Baltimore. Each branch has more than 25 committees working under it. The Paris depot has 14 departments distributing its supplies. The headquarters are at 22 Madison Avenue, New York City. Mrs. Ethelbert Nevin,chairman, Mrs. Lewis B. Stillwell,chairman of the executive committee, Mrs. Benjamin Girault Lathrop,president, Miss Ann Morgan, treasurer, Charles Butler, vice president, and Miss Elizabeth Scarborough, secretary, Miss Elizabeth Perkins, chairman of publicity.
The original work of the American Fund for French Wounded was confined to sending supplies to the emergency hospitals in France, which at the beginning of the war were inadequately furnished. After three years the French have their methods for caring for the wounded well organized, but each month longer that the war lasts the demand for hospital supplies grows greater. With nine hundred thousand hospital beds in France continually in use, when only the French army was being considered, the number now is greatly augmented and many a French hospital will care for an American soldier.
The Civilian Committee of the American Fund for French Wounded is recognized by the French Government and cooperates with the American Red Cross as by agreement signed by Major Murphy in Paris and Mr. H. P. Davison in Washington, and members of the Executive Committee of the American Fund, whereby the Red Cross recognize the American Fund as an independent organization working in partnership with the Red Cross, and recognizing Mrs. Dike as Chairman of the Civilian Committee operating in the Aisne and the Somme.
The object of the Civilian Committee of the American Fund is to re-establish the destroyed homes of the inhabitants of the devastated region, and to reinstate the French citizen on an independent and self-supporting basis.
The first unit formed by the American Fund for French Wounded for civilian work were placed by General Petain at Blerancourt in the Aisne, in July, 1917. Ten American women settled amongst the ruins of this town and organized a community center which included the supervision of twenty-five villages.
In August, Smith College with sixteen workers affiliated themselves with the American Fund for French Wounded, and through the Chairman of the Civilian Committee were placed at Grecourt with ten villages to supervise.
The first unit established at Blerancourt accomplished through the cooperation of the French army the task of plowing and seeding four thousand acres of land and planting three thousand fruit bearing trees. They also opened a dairy consisting of seventeen cows which was put on a self-supporting basis, and the children and invalids were able to obtain fresh milk for the first time in three years.
In three months the unit completed the restoration of forty-seven houses, so that they were habitable homes for those who since the German invasion had lived in cellars, or shell torn ruins.
The unit had bought and judiciously distributed chickens and rabbits, and provided laborers with the implements of their trade, so that they very soon became wage-earners again.
With the generosity of the Red Cross the Civilian Committee were enabled to buy stoves for a number of the residents. The unit organized classes in carpentry for the boys and sewing and housekeeping for the girls under the training of a teacher of the Ecole Managers who has had long experience in teaching children.
Another organization known for the remarkable work it has done is the American Fund for the Heroes of France and Her Allies, of which Mrs. William Astor Chanler, President. The French Heroes Fund was organized for the purpose of aiding the wounded and mutilated soldiers, their wives, daughters, and sisters, and the children of invaded France. Up to the fall of 1917 a total of $197,941.93 had been raised by this organization. Workshops were established where trade and occupations are taught, with the object of providing employment and sustenance and of putting the destitute and disabled masses in France on a permanent, self-supporting basis, and no work has been more constructive nor had a more far-reaching influence. This organization purchased the château in which was born the Marquis de Lafayette, and this provides an impressive sentimental interest for Americans, aside from the practical objects to be attained.
Perhaps the most vitally interesting phase of the work of the French Heroes Fund is its activity in educating boy orphans between the ages of 12 and 18 years. The plan involves sending these boys to this country to engage in occupations here, between their 18th and 21st years, at the expiration of which time they will return to France to take to that country the results of their experience in the United States. It is believed that this will be of permanent advantage in establishing a better and a more intimate understanding between the people of the two countries. France will, by this method, give to America the enthusiasm and spirit of the French youth, and will, in return, get the experience and spirit of business enterprise that characterizes our own country. It is planned within a few years to have several thousand of these French orphans actively engaged in learning various occupations in America. The French Heroes Fund will also maintain a sanitarium near the Château de Chavaniac Lafayette for delicate children. This château is eventually to be maintained as a museum along the lines followed in the preservation of Washington's birthplace at Mount Vernon.
A number of prominent American women have been actively interested in the American, British, French, Belgian Permanent Blind Relief Fund, which has headquarters at 590 Fifth Avenue, New York City. Mrs. George A. Kessler, Mrs. R. Valentine Webster, and Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney are honorary secretaries, and Miss Nellie Turner,assistant honorary secretary. The Fund was organized in England and France in November, 1915, and in this country in March, 1916. The American section is under the patronage of President Wilson. The British and the Belgian sections, of the King and Queen of England and the King and Queen of Belgium, respectively; while the President of the French Republic heads the French section. The primary object of the organization is the creation of a fund for the permanent care of the blinded soldiers of America, Great Britain, France and Belgium. There are committees in Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Memphis, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington, D. C. More than $500,000 has been collected by the end of 1917 and all of this has been spent for actual relief, the expenses having been otherwise met. $200,000 has been sent to France and England, partly for immediate relief and partly for investment in War Loan Bonds as foundation for a permanent fund, for which purpose $300,000 has been invested. The organization pledged itself to raise approximately $400,000 in 10 years, to be sent to France in installments of 200,000 francs yearly, and this is but a part of the sum required for the blinded Americans French, British and Belgians. Mr. George A. Kessler, chairman of the executive committee, placed his handsome Paris residence at the disposal of the French committee, to be utilized for the temporary training of the blind and workshops have been established in Paris. The work of this organization is on a very solid basis, and does not aim at sporadic or temporary relief, but for the maintenance and support of the blinded soldiers in the hard and difficult years that must follow the war.
A number of the American students of the Ecole des Beaux Arts founded, in December, 1917, in Paris, what is known as the American Students' Committee of the Ecole des Beaux Arts, in appreciation of the debt of gratitude which the students owe to the French nation and particularly to the school. The Committee has branches in Chicago, Boston, San Francisco Washington, and Philadelphia, with an active chairman in charge of each. There are between 300 and 350 regular contributors who gave, in less than two years more than $60,000. The work this committee is doing for women in France through an ouvroir, organized to provide work for mothers, wives and sisters in need, is extremely interesting. The school furnishes a large room in which the work is carried on. Here are made various articles that are needed by men at the front, and scarfs, socks, sweaters, shirts, underclothing, mittens, slippers, pajamas, etc., for the wounded. Material is bought by the committee or received through donations. The women are paid a fixed sum for every article turned out, a sum that is larger than that paid by most ouvroirs connected with the charitable organizations in Paris. The ouvroir turns out to the soldiers every month articles to the value of 1,500 francs, for which the cost is about 100 francs. In other words, the ouvroir, besides providing work for the women members of the families of the students, permits a saving of approximately 1,400 francs a month on articles of special design of great utility that cannot be purchased elsewhere. On one occasion, when the gas attacks were renewed, many men were without masks. The ouvroir immediately get to work and about 300 masks were promptly sent off to the front. Besides caring for these needs the ouvroir executes many orders for other charitable organizations in Paris, including the American Relief Clearing House. In this way funds are secured for purchasing material.
The Union Des Arts was founded by Rachel Boyer, of the Comédie Française, several years before the war, for the purpose of giving help to the needy actors and actresses, literary men, painters, sculptors, musicians and lyric artists. At the outbreak of the war the organization turned its attention to war relief, establishing soup kitchens and workrooms in Paris. As the war continued, it became more and more difficult to obtain contributions in France, and through the Marquis de Polignac, who is representing French art for the French Government in America, a request was made to organize a committee here. This was undertaken by Mr. P. C. Cartier and Miss Martha Maynard, and the organization was ready for actual work the 1st of January, 1917. Through subscriptions and various entertainments, and the sale of charms, bracelets, etc., the society has sent to Madame Rachel Boyer about 73,889 francs. Rachel Boyer,president of the Paris organization. The officers for the American branch are: honorary president, Gaston Liebert, president, Edmund L. Baylies, vice presidents, Winthrop Ames, Frederick R. Coudert, Joseph R. Freedlander, McDougall Haukes, Mrs. Philip Lydig, Lloyd Warren, bankers, J. P. Morgan & Company; honorary secretary, Mrs. J. West Roosevelt, secretaries, Miss Martha Maynard, P. C. Cartier.
The work of the Comité Franco-Américain was started by Mr. Frederic R. Coudert of New York in August, 1914, to rescue a hundred little waifs from the invaded region in the north of France. The children were brought to Paris and placed in the care of Mr. August F. Jaccaci, the president of the organization, who, with the assistance of the other members of the French Committee, Mrs. Cooper Hewitt, the honorary president, Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss, vice president, Mr. Arthur Hugh Frazier, treasurer, and the Countess Pierre de Viel-Castel,and Mrs. William H. Hill, established colonies through France to care for the children, who came in continually increasing
numbers as the war continued. There are over twenty-five colonies, caring for from 1,200 to 1,500 children. There is also a sanitarium. New children are constantly being received from the devastated regions and the need is steadily growing.
The various colonies are supported, some by members of the Committee, the others by donations and by the "marraine" system, whereby individuals in America "adopt" and support a definite child, concerning whom they get reports, and with whom they may establish direct communication. The clothing is made entirely in the United States and shipped to France, and much of the food is sent from the United States.
The American office of the Committee is at 24 East 63d Street, and among the members of the Executive Committee in the United States are Miss Rosina S. Hoyt, Miss Martha L. Draper, chairman of Adoptions Committee; Mrs. Joseph Lindon Smith, field secretary and Mrs. Charles P. Howland, secretary and chairman of Supply Committee.
The American Girls' Aid, 293 Fifth Ave., New York City, was one of the first organizations to take up war relief work for France and was formed for the collection of clothing for the victims of the European War in France, the clothing being distributed through the War Relief Clearing House for France and Her Allies. The Organization has many branches in different parts of the United States, and in addition to supplying clothing is also contributing hospital supplies, approximately s, 9,000 cases having been sent to Europe by the summer of 1917. The Committee has pledged the support of
250 orphans in France. In the fall of 1917 it was announced that arrangements had been completed for the establishment of a hospital unit in France of about 100 beds, for French and American soldiers. This is supported by subscriptions secured by Dr. L. M. Moody, the surgeon in charge and by the Girls' Aid. Ten nurses are on the staff, and these are paid by the organization. Dr. Moody,the two surgeons assisting him serve without pay. Friends of the American Girls' Aid donated three ambulances and one automobile, and drivers immediately volunteered their services without pay. The running expenses of the hospital are about $5,000 a month. The American Girls' Aid is working under the patronage of the American Chamber of Commerce, Paris, France and the work of the Committee has the approval and sympathy of the Belgian Relief Committee. The Executive Committee is composed of Miss Gladys Hollingsworth, chairman, Mrs. Gaston Pinto, Miss Elizabeth Hollingsworth,A. Seton Post, Jr.
The appeal of the committee known as The Fatherless Children of France is almost electric. The society was organized in October, 1915. Its aim is to maintain the orphaned French children in their own homes, to be brought up by their mothers and fitted for the work of reconstructing the French nation, which will develop upon them. The future of France may be said to depend on these children and upon the opportunity given them to grow to maturity, healthy and strong, and able to assume these great burdens.
The policy of the organization is to establish a personal relationship between the American donor and his little French protégé by means of letters which will bind the two countries in ties of understanding and sympathy for the future. Money is collected in this country by voluntary contributions through voluntary committees, and sent to Paris where it is distributed by Government post-office money order, bearing the name of the individual American subscriber as well as the name and address of the French child. In return the child benefited, writes a letter to his American friend and usually sends a photograph. These little letters are charming and pathetic in the extreme and are not to be forgotten.
It is the inviolable rule of the Fatherless Children that every cent subscribed for a child shall go to that child without the deduction of a postage stamp, and all overhead expenses here and in Paris are met by a separate fund donated for the purpose.
The society is no longer a branch of the American Society for the Relief of French War Orphans. That society recently became merged with the Red Cross and has gone out of existence, leaving the Fatherless Children of France the only organization for the relief of French war orphans on this particular plan on a large scale in this country.
The society has 130 committees operating in as many different communities. It has raised over $1,500,000 and of that $1,000,000 since the first of the year. It has cared for 50,000 orphans.
There are 150,000 more children registered on the lists and in desperate need of help. Advices from Paris state that the winters bring the most extreme privation and suffering and that the children are dying by hundreds of tuberculosis because of exposure and malnutrition. Headquarters 563 Park Ave., New York City.
The American Distributing Service was the first American organization for hospital aid in France, having been formed in August, 1914. It was started by Mrs. Robert W. Bliss for the instant relief of the most obvious needs of the hospital staff. At the end of the first year the report showed that over 44,000 articles had been sent out. The list of hospitals was then 700 and in less than a year the list of articles sent out each month had grown to 240,000 and the number of hospitals to 1,400. Within a few more months the list of articles sent out had increased to 940,000 and the hospitals supplied were 2,553 in number. The American Distributing Service is under the authority of the Minister of War and he has issued instructions that each of these 2,553 hospitals shall send in a list of supplies most needed. The work has increased so enormously that although the supplies are delivered by motors to the hospitals nearest Paris, railroad service is being used more and more on account of the large amounts sent out. The system of the service is so perfect that the supplies are shipped almost as soon as received. Besides distributing supplies, relief was given during the first year by using the headquarters for refugees, and now rooms are given over to homeless women who are employed in making the various garments needed for the distributing service. Mrs. Arthur M. Dodge been prominently identified with this work from the beginning.
Especially appealing is the work being done by the War Babies' Cradle of which Mrs. Frances A. Clarke is honorary president, and Mrs. Jules S. Bache, honorary treasurer. The purpose of the War Babies' Cradle is to care for the mothers and children in distress in Northern France and Belgium who lack food, clothing, fuel and medical attention. The help afforded is done through an agency at Calais under the superintendence of Comtesse Marie du Hemptinne, a Belgian lady who visits the families in the stricken districts and so far as possible supplies their needs. Necessities only are purchased with the contributions. The Cradle cares for the mothers for ten days and then exerts its efforts largely for the assistance of the new-born children, whose plight under the terrifying and dreadful conditions of their birth is most deplorable. The Committee works in conjunction with the French, Belgian and British Military Charities. Mrs. Jules S. Bache, through her individual efforts, has raised more than $10,000 for these children and a newly-formed committee for the War Babies' Cradle consists of Mrs. Ogden Mills, Mrs. Edmund C. Baylies, Mrs. Herman Oelrich, Mrs. Orme Wilson, Mrs. Charles Ditson, Lady Colebrook, Mrs. Philip Lydig, and Mrs. Lawrence Gillespie.
The Children's Fund for Kiddies Kits was started in October, 1915, as hundreds of refugee children were coming into Paris and clothing was difficult or impossible to get. It was intended that the appeal should be made to the children of this country to supply the needs of French and Belgian children. Money sent in for kits has amounted to more than $6,000, which has been used exclusively for needy children.
A committee known as Relief for the Liberated Villages of France has as its representative in this country Miss Marie Louise Fontaine, and it has headquarters in New York and in Washington. It has done very effective work in sending clothing, table linen and other supplies to the inhabitants of the reclaimed villages left by the retreating Germans. This charity was organized in France and its honorary president is Madame La Comtesse d'Haussonville, its active president is Madame Adolphe Moreau. An interesting phase of the work of this organization in France is the sending of squads of women among the hundreds of groups of villages whose homes have been destroyed. These women, many of them of wealthy families, share the life of the peasants of the villages. Needs of the organization to which this country can contribute are described as follows: "We want all kinds of clothes, shoes and linen. We want tools and kitchen utensils. We want threads, cottons, wools and embroidery silk for the refugees earning their livelihood with their needles."
Chapter XXXV. Relief for France
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