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Information bulletin
(June 1951)

Anthon, Margaret Day
House of neighbors,   pp. [20]-23 PDF (2.7 MB)


Page 23


bath as soon as the tub was in opera-
tion.
Subsequent crises have been met by
equally willing volunteers. The readi-
ness of neighbors to help build the
center was matched by that of the
Army, US occupation officials and
members of the American community
in Berlin whose moral and material
assistance brought into actuality the
neighborhood's desire for a meeting
place. One of the persistent worries of
Margaret Di
Carl Anthon,
officer, Berlin
came to Germ
of two represein
Women's Chris
America. Folk
as consultant
with Military G
temberg-Baden
to Berlin to we
YWCA.
l-
the Neukoelln housewives was how to
clothe their families. One mother painstakingly un-
ravelled 13 pairs of old rayon stockings collected from
relatives, in order to knit her child a pair of socks, work-
ing by the dim candlelight which must serve the whole
family on long winter evenings!
The mothers' club of the new neighborhood house
then decided to help each other by putting old clothing
in shape to be used by such families as most needed it.
Appeals for gifts of clothing from the United States were
met by generous bales of discarded "old look" garments.
With these, the mothers' club set up a thrift shop, and
invited at first 100 of the neediest families in the neigh-
borhood to come and select one garment each. In return,
families were asked to help with the work of the center
in any way they could, with time or with money.
Fathers and young men came in to wash windows or
help repair furniture. Mothers and young girls volunteer-
ed to put more garments in shape, or to help with house-
work in the center. As more gifts of clothing steadily
poured in from America, the volume of work done by
the thrift shop increased, so that 30 women volunteers
were needed to help with the distribution, and the funds
donated provided a substantial portion of the budget.
The thrift shop policy was decided democratically by
the women's club members who also shared in determin-
ing how the funds were to be used. When, in the spring
of 1949, the work was moved into new and larger quarters
in a barracks allocated by US Occupation Authorities, the
thrift shop earnings were used to provide central heating
to replace 10 old smoky, time-consuming coal stoves.
HE THIRD PRINCIPLE of the neighborhood house is
what Canon Barnett, the founder of Toynbee Hall,
described as "education by permeation." Instead of lay-
ing down precepts, it seeks to provide a climate where
people of various backgrounds, interests and capabilities
may come to know and understand each other as they
live and work together. Neighborhood houses are not
missions established by one class to do good for another,
or to win converts to a cause. They are intended ratheir to
provide the yeast for leavening community life, to help
individuals to help themselves and become more effective
members of society.
In the Quaker and Mennonite neighborhood houses in
Germany, men and women from the United States, Eng-
land and the Scandinavian countries have volunteered
to live in the neighborhood for a year or longer as
ay Anthon, wife of
Higher Education,
O Element, HICOG,
Lany in 1947 as one
ttatives of the Young
stian Association of
3wing three months
in Youth Activities
overnment in Wuert-
t, she was assigned
irk with the German
they shared so
neighbors, to learn as well as to teach.
For three summers now in Neukoelln,
foreign students and workers have
taken part with German youth in
international work camp groups at the
neighborhood house. These groups re-
built and repaired substantial portions
of the building, swapped ideas on
politics, religion and philosophy, as
well as recipes and housekeeping
methods, songs and dances. In their
day-to-day life in Berlin, marketing,
attending -lectures, visiting families,
many ideas and questions that it was
hard to get time for sleep. What they contributed to
each other was even more important than the work they
turned out. The friendships formed during the work
camps have been continued through correspondence and
have helped in no small measure to strengthen the ties
of sympathy and understanding from country to country.
37 HE DAILY PROBLEMS FACED by the Neukoelln
neighborhood house since its early days have
gradually changed. No longer are three groups huddled
together in one small room to share the luxuries of heat
and candlelight. No longer, when the telephone rings,
does it have to be taken to pieces and laid out on the
stove to dry, and quickly screwed together again before
communication is established, as was necessary before
there was glass in the windows. With prospect of larger
permanent quarters on its present site, the neighborhood
house building will no longer require such a large propor-
tion of the woodwork shop's time just to keep it in repair.
However, its long-range problems of how to provide strong
democratic leadership in its neighborhood, and of how to
secure independent financial support, still exist.
Democratic self-government requires the most intelli-
gent skillful leaders it can get -leaders who will live
and work and play with their groups, and try to help
them find the best solutions to their needs and problems.
The problem of financial support for neighborhood
houses in Germany requires development of the tradition
of private subsidy, since these centers function best
when they can act independently of sectarian or po-
litical control. Business and industrial leaders must be
interested to help support the work in neighborhoods,
and gifts and subscriptions from private sources must
be obtained, since even the most industrious work by
members cannot bring in sufficient to support more than
a small percentage of the operating cost of the center.
The 12 new neighborhood houses founded in Germany
since the end of the war - six in Berlin and six in
Western Germany -have all been started with financial
assistance from abroad. The broad and enthusiastic inter-
est they have awakened point up the value of what
they can accomplish. The International Federation of Set-
tlements, and other international groups to which these
neighborhood houses are affiliated, offer sturdy moral
support, but financial support must eventually rest on the
German communities where they are located.  +END
INFORMATION BULLETIN
JUNE 195 1
23


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