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There was expended for the relief of needy blind persons for the year ended June 30, 1923, the sum of $9347.14; for the year ended June 30, 1924, the sum was $10,397.18. This work is of recent origin in Connecticut, so that the only figures which we have for comparison are those for the year ended June 30, 1922, when the total was $6962.30. It is evident that the calls upon the relief fund are increasing slowly.
A total of 100 persons, representing 41 townships and every county in the state, were benefited by the disbursements in 1922-23; in 1923-24 the total benefited were 102 persons, representing forty townships. This is about 12 per cent of the blind population of the state. Of the amount expended in 1922-23, the sum of $4122.52 was paid to the Connecticut Institute for the Blind for the cost incurred by keeping there a group of thirty blind people who have ceased to be pupils and who are termed workers. In 1923-24 the sum paid the Connecticut Institute for this for a similar group of twentynine workers was $4319.35. Although these persons have learned a trade, it is better for one reason or another that they should remain at the Trades Department for the Blind, where they receive their room and board and a small weekly wage in addition, and that this Board should pay the Connecticut Institute for the Blind for the cost which this involves.
In 1922-23 the balance of the principal sum, $5224.62, was expended for seventy blind people in their homes. In 1923-24 the amount expended for seventy-three blind persons in their homes was $6077.83. Of this latter group the cause of need should, in nearly every case, be ascribed to old age, ill health or physical impairments other than lack of sight, and not primarily to blindness. As one studies the causes of need in cases of blindness it becomes increasingly apparent that blind people, if given suitable training and favorable opportunities, do not become a social liability because they cannot see, but largely because of some added handicap which precludes the possibility of self support.
It is encouraging to note that the Board has, in a considerable number of cases, where there are relatives who are in a position to give financial assistance, been able to secure their cooperation in providing for needy blind people. Uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, and foster children, as well as those nearer of kin, have agreed to help.
We have briefly characterized several cases which are typical of the conditions which are brought to the attention of this Board:
Mr. A. Eighty-six years old and totally blind. Comes of good American ancestry and in younger days was a man of means and position. Once owned the charger which General Grant rode in battle. Bereft of sight and property gone, could still get along without help, by means of his wife's capable management, if she had not been laid low by a serious operation from the effects of which she has not fully recovered. In spite of their difficult outlook, both man and wife preserve a quiet and determined faith that all will be well. We are helping to the full extent-$30 a month—mostly in groceries.
Mrs. B. The widow of a dentist, in her 60's, childless, with no near relatives, and without means, this estimable woman could provide for herself if it were not for serious physical ailments which render her intermittently blind and have so drawn upon her vitality that she can do no work. She is deaf but shows a fine courage and joys in the faithful ministrations of a few friends. We have cooperated with a private agency in keeping her in her small home.
Mr. C. Typical in some respects of the sad cases of neglect which occasionally come to the attention of a social worker. This young man was brought up by an uncle in Ireland. Conditions were primitive and when he broke his ankle medical attention was not available. Later when a thorn pierced the eye only home remedies were applied. As a youth he was sent to this country, lame, nearly blind, with little schooling and self conscious to a considerable degree. He could not secure employment because of lack of sight and was much disheartened through one unhappy contact after another. The case was brought to our attention and we were able to secure specialists' services and an operation which gave him, with glasses, reading vision. We secured
employment for him and he is grateful and believes his prospects are good.
Miss D. In middle life, the daughter of a veteran, and possessing more than enough native ingenuity and determination to attain self support, in spite of her blindness, if it were not for ill health. Five operations, however, have left her in a much weakened and highly nervous condition. The case is appealing because of the woman's indomitable desire to attain self support under added handicaps. The King's Daughters, the Daughters of Veterans and a private charitable agency give some assistance. The case is one, because of its difficult phases, that is demanding much patient attention and supervision upon the part of the Board, as well as considerable financial assistance.
The amounts expended for relief purposes by months, for the year ended June 30, 1923, are as follows: July,
$515.81 January, 1923.... $682.71 August, 588.99 February,
802.96 September, 866.61 March,
999.43 October, 666.20 April,
835.69 November, 827.46 May
853.14 December, 583.27 June,
The 41 towns in which the 100 persons who received relief had a legal residence are as follows:
The amounts expended for relief purposes by months, for the year ended June 30, 1924, are as follows: July,
1923...... $709.00 January, 1924.... $ 933.64 August, 701.57 February,
921.64 September, 741.99 March,
1006.76 October, 952.39 April,
851.43 November, 760.08 May,
1109.44 December, 877.47
811.77 The 40 towns in which the 102 persons who received relief had a legal residence are as follows: Bolton
New Canaan Bridgeport
New Haven Bristol
New London Brooklyn
Putnam East Hartford
Windsor New Britain
Connecticut began home teaching work for the blind in September, 1921, with two teachers. It was found that two persons could not adequately cover the field and the 1923 General Assembly authorized the Board to increase the number to five, one of whom was to act as supervisor and do some teaching. There were six applicants for the three positions which were thus created and it was decided to hold competitive examinations and to make the appointments upon the basis of these. It is interesting to note that the applicant who received the highest rating was a graduate of the Connecticut School for the Blind, and that she was competing against graduates of the Ohio School for the Blind and Perkins Institution. The appointees were Miss Lorraine N. Berger of Bridgeport, Miss Frances E. Shields of New Haven, and Miss Ethel M. Stevens of New Haven.
One of the home teachers, Miss Stevens, was obliged to resign May 1, 1924, owing to illness, and Miss Corinne Delesderniers of Meriden, was secured as substitute,
The appended tables tell in a formal manner something of what has been accomplished. They do not acquaint one with the missionary spirit in which the teachers are carrying on the work. We believe that this is largely responsible for the marked success of the effort, and it is a satisfaction that our ideals for home teaching are high and that we are striving to attain them.
What the friendship and kindly encouragement of the home teachers mean to some of our people who are distressed by physical pain and mental apprehension is expressed in these words by a woman who is in great trouble:
“The only bright thing in my life at present is the visits which Miss S- makes me. They are full of love, encouragement and kindness, and she always leaves me a pleasant thought to work on for the next week. She is the only one who comes to me often."
For the year ended June 30, 1923, there were but two home teachers and the work was not conducted under the district system. The daily reports in tabular form were started January 1, 1923, and the totals for the period from that date to June 30, 1923, are:
Number of calls
1145 Hours in preparation
122 Hours in travel
12526 Letters written Hours in investigation.... 115
520 704 842 322