Franklin D. Roosevelt

Radio Address on the Annual Mobilization for Human Needs. Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

October 18, 1937

Each year, as we emerge further from the insecurity and want of the depression, we have a better right to look back with satisfaction at the ground which we have covered. But even while we can take satisfaction in this glance backward we have a serious, inescapable obligation to look forward at the same time and to do it with honesty and vision.

There is danger that we may be blinded by the welcome light of returning prosperity to the very real need that still exists for a considerable part of our population. We must not forget that there are people who are still hungry, their children undernourished; that rags are the clothing of many of our countrymen and miserable shacks or crowded city tenements their only home. These are the things that make it imperative for us to go forward without hesitation in our efforts to bring security, opportunity, and a decent standard of living to all our people, so that our prosperity may be a more true prosperity for the whole Nation.

In this great effort to better the conditions of those who do not now share the freedom from actual want which most of us enjoy, it is important that all agencies, both public and private, receive the Nation's support. It must not be thought that the responsibility which the public assumed through its government, local or national, for the problems of welfare lessens the need for the many services of the private agencies. This need continues and can only be met with generous support from those who are fortunate in their ability to give, even though the gift be relatively a small one.

Again this year, Community Chests representing these agencies in your own community, will appeal to you for moral and financial support so that these needs may be met. All of us have an obligation to face this need honestly and then to give as generously as our individual means will permit. To help our neighbors is a part of the best American tradition. For us the long view of life has included at every turn the principle of mutual aid.

The Federal Government with the return of prosperity must more and more narrow the circle of its relief activities and reduce the amount of Federal revenue to be expended in the amelioration of human want and distress in the various communities of our land. I say this because we all agree that unless Federal taxes are to be greatly increased, the expenditures have to be brought within the existing tax receipts. Although Federal Government relief activities have to be curtailed, there must needs be no abatement of state, local and individual relief work. Indeed, local and private activities must be increased.

I would, therefore, make an especial appeal that Federal officials and our government employees wherever they are found ought to take a leading part in cooperating with local and community relief workers in carrying forward their unremitting campaign for the alleviation of the want and suffering that still stalk the land. The wholehearted cooperation of Federal workers will not only aid the work immediately in hand but it will also afford an excellent and practical example of the right community spirit.

And as I dwell upon the practical force of good example in well-doing there comes to my mind the example of the City of Denver which now for half a century has given to the other cities of the country. Denver, I am informed, is observing tonight the fiftieth anniversary of joint financing. The Denver beginning was a forerunner of what has been developed into the four hundred fifty Community Chests throughout the country.

State and local governments are assuming an' increased responsibility for those unable to work, for those who are ill, for the provision of adequate educational and recreational opportunities for all. In every American community the generosity of private giving makes possible the never-ceasing campaign waged by private welfare agencies to bring opportunities otherwise denied; to render needed services not otherwise available and to pioneer in new fields that widen the horizon of us all.

This work can only go forward with the generous cooperation of all of us. The Community Chest offers us once again the opportunity to express our fundamental belief in the principles on which our democracy was founded, by the generous, wholehearted and spontaneous giving of our money and our good will. I ask you to help even more greatly than ever before.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Radio Address on the Annual Mobilization for Human Needs. Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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