Biting the Hand That Feeds Them: Organizing Women on Welfare at the Grass Roots Level

By Jacqueline Pope | Go to book overview

strategies. Phase one--advocacy--essentially embraces the concept of providing technical assistance to grass roots organizations. The formulation of questions, philosophy, and strategies remain in the professionals' domain (not necessarily the planning professional). Lower income community groups have had a degree of programmatic success with this model. Phase two--facilitation--is the natural outgrowth of the advocacy endeavor. In addition, planners could serve as community brokers. Poor people's social and economic improvement ventures can be made less difficult and more effective by putting sympathetic and influential contacts in place for them.

When B-WAC closed, the WROs essentially disappeared. Its members scattered, yet they are still basically active. Given this core of seasoned community activists, I cannot help wondering whether a similar--but more establishment-type-- organization could have been established, with the assistance of the appropriate professionals. In discussions concerning B-WAC's demise, 14 of the 17 former WRO leaders agreed that this might have been so. One expressed no opinion, due to her bitter memories of welfare rights and B-WAC. Another dissenting leader, Ms. Samuels, believed that "Recipients were sophisticated enough to steer the organization in a new direction, if funds had been available."48 One final member was unsure what--if anything--would be useful in new efforts for social change. Chapter 6 will address this issue and offer recommendations.


NOTES
1.
However, B-WAC's expenditures increased sixfold when it was conducting leadership training classes (which will be subsequently discussed)-- peaking at $33,000 in 1969. Some financial records were kept by Catholic Charities on these specific expenditures.
2.
From the author's interview with Hulbert James in 1982, New York City.
3.
Rhoda Linton was an important player in B-WAC's formation and success. A firm believer in community control and grass roots empowerment,

-126-

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Biting the Hand That Feeds Them: Organizing Women on Welfare at the Grass Roots Level
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Notes ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1 - The Background 1
  • Notes 7
  • 2 - The Nature of America's and New York City's Welfare Systems 9
  • Notes 30
  • 3 - Activists and Resources of a Movement 33
  • Notes 63
  • 4 - Organized Recipients Begin Challenging Social Institutions 67
  • Notes 80
  • 5 - The Brooklyn Welfare Action Council: Forty-Six Welfare Rights Member Groups 83
  • Notes 126
  • 6 - Summary, Findings, and Recommendations 131
  • Notes 144
  • Bibliography 147
  • Index 157
  • About the Author 162
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