Woman of the Week, Mrs. M.J. Pratt, Evening Telegram, 1948, March 20, p.10
As President of Board of Directors of the Y.W.C.A., Mrs. Max Pratt, daughter of Canon A.B.S. Stirling, is along with her capable and hard-working fellow members of the Board straining every effort to make a success of this year’s financial campaign.
Many will recall the regret with which the old “Y” at the Seamens’ Institute had to be disbanded because of wartime demands. Since that, the Foreign Division of the Y.W.C.A. of the United States stepped in, keeping our organization going with their funds for two years. The Canadian “Y” also helped us along by sending a secretary to organize the work.
With the close of the war, however, there was no longer any obvious need of help from outside, and the support was consequently withdrawn. It was up to the “Y” to keep itself going and thanks to public support has been able to make a remarkably credible showing.
Once a year only the Y.W.C.A. makes an appeal to the public for that financial support without which it cannot function.
“If the community feels that the “Y” is worth supporting,” remarked Mrs. Pratt, “it will be willing to support it. If it feels the “Y” is not filling a need, it will not support it. That has always been the policy of the wide, although of course, we realize that in times of depression, for instance, many people who would like to see the work continued, feel they can take no part in helping financially. However, the “Y” believes in straight giving, and so we have our yearly financial appeal.”
“The time is rapidly approaching when there will be need for expansion. We are handicapped by the smallness of our present premises, grateful as we are to the government, which gives them to us, he did, and rent free. There is, for instance, a crying need for a Hostel but we have been able to go no further than to supply a Room’s Registry service, through which we are able to recommend to the girls, previously inspected boarding houses.”
There are ten clubs functioning within the Y.W.C.A.. These have organized club meetings, and five of them are devoted to the interests of school-age groups. “But,” urged Mrs. Pratt, “we need more than that. We need a place where the girls can drop in any time they wish. At present, our rooms are being used continually, by one group or another, for their own particular purposes.”
The Y.W.C.A. has grown continuously in the last four years, and people everywhere are showing an appreciation of the work being done for the community.
“Occasionally,” said Mrs. Pratt, “this or that person points out the fact that there are many other youth groups in the city, and wonders of our work doesn’t overlap. But we handle school girls from grade six up, and no other organization does that. There is also the inter-denominational aspect, which promotes a spirit of unity among the girls, and also the fact that they brought in their minds by contact with others in all walks of life. A great thing, I think you will agree, and one that makes for good citizenship. It is amazing to see how the girls develop.”
Mrs. Pratt was a pupil of Bishop Spencer College, and graduated from Memorial University College. She received her B.A. degree at Dalhousie [King’s]. Returning to Newfoundland, she accepted a position on the staff of the public library.
“I love the work,” she enthused. “If you like people, and if you like books, you are bound to like Library work.”
Mrs. Pratt remained with the Public Library until her marriage to Mr. Max Pratt, of this city, and when the “Y” became reorganized, she took an active part, serving on committees and later, on the Board of Directors, of which she was recently elected President.
“Our staff works very hard,” she said, “and enthusiastically, too, and our band of volunteer workers co-operate splendidly with them. Indeed, without our volunteer workers, they would be no “Y”, and we owe a great deal to their efforts. Our own various clubs make a point of doing something every year to raise money for us and they make a marvelous effort to help us finance our work. It is, however, to the public we must look for support, and we are hoping for a strong financial backing this year.”