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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 55

Auckland Benevolent Society. — Annual Meeting

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Auckland Benevolent Society.

Annual Meeting.

The annual meeting of subscribers to the Auckland Benevolent Society was held at the Lome-street Hall last evening. His Worship the Mayor (Mr. W. R. Waddel) occupied the chair. The following were present on the platform :—Bishop Cowie, Rev. S. Goldstein, Colonel Haultain, Mr. C. C. McMillan, and Dr. Murray Moore.

The Mayor said his position in connection with the society was ex officio; but his sympathies were with its objects, otherwise he would have sent an apology, for the part he had been able to take in the movement after the preliminary business was arranged did not warrant him in presiding that evening, but he felt; it not only a duty, but a pleasure at all times to preside at any meeting where the welfare of the citizens of Auckland was concerned. His Worship said an attempt had been made to get up a charity Sunday, and he believed a reply had been received from two denominations at least, stating that they could not preach for the purpose of procuring funds for distribution outside of their own denomination. A society of this kind had to be worked on a very broad basis. When a person came seeking food or shelter, that was not a time for asking what his creed or country was. He had had large experience during the last twelve months of giving assistance to people, and he recognised a want of means to meet urgent cases. The Prison Brigade report would show that there was another society or institution at least doing a great deal in that particular way. They would have to place the Benevolent Society before the public in such a manner that they would receive a ready response, the givers believing that the money contributed would be fairly, carefully, and judiciously expended. The society, he thought he might say, was now fairly in working order, and he hoped the public would respond more liberally in the coming year than they had done in the past. The lady canvassers had exerted themselves very creditably indeed. The difficulty of collecting large sums by a door-to-door canvass was only known to those who had tried it. The class who needed the aid of the society did nob as a rule assist. He was sure the lady canvassers had found that out. The wants of the working classes were equal to their means. He had met some unemployed who cried "starvation !" when only a few weeks out of employment. That was a pitiful state of affairs. In some cases the Auckland workmen were very improvident, and did not provide for a "rainy day;" in other cases, of course, they did very well.

The Hon. Treasurer (Mr. C. C. McMillan) read the statement of accounts as follows :—

Receipts.—To amount of donations and subscriptions, as per lists, £437 7s 1d; Government subsidy to June 30, £193 1s 6d. Total, £630 8s 7d. Balance in hand, December 16, 1884, £406 1s 7d.

Expenditure.—By cash for relief, as per Secretary's statement, £97 15s 4d; rent of office, £25; office furniture, £14 9s 3d; stationery, etc., £8 13s 8d; printing and advertising, £26 16s; sundries, £4 12s 9d—£177 7s; Secretary's salary, £47; balance at Bank of New South Wales, £406 1s 7d. Total, £630 8s 7d.

The Secretary (Mr. Duppuy) read the report as follows :—

First annual report of the Auckland Benevolent Society, December 16, 1884: During the year the society has done a great amount of practical work at a trifling expense; and it is gratifying to report that not one known de-serving case of real distress has gone unrelieved. Before help has been given every case has been carefully enquired into, and whenever it was found that the applicants were undeserving the society has not hesitated to refuse help. Help has been bestowed in the form of money, food, bedding, clothing, surgical appliances, lodgings, passages to other parts, and work has been obtained for several. Exclusive of men and women who were destitute but had no one depending upon them, sixty-four families have been relieved, and some of the families were for a considerable time dependent on the care of the society. The committee would thank the subscribers for the means placed at their disposal for the relief of the poor and needy, and assure them that no pains are spared to see that the objects of the society are faithfully carried out. The Treasurer having prepared a financial statement, and the Secretary a very detailed statistical report of all the cases relieved, and these documents being open to inspection by the public and the Press, it is not needful to do more than refer to those documents, which are to-night placed upon the table.

The Mayor said he was astonished at such page break a large balance to the create of the society considering the large number of cases requiring relief. He begged to move the adoption of the report and statement of accounts.

Bishop Cowie had much pleasure in seconding the motion. It had been stated that all the details were on the table. He hoped a summary would be published in order that the public might see what had been done. He was convinced of the need of a society like that; but he was not at all sure that the citizens generally were equally convinced of its necessity. Since the establishment of the society fewer applications had been made to him for relief. He hoped he might attribute that fact to the successful manner in which the operations of the society were being carried out. He hoped the small attendance at the meeting was not any token at all of lack of interest in the working of the society as felt among the people of Auckland generally. It wsa well that such meetings should be well attended, although the result could be read in the newspaper. He had been requested to apologise for Bishop Selwyn, who had only received his invitation a few hours before the time of meeting. He thought the meeting should have been more fully advertised, and other means should have been taken to secure a larger attendance. Be hoped special care would be taken of widows and orphans; and he hoped they would not pauperise the people by letting them feel that they had only to apply, to receive 5s, 10s, or £1, or whatever they might want. He hoped it would be impressed on able bodied men who applied, that while the society was glad to give the assistance wanted, the society would look to them to refund to the society the money they received from it so soon as they were able to do so—not for the benefit of the society so much as for their own—to keep up their own sense of honour.

Mr. F. G. Ewington said the amount of money received showed that they had the sympathy of the public. Although it was not a very large amount it was sufficient for their purpose. The ladies and gentlemen forming the Executive Committee had been most painstaking, and if there were cases, as had been mentioned by the Mayor, they had not come under the notice of the Executive Committee. He thought full publicity had been given as to the holding of the meeting, it had been advertised and circulars had been sent to the clergy and to the leading men of the city.

Mr. P. A. Philips congratulated the society on its financial position. He bore out the statement of the Chairman as to the large number who found their way to the Mayor's office seeking relief. He was sorry to hear of the nature of the replies from two denominations as to Hospital Sunday. A charity Sunday existed in almost every civilized city and be would like to see it in Auckland.

Dr. Murray-Moore said the small amount of money expended in charity compared with actual receipts had arisen from the extreme discretion of the ladies who had had the distribution in giving the smallest sums to the applicants for relief. He pointed out that the society had not yet been in operation for a year.

The Rev. S. Goldstein agreed with a remark which had been made, that it was not the duty of those who formed the committee to seek out cases : the object of the society was simply to relieve cases of distress that were brought under its notice. He felt sure the ladies and gentlemen who formed the committee had been well cognizant of the difficulties of their task. The ladies had collected £437, which the Government had supplemented by £193, and, as Dr. Murray Moore had stated, it was only those who had themselves engaged in the task of collecting knew what endless perseverance and temporary annoyance it entailed. By discussing and ventilating the question as much as possible he was sure it would materially benefit the society.

Mr. Ewington said in many cases the ladies bad paid sums out of their own pockets and had not charged the amounts to the society.

Mr. McMillan said as far as the amount expended was concerned it simply meant that the ladies and gentlemen employed in the work had used discretionary power. He thought the great safeguard of the page break society was that they should use the greatest discretion with its funds. The ladies had discretionary powers up to a certain amount, but sums above that had to be referred to the Executive Committee. The committee met once or twice a week, and every case was gone into carefully, and only those cases requiring it were relieved. He bore testimony to the fact that the Executive Committee had given as immense amount of work to the society. It was, he believed, the intention of the committee to print the report, together with details of the work done.

The motion for the adoption of the report was carried unanimously.

Dr. Murray-Moore moved the following resolution, which had been adopted by the General Committee, and was recommended by that committee to the present meeting :—"That the Mayor be invited to institute, early in 1885, a Charity Sunday, on which boxes should be placed at the doors of all places of worship, the contributions to which shall be given to the Auckland Benevolent Society. That His Worship also recommend to the employers of labour, that on a certain Saturday, boxes should be placed in their establishments for voluntary offerings to the society." This system had been found most beneficial at home, and in no single case had it to be given up after starting. He asked those present to give him their hearty support in that resolution. He had thought it over very carefully. He felt it would gather strength as it proceeded, and the various small rivulets of charity would gather into one mighty stream and relieve the destitution which existed. He spoke from actual experience when he said there were men and women in this city who did not know where they were to look for their next meal.

The Rev. T. McKenzie Fraser seconded the motion. He referred to the great success of the Hospital Sunday collections in Australia, and spoke strongly in support of the objects of the Auckland Benevolent Society,

The motion was carried unanimously.

Mr. Tremain thought it would be a good thing if the £ for £ subsidy was extended beyond the Benevolent Society.

On the motion of Mr. William Thorne, seconded by Colonel Haultain, a hearty vote of thanks was passed to the ladies who had collected funds.

Mr. Ewington proposed, and the Rey, Mr. Goldstein seconded, that the committee be re-elected.

Carried unanimously.

Dr. Murray-Moore, in proposing a vote of thanks to the Mayor for his kindness in presiding, and the interest he had taken in the society from its commencement, said there was no more practical philanthropist in Auckland than that gentleman. Personally and (he was sure) on behalf of the society they tendered him their thanks.

The motion was carried by acclamation.

The Mayor returned thanks, and the meeting terminated.