After a century, it’s time for a celebration

Added October 9th, 2012 by Gilda Z. Jacobs | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Gilda Z. Jacobs
From the League’s First Tuesday newsletter
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On Wednesday, we will celebrate 100 years of research and advocacy at the Michigan League for Human Services, soon to be the Michigan League for Public Policy.

How time flies!

The League traces its roots to 1912. It began, appropriately enough, during the Progressive Era as the Michigan Conference on Charities of Corrections. A group of concerned citizens (including social workers, judges and attorneys among them) planned an annual meeting about the major public welfare issues of the day.

Imagine this group from all over the state joining together. These were the days when communication meant typing a letter on a typewriter and sending it through the mail. No faxes or Internet or conference calls. There wasn’t even widespread use of telephones or automobiles.

Yet they persevered. The group kept its annual meeting going. It added a public policy committee and began making recommendations to governors about children, the poor and those with disabilities. In 1918, the group changed its name to the Michigan Conference of Social Work and focused on standards used in social work. The organization kept going after WWI, through the 1920s and into the Great Depression where members helped write the poor laws in our state and an executive director was hired.

In 1940, it was renamed the Michigan Welfare League. It moved into WWII and the prosperous ’50s and the Vietnam Era. In 1971, the organization was renamed the Michigan League for Human Services, a name it kept through the Watergate era, Reaganomics, the good times of the Clinton ’90s and then the last decade of terrible job loss in our state.

On Wednesday, we’ll change our name again to the Michigan League for Public Policy. The League board approved this name change with some hesitancy, not wanting to interfere with the organization’s identity. The new name, however, more accurately captures our scope of research and advocacy, and it ends confusion with the similarly named Department of Human Services.

But let me clear — our name is changing but not our mission.

Throughout the years, the League kept its focus on people and how life can be better for not just some of us but all of us. Today we have the Internet, broadcast emails, videos, conference calls and webinars. Wouldn’t our 1912 annual meeting planners be amazed? Yet, just as those who came before us understood, we still have a lot of work to do.

Please join us Wednesday at the Michigan Historical Museum for a celebratory evening from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wander the museum, enjoy a strolling dinner, cocktails and a special program where former Gov. William G. Milliken and U.S. Rep. John Dingell will be honored with lifetime achievement awards.

Help us get a good start on the next century of advocacy and research that help the people of Michigan. Reserve your spot now.

— Gilda Z. Jacobs

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