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Girls' Service League History
The N. H. Lassiter home at 1008 Penn Street was bought in 1929, through a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Lassiter. Here girls lived in a constructive environment. Room and board was on a sliding scale, making it affordable to the girls' salaries. During the 1930's a salary of $6.00 per week was common and $l5 per week was a better than average job. Through the efforts of Clyde A. Lilly, who became president in 1927, a tearoom was opened in 1936 at the corner of Penn and West 7th Streets. Some of the recipes in the GSL Cookbook came from the popular menus at the Tea Room.

A program during the depression years was started to give aid to school age girls who were living in their own homes, but needed help with school expenses and clothing. In these times of widespread unemployment, furnishing a home and feeding a family was about all parents could manage; and then they were often subsidized by the City Welfare Department. This gave way to the later Federal programs.

The population of Worth Cottage had begun to change in 1939 as more and more female dependent children of junior and senior high school age were brought to the home. When it became overcrowded, the members of the League decided to purchase a larger building in closer proximity to the schools. In 1940, the Winfield Scott home at 1509 Pennsylvania was acquired. Mr. Marvin Leonard made an interest-bearing loan to the Girls' Service League for a large part of the purchase price, but through the enthusiastic efforts of the membership the loan was retired in four years. The sale of Worth Cottage for some $6,000 was also applied to the loan. The Scott home provided a place where girls lived while completing high school and some went on to receive education after high school, either vocational training or college. While residing at the Scott home, the girls shared in making the learning environment not only pleasant and secure, but also a fun place to live. Every girl received psychological counseling service to the extent it was needed. Local clinics and hospitals donated medical care. The girls took part in church activities and received religious counseling from the leaders of the church they attended.

During World War 11, the homes were used almost exclusively for young women brought in from the National Youth Administration training centers to work in defense plants. After the war, the homes reverted to their original purpose. The property on Penn Street was sold in 1948 and Lassiter Lodge was moved to the W. T. Waggoner home at 1200 Summit. This home was rented temporarily, while the League looked toward a more modern home for working girls. A lot was bought on South Adams as a future site, although it was never used.

The forerunner of the Girls' Service League was a protective service for girls established in 1917 by the War Department and operated by a committee of local women under the guidance and regulation of the Fosdick Committee of the Federal Government called the Girls Protective Bureau.

Governments support was withdrawn at the close of World War I in 1919, but the need for such a program had been recognized. Women who had worked with the Bureau joined together to form the Girls Protective Association and received funding from the Fort Worth Welfare Association until 1927. The Welfare Association was the only public organization at that time; it joined with some five or six private agencies trying through united efforts to meet some of the needs of the people of Fort Worth.

After obtaining a state charter in 1927, the Girls Protective Association became a part of the City Welfare Department and continued under its auspices until 1930, when it became a charter member of the Fort Worth Community Chest. The next year, the organization was incorporated under a new charter and the name changed to the Girls' Service League, lnc.

The program has been revised during the years to better meet the ever changing needs of the community, but always its purpose was to give protection and opportunities to girls. In its new format, caseworkers and volunteers went into every disadvantaged area in the city to form training classes for girls of all ethnic groups. They worked with families, courts, and schools in ail effort to stabilize the lives and further the proper development of girls and young women.

Worth Cottage at 917 Henderson, an emergency shelter for girls and women in need of temporary care and employment was opened about 1922. This home served every private and public agency in the city that needed the kind of care furnished. An employment office was opened in the Majestic Building through which some three or four hundred girls and women found employment each year in domestic work, nursing, and childcare or as companions, waitresses, clerks, and those in clerical fields. This was closed after the government employment office opened; it was duplication of effort; but during its existence the office offered a respected and productive service. Although the city was growing, salaries were low. The need became evident for a home for girls working full-or-part time, pursuing some type of educational training to enhance their earning capacity.

The central city was expanding and consequently the residential area on Pennsylvania Avenue was becoming more commercial and less desirable. In 1954, the schoolgirls moved into the recently purchased Ed. S. Hill Home at 271 1 Park Hill Drive. Lassiter Lodge, used for the working girls, was again moved from Summit to the Scott Home on Pennsylvania Avenue and remained there until 1969. Young women were looking toward apartment living; apartments were more numerous, and salaries were higher making independent living more assessable. In addition, the per capita cost of this program had continued to increase due to the turnover and decreased population in the home.

Leila Lilly Lodge Ed. S. Hill home was a lively group home for school girls where the members and staff sought to help these young people fulfill their aspirations and, at the same time, receive well rounded experiences for better adjustment and development. However, as methods in caring for young people and their problems changed, the 'live-in' concept became less popular. Casework services were given more extensively to young people in their own homes, their relative's home, or foster homes. Unless the Girls' Service League developed a home for specific service, emotionally disturbed, retarded, or other disabilities it was time to examine the type of services needed and the League's ability to provide them.

Since the central objective was to provide educational support, in 1979 the League began to concentrate entirely on providing financial assistance for education and vocational training. Both properties were sold and an endowment trust created from the capital created. The income from the endowment used for grants for the girls and women in their search for skills that will provide adequate security for themselves and their families.

Throughout the history of the Girls' Service League, dedicated women have given their time, talent and treasure to make it possible for girls to prepare themselves for a future as well adjusted and educated citizens.
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Girls Service League, Inc. | 4528 W. Vickery Blvd. | Suite 104 | Fort Worth, Texas 76107
Office: 817-738-9092 | E-mail |
Office hours: Tuesday - Thursday 9:00am to 3:00pm | Monday and Friday by appointment only | Membership Application