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Domestic Peace Corps Rolls Out in Harlem

July 1, 1963 - Harlem’s hot and crowded streets are serving as the nation’s first proving ground for the proposed Domestic Peace Corps. A small band of men and women, backed by Federal funds, is striving to prove that a home-based Peace Corps serving America’s underprivileged is as necessary as the international Peace Corps. Twenty-seven volunteers have enlisted in the demonstration project, which hopes to establish guidelines for developing the national Peace Corps now being considered by Congress. Each day they set out from the Domestic Peace Corps headquarters at 179 W. 137th Street to work at assigned tasks in schools, hospitals, homes for the elderly, health agencies, recreation programs, and projects to fight juvenile delinquency. “Our trainees are answering calls for help as basic as those in foreign countries,” Livingston Wingate, the project’s executive director, said. “But we are a small group and can’t solve Harlem’s staggering problems. As a pilot program, we are trying to demonstrate what can be done in this and other cities to provide help to people who cannot otherwise get it.” The Peace Corps volunteers began their field work in March after an eight-week study course on some of Harlem’s most disturbing problems — school dropouts, unwed mothers, narcotics addiction, juvenile delinquency, absentee landlords, and slum conditions. They will work until the end of the year in Harlem, and during this time they are being given room and board and $2 a day. At the end of their training, some will return to their homes, where they will seek to establish similar programs. Others will stay in New York to work in schools and health and welfare agencies. Funds have been supplied by President Kennedy’s Committee on Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Crime, and by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

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