Edward William Bok > The Americanization of Edward Bok > Page 396



Edward William Bok (1863–1930). The Americanization of Edward Bok. 1921.

Page 396

take part in the creation of the machinery necessary for the gigantic piece of work that the organization had been called upon by the President of the United States to do. It was a herculean task; practically impossible with any large degree of efficiency in view of the almost insurmountable obstacles to be contended with. But step by step the imperfect machinery was set up, and it began to function in the home camps. Then the overseas work was introduced by the first troops going to France, and the difficulties increased a hundredfold.

But Bok’s knowledge of the workings of the government departments at Washington, the war boards, and the other war-work organizations soon convinced him that the Y. M. C. A. was not the only body, asked to set up an organization almost overnight, that was staggering under its load and falling down as often as it was functioning.

The need for Y. M. C. A. secretaries overseas and in the camps soon became acute, and Bok was appointed chairman of the Philadelphia Recruiting Committee. As in the case of his Belgian relief work, he at once surrounded himself with an able committee: this time composed of business and professional men trained in a knowledge of human nature in the large, and of wide acquaintance in the city. Simultaneously, Bok secured the release of one of the ablest men in the Y. M. C. A. service in New York, Edward S. Wilkinson, who became the permanent secretary of the Philadelphia Committee. Bok organized a separate committee composed of automobile manufacturers to recruit for chauffeurs and mechanicians; another separate committee recruited for


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