While Helen was at the Perkins Institute, she found out about a blind and deaf boy from Pennsylvania named Tommy Stringer. Tommy’s mother had died, and his father did not have enough money to send him to Perkins. Helen helped to raise the money by asking people for help. Below is the beginning of a letter to Bishop Phillips Brooks, who helped Helen raise the money.
|The text of this letter reads ... South Boston, May 1, 1891. My dear Mr. Brooks; Helen sends you a loving greeting this bright May-day. My teacher has just told me that you have been made a bishop and that your friends everywhere are rejoicing because one whom they love has been greatly honored. I do not understand very well what a bishop's work is, but I am sure it must be good and helpful, and I am glad that my dear friend is brave, and wise, and loving enough to do it. It is very beautiful to think that you can tell so ...|
It is interesting to note that this letter was written four years after Anne Sullivan came to stay with the Kellers. Helen had made outstanding progress in her development of language.
A different letter she wrote to the Boson Globe was published and readers sent in over $1600. Because of Helen, enough was raised to pay Tommy's expenses for two years.
When Tommy arrived at Perkins, a private tutor was not ready, so Helen and Anne Sullivan were his tutors for the first few months.
This probably inspired Helen to devote her life to helping others.
Helen would write these letters using a grooved writing board. The grooves helped her to keep the size of the letters the same, and to keep the words in line.
Helen wrote a lot of letters too. The letters she wrote just from 1887 to 1891 fill over 100 pages of The Story of My Life, Helen's autobiography written while she was a junior at Radcliffe.