Made flesh in the Wild Holy
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Making sure homeless children get to school and have school supplies

Russell "Rooster" Valentini is the ''homeless education liaison'' for the Allentown School District and the regional coordinator for the state Department of Education's homeless children's initiative. His daily work (shall we say ministry?) includes making sure homeless children get to school and have school supplies.

[The next three paragraphs are taken from a feature in today's Morning Call.]

As the homeless education liaison, he has an office in Allentown because that is where most of his work is. But as the state's regional coordinator, he also provides technical services to all school districts in Lehigh and Northampton counties.

''Around here, we talk about him as if he's an angel; not to be dramatic,'' [Allentown Salvation Army executive director Dave] Williams said. ''His commitment to the women and children, the vulnerable women and children, is something very hard to find. He sees the women and children as his own.''

Valentini works with about 600 students a year. Last year, 12 percent lived in motels, 46 percent in shelters and the rest with relatives or friends. The worsening economy has not increased his numbers. He has always dealt with families hit by waves of bad luck (layoffs, missed rent payments, no health care) and others who have subsisted on welfare for generations. ''Public assistance is a dream stealer,'' says Valentini, who writes poetry that often centers on his work. ''These children I deal with have never seen anyone with success of work experience.''

Read The Morning Call's feature (Sunday, Jan. 3) about Valentini here.

Early in 2009, I wrote the following on the newSpin blog. Valentini and a parent responded. See their comments below that blog post.


Bill Lewellis, Communication Minister/Editor (1986), Canon Theologian (1998)
Diocese of Bethlehem, 333 Wyandotte Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015
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Be attentive. Be intelligent. Be reasonable. Be responsible.
Be in Love. And, if necessary, change. [Bernard Lonergan]


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