August 16, 2011

Adelphoi Village to Mark Fortieth Anniversary August 18, 2011



AUGUST 18, 2011

     Forty years ago the Rev. Paschal Morlino, then a Benedictine monk at St. Vincent, founded a group home for boys on Mission Road in Unity, he wanted to aid young people in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

     “That’s all I wanted to do was help these kids who were in trouble…When I first started, I saw the need and thought it was something I could do.”

      Throughout the years Morlino’s mission—to reach out to youth—has remained constant, according to President and CEO Blair Kucinski.

     “They really don’t see hope for the future, they have a feeling of hopelessness. We try to offer kids that hope, so they can overcome what might seem like major obstacles to them and allow them to succeed in the future,” Kucinski said.*

     The organization’s August 18, 2011, birthday celebration will include the unveiling of a “Legacy Wall” created to represent the last four decades. Founder’s Day, to be held on August 19, will feature activities and alumni speakers.

     The group home has, over the years, developed into Adelphoi USA. The organization is comprised of several agencies:

  • a charter school
  • a philanthropic foundation
  • programs in 30 Pennsylvania counties
  • Adelphoi Village—an 8-acre campus outside Latrobe that provides care and treatment to more than 2,500 at-risk youth each year.*


     Hanging on my mug rack is one from Adelphoi Village, received at an early twenty-first century Founder’s Day celebration I attended when I was one of their part-time employees.

     On numerous occasions during my time in Connellsville, Pennsylvania (an hour distant from Adelphoi’s home base in Latrobe) persons had suggested that I apply to Adelphoi for employment. It wasn’t something I wanted to do. I wanted to write and work on my crafts. I also occasionally worked as a fill-in at Carnegie Library. And issues in my neighborhood were sufficiently demanding that I didn’t want to take on dealing with troubled youth.

      About three years before we left Connellsville I was convinced to apply for a fill-in position. Having a B.A. in sociology, backed up by an A. A. S. in medical technology qualified me. In addition, I my background as a family child care home provider, adoption caseworker, and years of domestic violence counseling secured my references. It didn’t hurt that I had written and administered a Children’s Trust Fund grant program.

     There were four Adelphoi units within three blocks of my house, and if I worked the night shift as a fill-in I wouldn’t have a long drive home after the shift was over. I didn’t have to depend on a car. I could walk.

     Fill-ins are just that: they fill in when staff is short. Adelphoi is required to have two persons on duty during the night shift. When they are short-staffed a fill-in worker is called. Fill-ins are not required to work when called. The attractiveness of this position is that fill-ins have no further responsibility beyond filling the required staff count.      

     During the interview I was quite arrogant. I told the interviewer, forthrightly, what I wanted and why: I want to work the night shift, about three to four times a month, because I want quiet time to write.

     Somehow, the interviewer wasn’t put off. He continued the interview for a few minutes before stopping to inform me that “there is a computer in each house if I need to research anything.”

     I knew at that point I was hired, and told the interviewer that I would be content if I had a table, chair, and outlet (for my laptop) at the end of the hallway where I was assigned and expected to spend the night—awake.

     The beauty of it all was that I had no responsibility. One night one of the kids ran. The police were called. The night worker was interviewed. I was ignored. I felt somewhat miffed, but it was a true demonstration of my lack of responsibility.

     In the beginning I received calls to fill in during the day and many nights. I turned down all but the three to four nights I said I wanted to work.

     Staff is not supposed to be friendly to youth in the home when they meet outside the home. This is to protect the youth’s confidentiality. The process doesn’t always work. One morning I was on the job as an emergency fill-in at the Carnegie Library. The night before I had filled in at an Adelphoi house. A youth, accompanied by what looked like his big sister but who was his caseworker, came into the library and greeted me so enthusiastically that I couldn’t ignore him without being obviously rude and insulting. He mentioned my being at his Adelphoi unit the night before. So much for confidentiality.

     I loved the quiet nights. After I helped settle the kids down I would settle down at my table and open the coffee I had picked up on the way to work my shift, and enjoy the meal I brought while reading the morning newspaper that I purposely hadn’t read. Then I would begin to write.

     I completed a lot of writing and I edited and organized photos on my laptop. But my work time allowed me to do more. Once I needed to interview a man for a newspaper article. He mentioned he was a nightowl when I asked him when we could talk.

     “Oh,” I said. “How late are you up?”

     It turned out he was up into the wee hours of the morning.

     “Would you consider a phone interview at midnight?”

     Another time I interviewed a woman in Atlanta, Georgia. I knew from experience that she was a night owl, and so we scheduled the interview for 1:30 a. m.

     During my employment people asked me if I was paid for my writing.

     “Yes, for some,” I replied, referring to the newspaper articles I submitted. Most of the time I didn’t divulge the fact that when I wrote while working as a fill-in I considered it was a way of getting paid for my writing time.

     I also did other work on the job.

     I’m known for my paper clutter. I don’t know about you, but paper clones itself at my house. One time I looked at my desk at home and wondered when I would ever get to sort out the papers. Then the idea struck: I threw the papers into a box, prepared a second box with file folders and markers, and waited. The next time I was called to fill in, I took these materials. It took me all night, but by the youth’s morning wake-up time the task was done. My desk was never more organized.

     I did the same with backed up laundry that needed folding. It was simple to bring household tasks to work to complete.

     I did spend time with the youths before they bedded down (and/or early in the morning) and occasionally checking their rooms during the night. They seemed to accept me as a grandmotherly type, and having no responsibility for them I could just enjoy their company.

     Another advantage to working at Adelphoi Village was the training they provided. I could maintain continuing education credits that way.

     My time as a fill-in at Adelphoi Village was enhanced by the staff members I worked with—dedicated, caring, individuals who had much to offer the youth housed in the organization’s units.

     On numerous occasions I was asked to be on staff. I always refused. I enjoyed and benefitted from holding a position as fill-in. Being on staff would demand more responsibility.

     My employment with Adelphoi ended when my husband and I moved from Connellsville to Laurel Mountain Borough. The Adelphoi Units nearby required at least twenty minutes driving, which I didn’t choose to do after being up all night (and sometimes all day the previous day). In addition, shortly after the move I became a cardiac artery disease patient. Switching nights and days the way I had done (sometimes so much at the last minute that the earlier staff had to remain until I arrived) just isn’t good for heart disease, and I want to be kind to my heart.

     I know my employment seemed self-serving. However, I was considered a valuable employee because I never slept on the job. They could always depend on me to be awake and alert during my shifts. And I was usually available when they were in a bind.

     On the mornings that I choose the Adelphoi Village mug for my coffee I recall some of the times when I worked for the organization. 

     When I saw the newspaper article on the fortieth anniversary of Adelphoi Village I recalled the time I spent in their employment. My only regret is that I waited so long before applying to them for fill-in work.





Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath






  1. My name is Kevin Reitz, and I was in Adelphoi’s Valley House, that was located in New Kensington PA. back in 1982. I am doing very well now days!!! Living a spiritual life, clean, and sober. I didn’t get it right away, but I got it!! The director back then was Mark Sarnesso…I am not sure if that is the correct spelling, and the supervisor of Valley House was Lori Smith. The other counselors were Cindy Cook, Mark Ricci, and Lou Debridge. My question is, how can I get ahold of the alumni from Valley House. I would like to thank everyone, and I would like to get caught up on how everyone is doing. I am getting ready to start working in a rehab in the Altoona, PA area, and it would be nice to let everyone know that someone is now giving back, what he was freely given. If you could send me any information, or forward my information, I would greatly appreciate it. I still have an Adelphoi brochure with my picture on the cover, and it would be nice to come back someday, to talk to the clients, and share my experience, strenght, and hope!! My e-mail address is Thanks for your time!!

    Comment by Kevin Reitz — August 24, 2011 @ 12:46 am | Reply

    • Kevin,

      I passed your information on to Adelphoi USA. Let me know if you hear from them.
      Carolyn Cornell Holland

      Comment by carolyncholland — August 28, 2011 @ 1:10 am | Reply

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