50 Years of Adelphoi

Adelphoi’s journey may be still evolving, but the seed of the program began fifty years ago through the efforts of one passionate and resolute man with a dream. In 1971, Father Paschal Morlino, a parish priest at Saint Vincent Basilica in Latrobe, responded to a request for help for troubled boys by opening a group home.

“I became aware of a difficult situation in Westmoreland County when the Children’s Home in Greensburg was closing,” said Father Paschal. “Mrs. Anna Schuck who was in charge of social services at Latrobe Hospital and a dear friend of mine suggested that I develop a program to take in and help children who have problems and no place to go.”

Schuck pressed Father Paschal to help children affected by the closing of the Children’s Home. He found a small run-down house on Mission Road in the Lawson Heights section of Unity Township and began renovating it. But he was not alone in his efforts. He called upon neighbors and friends in the community who willingly stepped forward for what they believed was a noble mission.

“At the time,” Fr. Paschal noted, “I had nothing, I had not two nickels to rub together, so I just started talking to people and telling them what I was trying to do and I’d have to say the community response was phenomenal… people helped me with loads of bricks and gravel, we fixed the house up, we painted and we cleaned. “ With the help of many volunteers, Adelphoi completed the home and took in its first youth in 1971.

Once that first home was completed, the program continued to grow. In 1976, Fr. Paschal was relocated to a parish in Baltimore, and so a new Executive Director, Jim Bendel, was hired. Jim had been involved in the initial planning of the organization through his association with Fr. Paschal. “We had lots of conversations about his dream, way back in 1970 before it even began,” Jim noted. “Keep in mind he didn’t know at the time where it was going to go, he just had a dream.”

Through the efforts of Fr. Paschal, Jim Bendel, and many others, that dream kept growing and expanding. In 1976 Adelphoi added foster care to its programming, and in 1981, its first private school opened. Today, Adelphoi has grown to 21 group homes and an extensive network of community-based programs, education services, foster care and adoption services, mental health and diagnostic services provided to over 1,000 children, youth, and families on a daily basis and more than 2,500 each year. In the past 50 years, Adelphoi has served over 50,000 youth.

While still headquartered in Latrobe, the agency has expanded geographically to offer services in over 60 counties throughout Pennsylvania and currently employs over 700 people.

Since its inception, Adelphoi has been recognized numerous times by prestigious organizations throughout the state including “Employer of the Year” by the Business and Professional Women’s Organization District 3 and “Program of the Year” by the Juvenile Court Judges Commission a record 8 times, more than any other provider in PA. Adelphoi has also been named “Agency of the Year” by the PA State Foster Parent Association and Adelphoi foster parents were also named “Pennsylvania State Foster Family of the Year” on five separate occasions.

Adelphoi looks forward to another 50 years of excellence in programming and quality care for children, youth and families in need. The organization will continue its remarkable journey just as it always has, with the assistance of friends, neighbors and community.