Chicagoan Silas Purnell is credited with helping more than 50,000 inner-city teens get into college. In the mid-1960’s he quit a marketing job and opened a college placement office in the basement of a public housing project. He worked relentlessly to help those who came to his door: persuading administrators to give young people a chance, pleading for scholarship money, asking local businesses for donations, and encouraging students to work hard once they started classes.

A good word to describe Silas Purnell is “advocate.” He believed in young people’s future and spoke on their behalf to those in power. A priest was also to be an advocate, speaking to the people on God’s behalf and to God on behalf of the people.

Today in the Word, July 2003, p28

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