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  • Patrick's People - Humble helpers

  • Don and Carol Falletti, former local residents, didn’t know when they moved to Tulsa, Okla., in 1970 that they would be signing up to fight in a war under the direction of a general named Dan Allen.

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  • Don and Carol Falletti, former local residents, didn’t know when they moved to Tulsa, Okla., in 1970 that they would be signing up to fight in a war under the direction of a general named Dan Allen.
    But that’s what happened, and the story is told in a new book titled “Dan’s War on Poverty,” written by Ann Patton, Tulsa-based writer and former Tulsa World newspaper reporter. The Fallettis are mentioned in the book, among many others, and do not want attention for themselves.
    “Carol and I would prefer not to be at the center of attention because there were so many wonderful volunteers involved in this program over the years,” Falletti said. “Our main objective is to promote social justice through education.”
    Falletti is a 1953 graduate of  Frontenac High School and earned a bachelor of science in mathematics in 1958 from Pittsburg State University. Carol Kastler Falletti graduated from St. Mary’s High School, completed two years at PSU and received her medical technologist’s certification from St. Mary’s Hospital, Kansas City.
    Falletti had been active in volunteer work since college, where he was on the PSU Student Union Board and served as president of the PSU Newman Club. After moving to Tulsa he worked first with Rockwell International and later with McDonnell Douglas, but found time to be involved with the Tulsa Area United Way, was chairman of the Rockwell International Charitable Fund and got the McDonnell  Co. Award for Volunteer of the Year.
    Dan Allen was their catalyst, parish priest of St. Jude Catholic Church, who believed that the way to preach the gospel was through untiring service to the poor. He founded the Neighbor for Neighbor program, which he termed a social service movement, with the goal  of achieving social justice.
    “It is not charity the poor need, but justice,” was Allen’s firm belief.
    Mr. and Mrs. Falletti joined the Church of the Resurrection, pastored by Fr. Bill Skeehan.
    “He was Dan Allen’s best friend,” Falletti said. “Resurrection parishioners began getting involved with Allen’s efforts to help the poor as soon as Fr. Skeehan made us aware of what the folks there were in need of. If there was something somebody needed, NFN volunteers did something about it.”
    Then a friend, Don McCarthy, said he wanted to talk with Falletti about something happening in North Tulsa that he didn’t think was right.”
    He told Falletti that there was an area of Tulsa where more than 40 families had to get their water from a single water spigot coming up out of the ground.
    Falletti told McCarthy he’d have to see it to believe it, so McCarthy took him to an area at the northeast corner of Apache and Harvard Streets, near the Tulsa Community College Northeast Campus, and there was the single spigot that supplied water to the neighborhood.
    Page 2 of 2 - “One lady in that area managed the account and paid the city for the water,” Falletti said. “It was an unusually large amount of money for that era.”
    Falletti, who’d had business experience in negotiating with the U.S. government, figured this was an oversight.
    “I figured I could go down to City Hall and clear this thing up in no time flat,” he said. “After all, these folks were paying their water bill. By the way, they were also paying for sewer and trash service that they didn’t get.”
    Falletti realized that it was a matter of digging some trenches, laying in some pipe, not a complicated or expensive thing to manage. He went to City Hall and spoke to the City of Tulsa Commissioner of Waterworks and Sewage and explained the situation.
    The commissioner explained to him that there were rules that said water lines could not be run to homes without indoor plumbing.
    None of the homes in that area had indoor plumbing because, of course, they had no water.
    Falletti spoke with the mayor, who again explained the rules to him, and said that someday the residents of the area would get water, with them having to pay for the lines on their property.
    Falletti drew up plans for laying the pipe and got the Rockwell International Good Neighbor Fund, of which he was chairman, to put up $1,000 to pay for materials. Volunteers came from Neighbor for Neighbor and Rockwell, and the neighborhood finally had water.
    Mrs, Falletti and her husband also started a free health clinic in their living room.
    “It started with seven volunteers and grew to over 350 volunteers over a 30-year period,” he said. “The clinic has provided over $1 million in health care for free.”
    Dan Allen died of  brain cancer in 1995, but the Dan Allen Center for Social Justice was founded in 2010 to carry on his advocacy with educational programs about social justice. Mrs. Falletti is current vice president.
    In the past, many in southeast Kansas were involved in seeking social justice, including the Amazon Army march, consisting of  women protesting in support of miners seeking a living wage and safer working conditions. Many reforms, including the eight-hour working day, eventually came out of these efforts.
    Perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Falletti are following in those footsteps.
    “My wife and I share a great deal of pride in our respective towns and would be proud to be able to say that Frontenac and Pittsburg led the way in the State of Kansas to improve the quality of life for all Kansans,” Falletti said.
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