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Best Do-Gooder 

Felicia Safir

Felicia Safir's title — manager of School-Based Services for the Kansas City, Missouri, School District — says nothing about the most time-consuming aspect of the job. For five years, she has coordinated the nurses and the health programs at each of the city's public schools, which is full-time work in itself. But programs for the district's most vulnerable students — homeless kids — keep her working overtime on holidays and weekends. For the district's purposes, any kid who lives somewhere besides the home of his or her biological parent or guardian is considered "homeless," a definition that lumps kids out on the streets and surfing on couches in the same category as those who've simply moved with their parents into their grandparents' houses. As many as 280 of the KCMSD's students were identified as homeless over the 2008–09 school year. Safir urges them to call her on nights like New Year's Eve to let her know they're safe and fed. Kids who get teased for smelling bad are likely to drop out, which is why Safir arranges for them to be let into the schools' showers before the school day begins to clean up and get dressed, so that their peers won't know. This year, Safir filled out student aid applications for nine homeless seniors who were college-bound. She's as proud of them as she is her own son, who is also headed to college this fall. It makes her feel like Octomom, she says. To us, it makes her look like a hero.

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