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September 16, 2009 > Chaplain Valencia awarded recognition

Chaplain Valencia awarded recognition

By Corinne Davis
Photos By Corinne Davis

Chaplain Albert Valencia and members of the City of Union City Police Department chose to adopt an unnamed infant girl found dead in a trash bin with her umbilical cord still attached. They wanted to give her an appropriate funeral to honor her short life. The police dispatcher who took the call on May 18 named her Matea, meaning "gift of god" in Hebrew, and Esperanza, meaning "hope" in Spanish.

Valencia gave generously of his own time and resources, volunteering to coordinate and arrange the funeral service. Community members responded and also gave generously. Baby Matea was buried in a white christening dress and bonnet surrounded by flowers as Valencia officiated.

"Nothing has touched my life more than this experience," he said.

Even though the circumstances of the infant girl's birth remain a mystery, her death found meaning because it brought public attention to California's Safely Surrendered Baby Law that allows mothers to surrender their newborns three days after birth at hospitals, fire stations and police stations.

Union City Council recognized Chaplain Albert Valencia for his selflessness and commitment to the community while remembering the short life of Matea Esperanza.

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