A Proven Model for Helping Kids Wednesday, Feb 18, 2015 Page Image Page Content This article is written by Ivy Jelden. It was published February 18, 2015 at ocregister.com. Father Flanagan started Boys Town in 1917 in the outskirts of Omaha, Nebraska. Some of you might remember the famous 1938 movie “Boys Town," that sparked a great interest in this new project that reached out to delinquent boys.Spencer Tracy, who portrayed Flanagan in the movie, is best remembered for quoting the founder’s heartfelt creed: "There isn't any such thing in the world as a bad boy.” This one-liner still holds true, except that both girls and boys from infants through high school graduation live in the homes.I just visited Boys Town, right here in the beautiful foothills of Trabuco Canyon. The five homes filled with about 30 children are nestled on a gorgeous property with amazing views.But the best part is that almost a century has passed since the inception of Boys Town and the impact on lives has been tremendous. In a recent survey taken by alumni, 97 percent said they recommend the program. One hundred percent are no longer abused, and 89 percent are pursuing higher education.AAlisa Driscoll, associate development director, said, “Boys Town has proven to be ahead of the curve and the California Clearing House on Juvenile Justice has given their stamp of approval. We combine a loving family atmosphere with programs that work.”While I was taking the tour and meeting the family teaching couple who run each home, I met a former resident, Christiana Martin. This young woman is now an accomplished horse photographer and has worked through many of her past struggles.She resided in one of the homes from age 13 to 18, at which time she left for college. Her story is a familiar one, living with parents with addictions, resulting in abuse and neglect. Instead of landing in foster care or a group home situation, Martin qualified to be at Boy’s Town.Martin said, “I fondly remember baking cookies, eating dinner together like a family. They are still my ‘extended family,’ and I want to be involved in helping the kids.”A few weeks ago a friend introduced me to another alumnus of BoysTown, Jesse Goems. He was taken away from his parents at age 10 with a similar backdrop of parental drug addiction. He was getting into trouble and was sent to Juvenile Hall. Goems was then placed in a group home, but through a series of events landed in Boys Town.He said, “Boys Town was a life-saver and made me who I am today. It took me a while to adjust to structure and family life, but people believed in me and saw my potential.”The program stresses learning life skills, including budgeting, relationships, and very importantly, developing a strong Christian faith. Children attend Saddleback Church services.I am very impressed with Boys Town obvious success. Plans are in the works in 2015 that include reaching out to the community and increasing support to alumni during the early adult years.