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boys-town-californias-family-night-sees-positive-impactBoys Town California's Family Night Sees Positive ImpactCalifornia
Monday, Dec 5, 2016

​​Family bonding and spending time together is ​essential to building strong, healthy relationships between parents and their children. Recognizing the need for families to set aside at least one night to spend time together, Boys Town California recently partnered with OCHealth to hold a monthly family night.

While most families have the time to spend together, they may struggle with finding activities to do all together. This is where California's Family Night comes in. Boys Town California offers a fun- filled night free of charge to families from all levels of the continuum of care and is even open for anyone in the community to attend.

Snacks and games are available to attendees and prizes or gifts can be won through an assortment of different games. Numerous tables are set up to host both individual activities and group activities. Coloring sheets and crayons are available for individuals, and games such as Jenga, UNO and Chutes and Ladders are brought out to encourage whole families to play together. Even larger games such as bingo or balloon tennis are available to bring multiple families together to work together as a team and play for prizes.

For the month of October, Boys Town California held their monthly family night on Friday, October 21, 2016 at the Courtyard by Marriot at the Santa Ana/Orange Country location. This evening was "Superheroes vs Villains" themed and families were encouraged to come dressed as their favorite villain or hero. Families came dressed in costumes and actual superheroes and villains were in attendance to meet the guests. Families went through the process of creating a name for their character, coloring masks and then playing games with the other heroes and villains.

"The main purpose of Family Night is to bring families together and provide them with a structured environment to build positive memories and relationships between children and parents," Angela Myers Boys Town California Volunteer Coordinator said. "But Family Night also creates an environment for the volunteers to meet and interact with the families they are mentoring through Boys Town's Family Matching Program. This overall keeps families connected with Boys Town."

Family Matching focuses on creating helpful peer-to-peer relationships between families with a member struggling with mental or behavioral health issues and trained Volunteer Family Mentors who have had similar experiences.

Each month, Boys Town California welcomes around 20-30 families and about 30-15 children to their Family Night and sees firsthand the impact that family bonding has on their clients and on the community.​

A-Search-Well-EndedA Search Well EndedCalifornia
Azahel’s journey to success started when he found a home at Boys Town California.
Thursday, Sep 29, 2016

​​Growing up in Santa Ana, California, Azahel  just wanted a safe place to call home.

The problem was, that place didn't exist where he lived. Gangs ruled the streets of his neighborhood and people were dying in shootings. For years, Azahel had suffered abuse and neglect at the hands of his mom.  And things didn't get much better when he was removed from his home and started to bounce from one foster placement to another.

He was 15 before he eventually found that safe place. It was Boys Town California.

"When I got to Boys Town on the first day, I definitely felt more free," Azahel said. "I had slept through the night well knowing that I wasn't at a shelter. I was in more of a home environment."

Boys Town California not only provided a home with rules and structure, a first for Azahel, but also gave him hope.  His Family-Teachers®, Candice and Roussell White, made sure he got caught up at school and attended all of his required counseling sessions. Most importantly, they taught him the basic life skills that so many kids in foster care lack – how to make good decisions, how to apply for college, how to find a place to live, how to manage money and many others.

Today, Azahel has a new family of his own with a couple that adopted him. He's graduated from high school, where he played on the football team, and is active in his church. His plans include attending college and pursuing a career in law enforcement, maybe even becoming a police officer so he can go back to his old neighborhood in Santa Ana and make a positive difference in the lives of other young people.

All because he found that safe place to call home.

"Without Boys Town I wouldn't be as healed as I am now," Azahel said. "I wouldn't have big dreams, motivation, goals. Boys Town gave me a heart."​

Boys-Town-California-to-Celebrate-25th-Anniversary-in-NovemberBoys Town California to Celebrate 25th Anniversary in NovemberCalifornia
Monday, Sep 19, 2016

​​​​Irish Priest's Mission Serving Children and Families Lives On

This article is written by Cathi Douglas. It was published August 21, 2016 in OC Catholic Weekly.

Father Edward J. Flanagan, who built Boys Town on a 75-acre farm west of Omaha, Nebraska in 1921, once said: "There's no such thing as a bad boy."

Today Father Flanagan's insightful sentiment is carried on decades later on the original property and at 11 affiliate locations across the U.S. including Boys Town California, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this fall.

Since opening in 1991, Boys Town California has grown to touch the lives of 48,000 people each year. It operates several family homes in Trabuco Canyon and Tustin, as well as offering In-Home Family ServicesSM and Community Support Services.​

"All our programs emphasize healing and faith," explains Boys Town California Executive Director Lawren Ramos. "We give desperate kids hope, keep families together, and help parents succeed. Our mission is to change the way America cares for children, families and communities."

Family struggles do not discriminate, Ramos notes, and Boys Town California works with families in crisis throughout Orange County – from wealthy Coto de Caza to the west side of Sana Ana to affluent Huntington Beach.

In supporting children and families, Ramos says, Boys Town California also advocates for systemic change.

"Father Flanagan created the village of Boys Town to set children on a new path. He did what was right for kids. He housed kids of all ​races in the same buildings. He did it because he knew that deep inside we're uniquely made in the image of our Creator – and each of us is uniquely made for something special."

Interestingly, Father Flanagan began his ministry by reaching out to homeless men after doing research to find out how to make their lives better. One day a man asked him, "Where were you when I was 14?" That haunting question prompted Father Flanagan to seek the assistance of Henry Monsky, a Jewish attorney who saw injustices every day in the Omaha courthouse. Monsky was the first donor to support the organization. "Boys Town was founded in Father Flanagan's heart," Ramos says.

At the time of its founding and for decades following, Ramos says, some Midwest community leaders criticized Father Flanagan for opening Boys Town's doors to boys of all races, backgrounds and religions. A nondenominational organization, Boys Town is unrelated to the Catholic Church, but Father Flanagan himself currently is on a path to possible sainthood.

"One of the things Father Flanagan said is that every boy must pray, but how he prays is up to him," Ramos says. "We encourage them to connect to their own religion and faith. If a kid comes to us and they are Buddhist, we will help them grow in that faith."

One 14-year-old girl arrived at Boys Town California after being placed in 26 different foster, group and other homes, Ramos recalls. "She had a pretty horrible existence. Each time a child has to leave a home, they leave everything behind. It breaks my heart to see kids come into the program and knowing all the heartache, pain and suffering they have to deal with."

That teenage girl now is a successful working adult with a family of her own, Ramos notes.

"She said thank you to me for giving her multiple chances. That is living out our faith of giving grace and forgiveness. We're supposed to forgive, so we do that at Boys Town. The kids become part of our family."

Ramos is proud to note that Boys Town California teens have a 90 percent success rate for graduating from high school.

"We want to continue to carry on Father Flanagan's dream and change how we care for children locally. We want to be a beacon, a light in the world for how we take care of kids."

Throughout the nation, the Boys Town affiliates help thousands of children each year with the Boys Town Integrated Continuum of Care®, which delivers the right care at the right time to help children and families who are edging toward crisis. The program's National Hotline fields more than 170,000 calls annually; its education programs reach 225,000 teachers, families and children; and Boys Town provides direct services to 75,000 people each year.​​

Locally, Boys Town California services include in-home counseling, a behavioral health clinic, parenting classes, support groups and family and peer mentoring, in addition to the four Family Homes for Adolescents and one Family Home for Young Children located on 80 acres in Trabuco Canyon and two Family Homes for siblings in Tustin.

Boys Town has a long history of serving as an excellent steward of donor support. It received one of the highest rankings from Charity Navigator, one of the nation's largest and most-respected charity rating systems.

The Boys Town California 2016 Silver Jubilee Night of Hope gala will take place on November 5 at the Resort at Pelican Hill on Newport Coast. More than 300 are expected to attend. Last year's gala raised more than $145,0o00, with all the proceeds going directly to help children and families in need. This year's target is more than $175,000. For sponsorship information, to register, or other questions, go to secure.boystown.org/CA_NOH/​ or call 714-558-0303.​

united-states-mint-unveils-designs-for-boys-town-centennial-commemorative-coinsUnited States Mint Unveils Designs for Boys Town Centennial Commemorative CoinsCalifornia
Wednesday, Aug 24, 2016

​​​​This press release was published on usmint.gov August 23, 2016.

Designs for coins commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of Boys Town were unveiled today during a ceremony at Boys Town Music Hall in Boys Town, Neb.

"Each time a person looks at any one of these unique designs, it will spark an interest in learning about the history of Boys Town, acknowledging the extraordinary efforts made by this organization ​to give comfort and purpose to children in need, and recognizing the significant contributions of Father Flanagan," said United States Mint Principal Deputy Director Rhett Jeppson.

Jeppson was joined by Boys Town​ representatives Cordell Cade and Kymani Bell, mayor and vice mayor, respectively; Dan Daly, Executive Vice President, Director of Youth Care; and Jerry Davis, Vice President of Advocacy.

Public Law 114-30 authorizes the Mint to mint and issue no more than 50,000 $5 gold, 350,000 $1 silver, and 300,000 half dollar clad coins with designs emblematic of the centennial of Boys Town. 

The gold coin obverse (heads) features a portrait of Father Flanagan.  Inscriptions include "BOYS TOWN CENTENNIAL," "IN GOD WE TRUST," "FR. EDWARD FLANAGAN," "LIBERTY," and "2017."  The obverse was designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Designer Donna Weaver and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart.

The gold coin reverse (tails) features an outstretched hand holding a young oak tree growing from an acorn.  As ​stated in the idiom "Mighty oaks from little acorns grow," this design represents the potential of each child helped by Boys Town to grow into a productive, complete adult.  Inscriptions include "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "THE WORK WILL CONTINUE," "FIVE DOLLARS," and "E PLURIBUS UNUM."  The reverse was also designed by Weaver and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Jim Licaretz.

The silver $1 coin obverse features a young girl sitting alone and gazing upward into the branches of an oak tree looking for help.  The empty space around the girl is deliberate and meant to show the child's sense of loneliness, isolation, and helplessness.  Inscriptions include "BOYS TOWN," "When you help a child today...," "IN GOD WE TRUST," "LIBERTY," and "1917-2017."

The obverse was designed by AIP Designer Emily Damstra and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna. 

The coin's reverse features an oak tree offering shelter and a sense of belonging to the family holding hands below it, which includes the girl from the obverse.  Inscriptions include "...you write the history of tomorrow," "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "ONE DOLLAR," and "E PLURIBUS UNUM."  The reverse was also designed by Damstra and sculpted by Menna.

The clad half dollar obverse features an older brother holding the hand of his younger brother in 1917.  They walk toward Father Flanagan's Boys Home and the 1940s pylon representing what would become Boys Town.  Inscriptions include "BOYS TOWN," "1917," "2017," "IN GOD WE TRUST," "LIBERTY," and "Saving Children."  The obverse was designed by AIP Designer Chris Costello and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Renata Gordon.

The coin's reverse features a present-day Boys Town neighborhood of homes where children are schooled and nurtured by caring families.  Out of these homes come young adults who graduate from high school and the Boys Town program.  Inscriptions include "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "E PLURIBUS UNUM," "Healing Families," and "HALF DOLLAR."  The reverse was also designed by Costello and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill.

Pricing for the Boys Town Centennial Commemorative Coins will include surcharges-$35 for each $5 gold coin, $10 for each $1 silver coin, and $5 for each half dollar clad coin-which are authorized to be paid to Boys Town to carry out its cause of caring for and assisting children and families in underserved communities across America.

The Mint will announce the release date and additional pricing information for the Boys Town Centennial Commemorative Coins prior to their release in 2017.

 
california-builds-stronger-bonds-through-mud-runCalifornia Builds Stronger Bonds Through Mud Run California
Monday, Jun 27, 2016

​​The Camp Pendleton Marine Corp Mud Run is one of the toughest courses in Southern California; but that didn’t stop the Boys Town California In-Home Family Services (IHFS) team from competing on June 4, 2016. The idea of participating began as an opportunity to support the Marines but quickly grew into an activity that involved the entire IHFS team.

Preparation for the run began months in advance. Employees worked out on their own in addition to holding group training sessions multiple times a week. These team sessions helped to build strength, endurance and educated members on the fitness goals of their colleagues. 

“I would not have been able to do this without anyone else but the In-Home team,” said Marina, Pacheco-Barrera, In-Home Family Services Consultant, following the race. “The support was huge and it motivates me to strive for more runs in the future.”  Together, the Boys Town California IHFS team supported each other’s mental preparation to complete the run.

Boys Town California’s involvement in the Mud Run allowed participants to increase their physical strength and mental stamina while creating stronger bonds within the program.

These bonds resulted in increased support and a new found importance of engaging in a healthy lifestyle to better serve their clients. Family Consultants applied these values when working with the families they serve – overcoming obstacles to achieve a common goal.

“Crossing the finish line together was not only a great thing for the Mud Run, but it shows how we worked as a team,” said Justina Ryan, In-Home Family Services Supervisor. “We support each other to achieve our goals for ourselves, the program, and our families.”

Boys Town California Executive Director Lawren Ramos took note of the hard work and dedication of the IHFS team; noting that in addition to their passion and skills, it’s also their strong bonds that help them achieve success. “Sitting in our In-Home Family Services team meeting, I am brought to tears by their passion for healing families, their skills to actually create change in lives, but more importantly how they do life together. They have something really special going on,” he said. 

To learn more about careers at Boys Town California, visit boystown.org/careers.

boys-town-california-shines-spotlight-on-mental-healthBoys Town California Shines Spotlight on Mental Health California
Tuesday, Jun 14, 2016

​​Boys Town California is taking on mental and behavioral health issues in the Orange County, California, community through their Community Support Services, including Common Sense Parenting® workshops, Community Support Groups, Parent Connectors Program, and Family ​Matching.

“Many families in our community are struggling with mental or behavioral health issues that arise from the daily challenges family members face, thus all of our programs focus on teaching skills and providing the necessary support to make sure families are finding the right kind of help easier and faster,” said Luciana Alessandrini, Supervisor, Family Support Services.

Each community support service is tailored to fit the needs of children and adults who are on the brink of crisis. Common Sense Parenting workshops offer specific training on parenting skills, while Community Support Groups provide help through sharing personal experiences, listening to and accepting others’ experiences, providing sympathetic understanding, establishing  social networks and showing adults how to connect with community resources to meet their needs.

The Parent Conn​ectors Program and Family Matching, focuses more on individualized care. Through weekly contact, trained Parent Connectors provide information and individualized instructional and emotional support for families in need. Family Matching creates helpful peer-to-peer relationships between families with a member struggling with mental or behavioral health issues and volunteer mentors who have had similar experiences.

“We continuously strive to provide quality educational and advocacy services. As a team we always try to identify the needs of a community first, and adapt our services accordingly,” said Alessandrini. “We pride ourselves in making sure we offer the right services at the right time. Our Community Support Group program continuously creates new workshops based on the interest and needs of the participants at hand.”

Last month, in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, Boys Town California hosted six different workshops specifically promoting positive mental health, managing stress, and dealing with day-to-day challenges. More than 130 Orange County residents attended the workshops, which offered Boys Town’s expert advice on coping with mental and behavioral challenges that Americans face every day.

While National Mental Health Awareness Month provided a platform to promote Boys Town’s services, Alessandrini explains that the California site continues to find ways to spread awareness of Boys Town’s programs throughout the year. “We take as many opportunities as possible to attend community events, resource fairs, and school events to let families know we are here to help,” she said.   

Since last July, Boys Town California's Community Support Services have seen great success, serving approximately 1,832 adults and 3,931 children.

donation-and-grant-support-for-boys-town-californiaDonation and Grant Support for Boys Town CaliforniaCalifornia
Monday, Jun 13, 2016

​​​​​​​​Boys Town California has recently been named the recipient of a grant from Center Club Orange County Cares and a donation from Smart & Final totaling $6,500. This is the first time Boys Town California has received either of these gifts.

Boys Town California applied for the grant through Center Club Orange County Cares and was excited to hear it had been chosen for the $4,000 grant in May. The m​oney from the grant will be used to directly support Boys Town California’s Family Home Program.

Smart & Final, a chain of warehouse stores, recently opened a location in Rancho Santa Margarita and wanted to support a charity that was directly in the community. As the manager of the store said, “Who doesn’t know Boys Town!” Boys Town was chosen as the community partner and received a $2,500 donation to be used to support the mission.

Thank you to Smart & Final, Center Club Orange County, and all of the community sponsors who help Boys Town save children and heal families all over the country.

boys-town-california-says-cheers-to-its-fourth-annual-uncork-for-hopeBoys Town California Says, "Cheers!" to its Fourth Annual Uncork for HopeCalifornia
Friday, Jun 10, 2016

​​​Another successful Uncork for Hope took place Sunday, May 1 at the Center Club in Costa Mesa, California. This year’s event included a Taste of Hope pre-dinner at North Italian Restaurant and dinner for sponsors and winemakers at a supporter’s home, leading up to the sold-out fundraiser.

Nearly 300 guests enjoyed sipping on wine from 17 local winemakers, while bidding on items in the event’s silent and live auctions. Each year, Boys Town California also honors a person who lives out Boys Town’s mission of Saving Children and Healing Families®. The 2016 recipient of the Champion of Hope Award is Tilly Levine, who was chosen for her work with children in Orange County. Read more about Tilly below:

We are honored to have Tilly Levine as this year’s Champion for Hope recipient. Tilly, the Co-Founder of Tilly’s Inc. and Founder of Tilly’s Life Center, continues to make an impact in our community. After coming to California at the age of 23, Tilly set out on a mission to change the world for kids, especially those from disadvantaged situations. This mission is what initiated her to create Tilly’s Life Center, a place to inspire youngsters to learn self-esteem and empowerment. Through her positive mind, generous spirit and uplifting personality, Tilly has been involved with Boys Town California for over 16 years and we are grateful for her support.

Through the hard work of all of the staff, organizers, and sponsors, the event raised approximately $110,000. Thank you to all of those who continue to support the life-changing work at Boys Town California!

Read ​medi​a coverage on the event.

hoping-saving-and-healingHoping, Saving... and HealingCalifornia
(L to R) Jon McClintock, Chris Sarten, Adam Miller and Rob Magnotta. Photo by Katya Williams.
Friday, May 20, 2016

​This ​article is written by Rick Weinberg, Editor, California Business Journal . It was posted on calbizjournal.com on May 20, 2016.

His name is Thomas. That’s it – just Thomas. He went through 22 foster homes before he was old enough to even drive. He never knew what it meant to be part of a family. He never knew what it meant to be truly loved and cared for.

Until he arrived at Boys Town.

Boys Town is one of the largest non-profit child-care agencies in the country with two major facilities in Southern California. Founded almost 100 years ago and headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska with 11 facilities nationally, Boys Town provides compassionate treatment for the behavioral, emotional and physical problems of all children – boys and girls — and their families. The success rate at Boys Town – along with the graduation rate of its participants – are off the charts.

Just recently, Boys Town California held its annual fundraiser, Uncork for Hope,  at the exclusive Center Club Orange County in Costa Mesa, Calif. The event was packed – standing room only – and raised more than $110,000 in donations.  This year’s party featured 17 wineries pouring complimentary wine, including Alta Colina, Arietta, Argot, Attune, Bevan Cellars, Chase Cellars, Cimarossa, Clos Solene, Desparada, Herman Story, Lando, Law Estate Wines, Lombardi, Peirson Meyer, Revana, Rodney Strong Wine Estates and Saint Helena Winery.

The primary sponsors of the event included FirstTeam Real Estate and Christie’s International Real Estate, The George and Terry Schreyer Charitable Foundation, the law firm of Miller Miller Menthe, Balboa Wealth Partners, Northwestern Mutual, James and Alexandra Downey, Mikel Cimmino Inc., Hartman Law Firm, Joshua Chase Jewelers, Dr. L. Richard Van Meter and Ticor Title.

“Phenomenal event, phenomenal turnout,” said Adam Miller, the chair of the Uncork for Hope Committee and managing partner at the law firm of Miller Miller Menthe LLP. “We could not have dreamed of more support from the Orange County community and local supporters of Boys Town California.”

Uncork for Hope was Miller’s idea. He came up with it four years ago. The event has been an unprecedented success … with many more successful years to follow.

“Boys Town is a very special and unique organization,” Miller says. “It really makes a difference in children’s lives. The graduation rate of children at Boys Town is higher than the general population. That says it all. When I heard about Boys Town, and learned about its impact and successes, I knew this was an organization that I wanted to support and be a part of.”

Thomas – the young boy introduced at the beginning of this article — experienced one success after another after entering Boys Town. He went to college, majoring in psychology and philosophy. He worked on Capitol Hill. He has been a featured speaker at a number of events and he plans to obtain a master’s degree in social work while pursuing a career as a clinical psychologist for foster youth.

“What Boys Town does is invest in you,” he says. “They took me, this lost kid, and made me into something.”

High school graduation for Boys Town participants is 91% versus 64% for non Boys Town students. Additionally, employment for Boys Town boys and girls is 66% versus 47% for non Boys Town graduates.

Lawren Ramos began working at Boys Town 12 years ago as a Youth Care Worker. He remains there today — as the Executive Director.

“Once you see the transformation these children make – turning a terrible life that could lead to death or prison into a productive life – you can’t help but want to be a part of it,” Ramos says. “That’s what happened to me. I couldn’t leave. We take many children with no hope, no future and make them productive members of society and the workforce. I get tremendous satisfaction working in this capacity for the cause of helping children and families.”

Boys Town was originally established for at risk boys only. Soon, organizers opened the facility up to girls and renamed the organization to reflect the admission of girls. The organization has had as much of a positive impact on girls as it has had on boys.

Take Diana. Like Thomas, her life was spiraling out of control. She was kicked out of her already-unstable home by their mother’s husband at the age of 14. The only place Diana and her older sister could find refuge was in a drug house.

Eventually, they had to resort to selling drugs just to keep a roof over their head and stay alive.

One day, an argument in the house resulted in the death of a drug dealer. The dealer who committed the crime ordered Diana to clean up the bloody crime scene. When police arrived, Diana was arrested and placed in a juvenile detention center. She thought her life was over.

Soon, she discovered Boys Town, applied to get in and was accepted. The compassionate care and teaching helped transform her into a confident young woman and a vastly different person from the scared teen who had arrived from a detention center.

Diana graduated in 2001, attended Creighton University on a full scholarship and later went to law school there, earning double master’s degrees. Today, she works at a law firm in Arizona.

“Boys Town doesn’t give up on you,” she says. “It’s not just like you’re there and then you leave. They teach you to build healthier relationships and they care about you. It shows you that there are better things out there.”

Since opening in California 1991, Boys Town California has continued to expand its services to meet the needs of troubled children and families. The site has four Family Homes for Adolescents and one Family Home for Young Children on 80 acres in Trabuco Canyon in Orange County, as well as two Family Homes for siblings in Tustin. Boys Town California also provides I n-Home Family Services and Community Support Services.

“These programs and services impact the lives of over 19,500 kids and families in California each year,” says Jon McClintock, a committee member with Uncork for Hope and Board Member of Boys Town California.

Nationally, Boys Town touches the lives of over two million people annually.

Boys Town was founded in 1917 as an orphanage for boys and has grown into a pioneering nonprofit organization dedicated to helping troubled youth.

Boys Town has been admitting girls since 1979. From 2000 to 2007, the organization was named Girls and Boys Town, before changing back to Boys Town.

In a striking recognition that hardship knows no gender or race, Boys Town soon will introduce a new symbol at its entrance, a statue of an older boy carrying a littler girl on his back. The young man is black, the girl is white.

Congress has authorized the U.S. Mint to produce a series of coins commemorating Boys Town’s 100th anniversary in 2017.

boys-town-employee-gives-the-gift-of-life-to-a-stranger-in-needBoys Town Employee Gives the Gift of Life to a Stranger in NeedCalifornia
Monday, Apr 25, 2016

​​​Every day, Boys Town employees provide healing and hope to at-risk children and families. For one employee, flying half way across the country to provide healing and hope to a family she didn’t know, was an easy decision to make.

This past February, Stephanie Hausman, Child Care Specialist at Boys Town California, donated her kidney to a complete stranger. Her journey began when she viewed a video online about the vast number of people in America on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. For Stephanie, that video hit very close to home. A few years ago, Stephanie’s father donated his own kidney to her grandfather. Stephanie decided it was her turn to save someone’s life.

After calling local hospitals in Orange County, California, she found that donating to a stranger proved difficult. Frustrated, she mentioned her struggle to a friend who lived in Los Angeles. Her friend, in-turn, introduced Stephanie to his co-worker. The co-worker’s father, Bob, who lived in Chicago, was in desperate need of a kidney.

After discovering that Stephanie and Bob were a match, plans were set to make her dream a reality. Stephanie and Bob, a retired special education teacher, driver’s education teacher, and softball coach, bonded almost immediately. Their connection would grow to become like family in the coming months.

Months of blood tests, urine tests, chest x-rays, EKGs, and CT scans followed, along with a trip to Chicago to meet with the surgeon, kidney specialist, transplant coordinator, dietician, and social worker who would become Stephanie’s medical team.

The transplant took place on February 23, 2016 at the University of Chicago Hospital. Two days after surgery, Stephanie was walking around, and two weeks later, she was able to return home to California. Recovery itself has been relatively easy, and after eight weeks, Stephanie will be able to return to all of her normal activities with, as she said, “Just a few awesome scars.”

With her donation, Stephanie will experience very little effect on her body. Her remaining kidney will grow to compensate for the loss of the other one, and her chances of having kidney failure in the future increases by only a slim margin. Additionally, because of her donation, Stephanie will be put near the top of the donation list, should she ever need a new kidney one day.

“Donating my kidney has been one of the best decisions I ever made. I was able to help a man get off dialysis, which he was on 5 hours a day twice a week, so that he could spend more time with his family,” Stephanie said. “I gained a whole new family, and all it cost me was a small piece of me that I don’t even need to survive. I’ve become so close to the Mueller family, and it’s been amazing to see how one little kidney could impact so many people’s lives. If I could give my other kidney, I would in a heartbeat. Doing this has made me more aware of the impact we have on one another and that we should all really step up and help each other more.”​

Stephanie and the Mueller family are still in contact almost every day, as they finish their recoveries together. She plans to visit Chicago for Christmas to celebrate life as a new extended family.

an-egg-cellent-easter-event-brings-together-youth-families-and-staff-at-boys-town-californiaAn Egg-cellent Easter Event Brings Together Youth, Families and Staff at Boys Town CaliforniaCalifornia
Friday, Apr 22, 2016

​On March 20, ​Family-Teaching Couple Matt and Megan Milner welcomed 25 guests into their Family Home on the Boys Town California Tustin Campus to celebrate the Easter season. Youth, their families, Boys Town staff, and volunteers were invited to participate in activities, including crafts, an Easter egg hunt, and lunch.

The event provided an opportunity to showcase the Family Homes on the Tustin Campus, which opened eight months ago, to staff from the Trabuco Canyon campus. The patio, grassy area, and large double doors made the home a perfect location to entertain guests and enjoy the weather.

Hosting events such as the Easter event or last year’s Fourth of July event help the parents of youth better understand the services Boys Town provides and the care their children are receiving on a daily basis.

“We believe these events are important especially for our home, because since opening in July, we have youth whose families are very involved in their lives and are working towards reunification,” said Megan Milner. “It also allows our kids to use more skills related to hosting guests, participating and leading group activities, and showing their families their new skills.”

The Milner’s hope the Easter event becomes an annual tradition. Although the children in each Family Home may change, the memories created through holidays, celebrations, and events last a lifetime.

Learn more about the Family Home Program and Family-Teaching Couples at Boys Town.

teen-rises-above-painful-past-to-chart-bright-futureTeen Rises Above Painful Past to Chart Bright FutureCalifornia
Yesenia found hope and courage on her journey of healing with Boys Town California’s help.
Monday, Mar 7, 2016

Yesenia ​came to Boys Town California as a young girl whose childhood and innocence had been robbed by abuse, neglect, and pain.

Growing up in Riverside with her younger sister, Yesenia endured daily beatings at the hands of her mother. She was further victimized when her mother’s boyfriend began abusing her. Yesenia, who was only 8 years old, found the courage to tell a teacher what was happening, and she and her sister were removed from their home.

But the hurt Yesenia had suffered didn’t end there. Traumatized and lacking any family support, she lashed out, getting into fights with other girls and enclosing herself in a tough shell of self-preservation.

After a number of failed placements and runaways, 14-year-old Yesenia became part of a family in Boys Town California’s residential program. Her Family-Teachers ®, Jess and Christin Montoya, welcomed her with patience and love, trying to help the teen quiet her aggressive behaviors and adjust to the structure and order of the Family Home.

It took a while, but Yesenia gradually accepted the safe, nurturing environment she was in and began to make positive changes in her life. Through the Montoyas’ teaching and with the help of trauma therapy, Yesenia began a transformation, both emotionally and physically, that put her on a path toward healing.

Today, Yesenia lives in a foster home in Rancho Santa Margarita and is a senior in high school. She is doing well in her classes and has a part-time job. And, for the first time in many years, she can see a brighter future ahead.

boys-town-california-scores-again-with-coto-for-the-cureBoys Town California Scores Again with Coto for the CureCalifornia
Wednesday, Feb 10, 2016

All throughout the year, all over the country, Boys Town ® locations are partnering with organizations to find creative ways to expand the reach of the Boys Town mission.

Recently, for the fourth year in a row, Boys Town California was chosen as the recipient of proceeds for the annual Coto for the Cure tennis fundraiser.

Held in late November about a mile from the Boys Town campus, the two-day event included a cocktail party with hors d'oeuvres and a tennis tournament. This year, food and drinks were provided by California Pizza Kitchen. Boys Town youth love to watch the event, and are even provided free food and drink throughout. Boys Town California Development Director Christina Garkovich adds: "our whole board supports the event and comes out for the party."

Open to the public, funds are earned through ticket sales and a live auction. Amateurs bid on tennis pros to compete for a place on their teams. This year the tournament included its regular bill of professionals who play alongside amateurs on teams of two.

Garkovich goes on to say, "Coto for the Cure has been instrumental in helping Boys Town California raise over $129,000 over the last four years. We are continually grateful for their support of our mission and the kids and families we serve."​

Congratulations to Boys Town California and the Coto for the Cure team for orchestrating another successful event!

boys-town-californias-night-of-hope-was-a-marvelous-successBoys Town California's Night of Hope Was a Marvelous SuccessCalifornia
Monday, Nov 2, 2015

​Picture this: ​an elegant resort overlooking the California oceanside, black and white décor accenting a cocktail bar where guests can watch the sun set, and an acrobat hanging upside-down pouring champagne into crystal glasses. These magical touches and others made this year’s Night of Hope an evening to remember.

With a vintage circus theme, the event was held October 17 at Pelican Hill and was truly an enchanted showcase for its 220 guests. The event team went above and beyond, and it paid off – Development Director Christina Garkovich says they raised over $140,000 from the night.

The aerialist group Circo Etereo returned to perform their mesmerizing act and a Maserati was on display, but even so, the glamour did not overshadow the message of this fundraiser. Rather, the exuberance served to underscore the community’s dedication to the mission of Boys Town, which was loud and clear, making the night as heartwarming as it was beautiful.

Not only did previous Boys Town youth Christiana Martin provide photography, but two other previous Boys Town youth were featured. The primary speaker of the night was Yesenia Rodriguez, who shared her moving Boys Town story with the audience. Christina Garkovich recounts that “it was pretty powerful. There were lots of tears.”Azahel Toredo also returned this year to deliver the prayer, after telling his inspirational Boys Town story at last year’s Night of Hope.

In addition to the youth, multiple speakers made the night memorable: Boys Town California Executive Director Lawren Ramos spoke, KTLA5’s news anchor Chris Schauble was highly entertaining as master of ceremonies, and television host and singer Matt Roger was a hit as the auctioneer. Roger helped solidify the importance of the auction for helping Boys Town expand its reach. “He really connected with everyone and learned a lot about the mission and vision of Boys Town,” adds Garkovich. She goes on: “It was a really fun evening. Everyone had a really good time.”

The auction was a resounding success, too, with 86 items sold in the silent auction and 7 items sold live. One particular sale stood out: a one-of-a-kind Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle which went for $16,000.

The evening also included time to honor both Coto for the Cure, a charitable organization in Coto De Caza, California, and board member Rosanne O’Brien for their contributions to Boys Town California. The event would not have been possible, of course, without the generous support of its sponsors, including: Gordon Csutak, Hartmann Law Firm, IMA/KCOMM, Jon McClintock, Miller Miller Menthe, Rosanne O’Brien, South County Lexus, and the Zarley Family Foundation.

Boys Town California wishes to offer a heartfelt thank you to everyone who helped make the night such a success, and such a celebration of the Boys Town mission.

dr-luis-morales-knight-promoted-to-director-of-california-behavioral-health-clinicDr. Luis Morales Knight Promoted to Director of California Behavioral Health ClinicCalifornia
Dr. Luis Morales Knight has been named Director of Outpatient Behavioral Health Services for Boys Town California
Tuesday, Jul 28, 2015

Dr. Luis ​Morales Knight has been promoted to Director of Outpatient Behavioral Health Services for Boys Town California. Prior to his promotion, he worked as a Staff Psychologist at the Behavioral Health Clinic from July 2013 to March 2015.

Born and raised in California’s Central Coast region, Dr. Knight graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Linguistics in 2001.

He went back to school, completing a master’s degree in psychology at Pepperdine University. He then entered the University of Nebraska’s doctoral program in clinical psychology in 2006 and began a Pediatric Internship at the Munroe-Meyer Institute, where he learned about behavior-analytic psychotherapy under the supervision of Dr. William Warzak.

With Dr. Warzak’s recommendation, Dr. Knight was hired by Dr. Pat Friman as a Pediatric Psychology Postdoctoral Fellow in 2012 for the flagship Behavioral Health Clinic on the Boys Town campus. One year later, Dr. Friman recommended him to Lawren Ramos, Boys Town California’s Executive Director, as a candidate to open up and run a Behavioral Health Clinic program for him at the California site.

 “I’m really excited to continue to build a program that is providing services that are clearly valued by our families and by our referring pediatricians,” said Dr. Knight. As Director, he said, he will continue to build the Behavioral Health Clinic’s capacity to serve children and families in Orange County as well as ensure that Boys Town is delivering high-quality, evidence-based behavioral treatments within a behavioral-pediatric model.

Dr. Knight will also begin fostering relationships within the community and working to improve clinical decision making by providing training and supervision to the staff. He hopes that his experience as a parent to two daughters, Victoria and Hazel, will be beneficial to him.

 “I tell almost every family I see that everything I’m about to tell you to do, I have personally screwed up at home. They understand that I know the unrelenting 24-hour nature of parenting and that really gives me some credibility with them, I think.”

Dr. Knight is most excited, though, about sharing the spirit of Boys Town with those around him. “I hope we will be able to touch a lot of lives that would otherwise never have been in contact with Fr. Flanagan or his dream,” he said. “We try to orient our every action to the Dream, to the Mission, and, of course, to the National Strategic Plan.”

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