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Emily's Story

Emily's Story

Today, Emily is 20 years old and employed full-time as a waitress in Grand Island, Nebraska. She has plans to start school soon to become a nurse, and her future looks bright. 

But Emily's journey from adolescence to adulthood was filled with darkness, pain and uncertainty. Here, in her own words, she describes her experiences of loss and loneliness and, finally, with Boys Town Central Nebraska's help, her redemption.  

This story will make you sad, angry and, in the end, happy.

I am one of many youth who have had a troubled childhood. That doesn't make me different or special, but it for sure made me stronger.

At first, my story will seem like it's all over the place. It perfectly reflects how bad my situation was growing up.

We often take things for granted, especially the ones we love. This is exactly how I was feeling as I stood outside my mom's hospital room with my stepdad as the nurses were calling a code. I was 15 when I unexpectedly lost my mom that day, and I didn't think life could possibly get any worse.

Before I go on, let me rewind to give you a little background so you'll fully understand my story.

My biological father and my mother divorced when I was 10. To be honest, it didn't bother me because they fought constantly.

My mom later met a wonderful man who became a big part our lives. I still had visitations with my biological father until I was 12. But in that two-year span, he also met someone else and my visitations with him became unhealthy and emotionally abusive. So I stopped going to see him.

Fast forward to that day outside my mom's hospital room. Two things were running through my mind: the unbelievable grief I felt and the dread running through me knowing I was going to have to get in touch with my biological father.

I called him later that night and told him I wanted to continue living with my stepdad. But I offered to start visitations again. All I got in response were rude and unnecessary comments. The next few weeks were filled with the fear that I would be taken away at my mom's funeral, that there would be more unhealthy visitations and, finally, that a court order would be issued saying I had to live with my biological father.

All I wanted to do at that time was grieve for my mom. But instead, I was being eaten up by everything else going on around me. I eventually moved in with my biological father, but I only stayed there three days. Then I ran away.

I was on my own for a month before turning myself in. I became a ward of the state and was placed in the Boys Town shelter in Grand Island as the custody battle between my biological father and my stepdad started.

When I first got to Boys Town, I was an emotional mess. All I wanted to do was cry all the time. And I wanted to go home, to my real home with my stepdad. The first few days were very hard since I couldn't have any contact with any friends or family. I felt isolated, and I didn't open up to any of the staff. It wasn't that I didn't want to; it was more that I didn't want to break down crying in front of everyone.

After a couple of weeks, things started to change. I started to grow close to many members of the Boys Town staff. They were very helpful once I was able to talk to them about what I was going through, and they all made special efforts to make a positive difference in any way they could.

Megan, a supervisor at the shelter, was so kind. She made arrangements so she could personally drive me to the cemetery to visit my mom's grave. And when I had a call with my biological father, Angela, another supervisor, sat with me since I wasn't comfortable talking to him alone. The call was not a positive experience, and Angela later wrote a letter to the court on my behalf.

To this day, I believe she is the reason I was placed with and eventually adopted by my stepdad, who is now my real dad. Because of her, the courts were able to truly see what a negative environment my biological father would provide if I had to live with him.

I write this story now so others can understand how wonderful Boys Town is. To be honest, before my two-month stay there, I thought it was a place where terrible juveniles go. I was right about the juvenile part, being that I was one myself. But the only terrible parts are the painful situations that most kids who live at the shelter are going through.

To the Boys Town Central Nebraska staff, I want to say THANK YOU. I wouldn't be where I am today without you. You really do make a difference.