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boys-town-louisiana-hosts-3rd-annual-bowl-a-paloozaBoys Town Louisiana Hosts 3rd Annual Bowl-A-PaloozaLouisiana
Louisiana Bowl-A-Palooza 1
Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

​The only thing better than good food, live music and an evening of unlimited bowling is supporting a cause that's close to your heart. Boys Town Louisiana gave their community supporters and donors a chance to enjoy a night of saving children and healing families at their annual Bowl-A-Palooza, an event that aims to bring the community together and support the Boys Town mission.

The 3rd Annual Bowl-A-Palooza is one of two large-scale fundraisers of the year that allows donors to interact with the families and children in a fun way. The $25 tickets for the event include food, live music, access to the silent auction and unlimited bowling at Rock N Bowl, a local and family-owned business that has been a continued supporter of Boys Town throughout the years. Bowl-A-Palooza is designed to be an event that is inclusive of all Boys Town supporters, including donors, community members, employees and youth to raise funds for the residential homes and for youth aging out of the foster care system.

In honor of National Foster Care Month, Boys Town Louisiana asked for company sponsorships to help cover the cost of the event and to raise funds for foster care services. When all was said and done, Boys Town Louisiana walked away from the event having raised $40,000 through revenue from company sponsorships, silent auction profit and ticket sales. Compared to last year's $21,000 raised, this year was a huge success.

"Unique to this year, Bowl-A-Palooza hosted a bowling competition between major donors," said Julia Turkevich, Boys Town Louisiana Donor Relations Specialist. "The highest scoring sponsorship team, Entergy, won bragging rights as the Boys Town King Pin! They took home the Bowl-A-Palooza trophy, which they get to hold onto for a year until the next year's event."

Congratulations to Boys Town Louisiana for another successful Bowl-A-Palooza during National Foster Care Month!

 
btla-head-start-program-attend-expoBoys Town Louisiana Early Head Start Program Attends Urban League School ExpoLouisiana
Boys Town Louisiana Early Head Start Program Attends Urban League School Expo
Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017

Boys Town Louisiana's Early Head Start Program has been serving hundreds of children every year in the New Orleans community since its opening in 2015. The program is dedicated to helping parents prepare their infants and toddlers for school. In order to reach those in need of services, the Early Head Start Program continuously engages in recruitment events in order to actively inform families with eligible children about the services offered through the Early Head Start Program.

On Saturday February 4, 2017, Boys Town Louisiana's Early Head Start Program participated in the Urban League School Expo. This year's expo was held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and featured a variety of different schools from the New Orleans area. About 100 public, private and charter schools attended, allowing a couple thousand community members to learn more about different education programs and services offered through these schools within New Orleans and surrounding communities. 

The Early Head Start Program was able to set up a booth and engage in active recruiting to provide the necessary information to those most in need of services while collaborating with families to promote children's health and well-being. The Early Head Start Program staff educated families about the importance of comprehensive screenings such as medical, oral, nutrition, mental health, homeless, and disability services offered within the program. 

The event was held from 10a.m.- 2p.m. allowing Boys Town Louisiana to provide an increase in exposure within the community. Around 50 families were informed of relevant services that they could potentially utilize through the Early Head Start Program.

Learn more about the Early Head Start Program.

boys-town-a-beacon-of-hope-for-troubled-youthBoys Town: A Beacon of Hope for Troubled YouthLouisiana
Thursday, Dec 29, 2016

​​​​​​​This story aired on CBS Sunday Morning and was posted on cbsnews.com on December 25, 2016.

"There's no place like home." Rarely is that truer than this time of year. Our Christmas Cover Story is all about a very special home for some very needy children, as reported by Tony Dokoupil:

Right near the midpoint of America, ten miles outside of Omaha, Nebraska, there's a town that sits between childhood and whatever comes after.

"These young people are about to become citizens of the most famous village in the world," said Father Stephen Boes at a swearing-in ceremony.

In this town, almost every kid is at a crossroads -- and the goal of all the grown-ups here is to help kids leave Boys Town behind.

"I do solemnly promise … that I will be a good citizen."

Eighteen-year-old Chase Pruss, from Dodge, Neb., was sworn in here six months ago --  arriving, like a lot of the kids, straight from jail.

"I took the school safe," he said.  "Just for money. For Beer money. And gas money. And buy cigarettes."

Two more break-ins followed, and Pruss ended up arrested in front of his bewildered parents. "My mom was crying, my dad was crying," he said.

He had run through four different schools, stolen and lied.

And he faced 80 years in prison, ​until a judge helped get him into Boys Town. "I ​​had that mindset of, "I never want to ever ​put myself in the position where I could land myself back in an orange jumpsuit," Pruss said. "I never ​wanted my ​jail ID ​number to say ​who I was."

Andre Harris (right) in class at Boys Town. CBS News

Seventeen-year-old Andre Harris came to Boys Town the same way.  Nearly three years ago, back in Amarillo, Texas, he stole a car, and ended up in juvenile detention.

"I didn't feel like I was gonna amount to anything after that," he told Dokoupil.  

Frankly, he didn't think he'd amount to much before jail, either. College seemed out of reach. He can't remember hearing someone say they were proud of him.

Dokoupil said of Boys Town, "More felons per capita here than any town in Nebraska."

"Probably!" Harris laughed. "But we're all doing our best to change."

Almost every week here at Boys Town, new boys (and since 1979, new girls, too) are sent by social workers, judges and desperate parents. Most of the kids have been unable to live anywhere else without getting in trouble.

And Boys Town is their last chance.

"A lot of people would say they're bad kids," Dokoupil said. "Is that how they see themselves when they get here?"

"Some of our kids do," replied Tony Jones, one of Boys Town's "family teachers." "They see themselves as, you know, on the bottom of the totem pole."

And how do they change that mindset? "You show them that this is your decision. This is your life."

Jones and his wife, Simone, run one of 55 homes on campus. Eight Boys Town children live there like a family, alongside the Jones' three biological kids.

"Every single young man that has come through my home has now become a part of my family," Jones said.

This is a large part of what makes Boys Town so powerful; all 360 kids living here have paid Boys Town parents like Tony and Simone.

"It's a professional, full-time Dad, brother, uncle, cousin -- whatever my boys may need me to be at that particular time in their life, that, then, is who I become for them," Jones said.

Tony Jones and his wife, Simone, and three children share their home with eight Boys Town students. CBS News​

He began at Boys Town as a boy himself. He was born to a shattered family in Detroit. "I can recall my brother and I standing at a bus stop, and it was in the dead of winter. And we only had one pair of socks to share between the two us," Jones laughed.

But then a priest gave the Jones brothers a chance to change their lives at Boys Town. "It was a total transformation," he said.

Dokoupil asked, "Where do you think you would be if you had said no to Boys Town?"

"Oh, two places: I would either be incarcerated, or I would be dead."

Father Edward Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town. CBS News

The Jones story is typical of a hundred years of stories at Boys Town, which began in 1917 as Father Flanagan's Home for Boys. The most beloved clergyman in America, he created arguably the most famous reform school in the world.

Of his charges, Father Flanagan said, "His bruised and tortured heart and mind must be nursed back to normal health through kindness."

You may remember a 1938-Oscar winning movie about the place starring Spencer Tracy. But what you probably don't know is it's a real town, with a real post office and police department.

At about $65,000 per student per year, Boys Town is comparable to a top private college -- and it's mostly taxpayers footing the bill.

But taxpayers pay for prisons, too -- more than $39 billion a year nationally. Boys Town says it can help keep those prison cells empty, while nearly doubling the chance that these students will graduate from high school.

Dokoupil asked Jones, "How do you avoid coming in and being just another person telling them all the things they're doing wrong?"

"By telling them all the things they're doing right," Jones replied. "That's how you help kids change. It's being able to say, 'Hey, young man, you did a good job this morning getting up.'"

"It almost sounds like a joke."

"Well, you know something? That little praise goes a long way."

That little praise goes all the way back to Father Flanagan's ​founding idea: "There are no bad boys."

And if that all sounds too pat to be successful … well, the results say otherwise.

When asked where he would be without Boys Town, Chase Pruss replied, "I'd be in lockup." As did another.

And if that all sounds too pat to be successful, just listen to the results. Tesharr said, "I've been here for a short amount of time. But since my first day I didn't feel like I was in a place where I couldn't leave. I felt like I was home."

Of course, the Boys Town way does not work for every child who comes here; there are failures. But for Chase's parents, Dan and Trish, it's been nothing short of a Christmas miracle.

Dokoupil asked them, "Who was Chase before Boys Town and who is he today?"

"He was dishonest, disrespectful, a thief," said his mother. "And now he is the Chase that I always wanted him to be."

For Andre Harris, the change has been no less dramatic since stealing that car. "It's not even the same person," he said.

And how is he different? "My actions, the way I speak. I've grown up. I've become a young man."

He's a school leader now … a star on the track team … and he's just found out he's headed to college next year.

But first, he's headed to Amarillo for the holidays … a place he hasn't seen in nearly three years. It's a place that Boys Town has been preparing him for since the very day he made his grand theft exit:

It's home.

"This is my Christmas gift," Robert Harris told Dokoupil. "This is all I wanted!"

Andre Harris is welcomed by neighbors back home in Amarillo, Texas. CBS News
boys-town-louisiana-raises-more-than-80000-at-reprom-eventBoys Town Louisiana Raises More Than $80,000 at ReProm EventLouisiana
Dr. Eric Griggs and Katie Osborne, ReProm 2016 King and Queen
Thursday, Dec 8, 2016

​​​More than 250 Boys Town Louisiana supporters relived their childhood when they attended the 6th annual Retro ReProm event on Friday, November 4, 2016.

"The Retro ReProm is our signature event and our supporters look forward to it throughout the year," said Darrell Johnson, Boys Town Louisiana Development Director.

Held at Il Mercato, Retro ReProm treated guests to an event that recreated a multi-era high school prom. In true prom style, the crowd danced the night away to music performed by The Strate Notes.

The highlight of the event came when it was time to announce the 2016 ReProm King and Queen.

Each year, nominated New Orleans community leaders and celebrities vie for the "Crown" of King and Queen of Retro ReProm. Each dollar raised counts as a vote towards the King and Queen of the donor's choice. At the end of the night, the candidates with the most votes, wins.

This year's prom king was Dr. Eric Griggs, a physician whose mission is "to educate the community on how to live a longer, healthier and happier life." The crowning of prom queen went to Katie Osborne, a graduate of Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and who currently serves as Constituent Liaison for Council Member Greg Travis, Houston City Council, District G. 

The event was a success and always brings a good amount fun for a great cause. "This event enables to raise much needed funds for our mission while having a lot of fun," added Johnson.

The funds raised will be used towards Boys Town ​Louisiana's Continuum of Care programming. Thanks to all of the supporters and attendees who made this year's Retro ReProm a great success!​

boys-town-louisiana-early-head-start-forms-new-partnership-for-nutrition-educationBoys Town Louisiana Early Head Start Forms New Partnership for Nutrition EducationLouisiana
Monday, Dec 5, 2016

​​Boys Town Louisiana's Early Head Start Program recently began a partnership with Louisiana State University (LSU) Agriculture Center Research and Extension for an Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) for parents of Boys Town youth.

Launching for Boys Town families in September 2016, EFNEP is a federally-funded program administered by the LSU Ag Center which offers free nutrition education to economically disadvantaged families and youth in the New Orleans community.

Nutrition Educators will present information to parents on topics such as nutrition and wellness, food safety and food resource management. The lessons have been developed by state specialists and provide the most relevant, evidence-based information. Presentations will take place at Boys Town's three Early Head Start locations – Wilcox Academy; Kids of Excellence; and SEA TOO.

"A guiding principle of the Early Head Start Program is to ensure that young children can grow, develop, and learn through the implementation of comprehensive services (health, safety, nutrition, education, and mental). To achieve positive outcomes it is detrimental to partner with community stakeholders and collaborate with parents," explained Renaca Hick-Haskins, Director, Boys Town Early Head Start Program. "Through our nutritional partnership with LSU Agriculture Center, during monthly sessions parents will learn how to shop for healthy food on a budget and how to make educated and intentional choices when it comes to nutrition."

While there have only been a couple of sessions, parents are already starting to make changes. "The parents are receiving advice from other parents and creating a peer network during these sessions," added Hicks-Haskins. "One mother stated that she bought a bike and is now walking to the sessions rather than driving. A father volunteered to lead a healthy ​living session once a week to discuss challenges, solutions, and walk with other parents."

The program will consist of 11 sessions over a 12-month period and focuses on identifying and solidifying the importance of nutrition.​

early-head-start-partner-opens-second-location-fosters-community-engagementEarly Head Start Partner Opens Second Location, Fosters Community EngagementLouisiana
Monday, Nov 28, 2016

​​The Boys Town Louisiana Early Head Start Program is now helping children and families in the heart of the Desire Neighborhood in New Orleans, Louisiana, thanks to its community partner – Kids of Excellence.

Kids of Excellence Child Development Center opened a second location in the Desire Neighborhood, which allows for the center and its partners to directly engage with families, as well as collaborate with community nonprofits.

"The Kids of Excellence second location benefits children and families of the Early Head Start Program as our new facility is located in a prime location that fosters direct engagement with our students, families and community," said Kristi Givens, Owner, Kids of Excellence.

The facility is located in a community square that is also home to a Daughters of Charity Health Clinic, Abundance of Desire Community Center, and is adjacent from Delgado Community College.  "Our combined services will provide educational programs and leadership development opportunities that will benefit our students, families, and the community," said Givens.

Boys Town Louisiana began a partnership with Kids of Excellence Child Development Center in early 2015 as part of the federal Early Head Start initiative. This initiative provided $8.2 million in additional funding to increase education quality and expand capacity at preschools for children 3 and under in New Orleans. Boys Town was one of four organizations chosen to administer the Early Head Start Program. 

Through their partnership, Boys Town and Kids of Excellence not only prepare youngsters for school to ensure a seamless transition, but also help maintain a healthy household for children in their care by offering Boys Town support services, including In-Home Family Services, Care Coordination Services and Common Sense Parenting® classes.

"We are really excited to be partnering with Kids of Excellence and for their new location," said Renaca Hick-Haskins, Director, Boys Town Early Head Start Program. "The new facility is very conducive to our program needs and with its location near other nonprofits and a community college, we can provide a one-stop-shop for the needs of the entire family."

Since starting the Early Head Start program, both Boys Town and Kids of Excellence have received very positive feedback and goals are being met. ​

louisianas-second-bowl-a-palooza-event-brings-awareness-to-foster-careLouisiana's Second Bowl-A-Palooza Event Brings Awareness to Foster Care Louisiana
Left to Right: Boys Town Louisiana Board Members Barbara Waiters, Cliff Buller and Anne Doussan.
Tuesday, Jun 14, 2016

​​Boys Town Louisiana laced-up their bowling shoes and had some fun in honor of National Foster Care Awareness Month at their Second Annual Bowl-A-Palooza event on Sunday, May 15, 2016.

The event was held at New Orleans’ Rock ‘n’ Bowl and treated guests to a fun afternoon of bowling, food and musical entertainment from Tank and the Banagas and DJ Raj Smoove. Hosted by New Orleans’ own MC Wild Wayne, Boys Town brought awareness to their many programs helping at-risk youth in the area.

In addition to bowling, the event also featured a silent auction and door prizes. “Our second annual Bowl-a-Palooza event was a smashing success,” said Darrell Johnson, Boys Town Louisiana Development Director. “We ‘knocked down pins’, to raise funds for at-risk youth and their families, plenty of delicious foods, amazing musical entertainment and silent auction items were on-hand for all to enjoy.”

More than 150 people came out to join the fun, raising more than $20,000. Funds will go towards supporting Boys Town Louisiana’s Family Home Program, as well as to support young people who are aging-out of the foster care system and not yet equipped with the life skills to live independently.

“A big thanks to the Bowl-A-Palooza committee members, Boys Town Louisiana Board Members, Whole Foods, and the House of Blues, for making this event a great success,” said Johnson. “We look forward with continuing on with this event for years to come.”

helping-people-makes-me-happy-from-foster-kid-to-guide-for-others'Helping people makes me happy:' From foster kid, to guide for othersLouisiana
Photo by Brett Duke, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune
Monday, May 2, 2016

This article ​is written by Diana Samuels of The Times-Picayune . It was posted on NOLA.com April 16, 2016.

SONYA BROWN IS GIVING YOUNG PEOPLE IN FOSTER CARE THE SUPPORT THEIR PARENTS CAN'T.

As a teenager, Sonya Brown ran away from Boys Town. As an adult, she came back.

Brown, a 29-year-old Harvey resident, works as a community engagement connector for Boys Town in New Orleans, advocating on behalf of young people in the foster care system.
Brown, whose mother was diagnosed schizophrenic and whose father was an alcoholic, was put in the Louisiana foster care system at the age of 6. Separated from her six siblings, she spent time in seven different foster homes and 10 different schools. She was expelled three times, and ran away frequently. At 17 she was arrested for running away from a group home, and spent four days in an adult correctional facility.

Today, she's a licensed master social worker with bachelor's and master's degrees from Southern University at New Orleans. In addition to working directly with young people, she's become involved with political policy at the state and federal levels, including speaking on a U.S. House of Representatives panel about the need to improve the juvenile justice system for incarcerated girls.

WHY: "I grew up in foster care from age 6 to 18. My perspectives are shaped by going to court, dealing with social workers, having people who took a personal interest in my life. If I hadn't had all of these supportive individuals, then I wouldn't have achieved anything. I feel like I'm obligated to be there for young people that may not have that support that I had. That drives me."

PATH: "I actually lived in a Boys Town home for a while. After I aged out of foster care at 18, I went on to college and just thought, 'Hmm, Boys Town would be a cool place to work.' Some of the people who were employed by Boys Town still work here. They had some stories about things I did when I was in Boys Town. I was unruly."

FEAR: "I was very afraid entering into adulthood. You're sitting at a table and everyone is telling you, 'OK, you're going to be 18 in a few months, so where are you going to live and what are you going to do?' That's a very real fear and I connect with the young people that I work with because every single one of them aging out of foster care is going to experience that same thing. I always think about how I felt in that moment."

ALTERNATIVE: "I love music. I love live music. And I still write music, that's one of my hobbies. It's a good way to connect to the young people that I work with. I listen to every type of music; I'm so eclectic. When I'm developing a relationship with a young person, a lot of time music comes into play. Like we're in the car and we're listening to music. They think I'm old, and they're like, 'You listen to this?'"

MEMORY: "My most treasured possession is a picture of me in 3rd grade. That was the point when I got to my foster mom. That was the year I moved in with her. That's the only picture I have of me as a little kid. I don't have any baby pictures. I have it framed. It's on a little stand in my office at home."

HAPPINESS: "Helping people makes me happy. I like to see people smiling and I like to feel as if I've done something to make them smile."

UNHAPPINESS: "What pisses me off is people who are not compassionate toward others. People who are rude and not thoughtful. People who don't recognize that other people go through things and are insensitive to other people's needs."

FAMILY: "I am most proud of being a mother. I have two daughters and they are just growing up to be so amazing. I'd like to say that I take credit for them doing the right thing, but I don't think it's anything that I'm doing. I think they're naturally little givers and they're just growing up to be genuinely good. I'm so proud of that."

HEROES: "My heroes would be the social worker who kind of walked me into college, my family attorney who sticks by me, and my foster mom who is my mom. To me, these people had no incentive to continue to keep me involved in their lives, but they chose to out of love."

SUPERHEROES: "I love 'Wonder Woman.' I can't wait till that movie comes out. I don't know, there's just something about a woman who's glamorous and strong who saves the day."

SHOUT-OUT: From Bonnie DeSalle, who is working with Brown on Project 18, a new program to support foster care youth as they transition into adulthood. "Because she experienced the foster care system herself, that gives her another view that most people who work on behalf of foster care kids don't have. This is somebody that really loves what she's doing and is there for the right reasons, wanting to give back to these young people."

WHAT WILL YOU DO:
•     Support Boys Town
•     Learn more about foster parenting in Louisiana
•    Help young people successfully transition from the foster care system with Project 18.
 

boys-town-louisiana-receives-patriotic-employer-awardBoys Town Louisiana Receives Patriotic Employer AwardLouisiana
Tuesday, Apr 26, 2016

Boys Town ​Louisiana’s Family-Home Program Director, Shawnta Gardener, was presented with a “Patriotic Employer” plaque by the Office of the Secretary of Defense on Wednesday, April 20th.

The recognition is in favor of Boys Town Louisiana's contribution to national security, and protecting liberty and freedom by supporting employee participation in America’s National Guard and Reserve Force.

Boys Town Louisiana is thankful for and proud to support our employees.

boys-town-louisiana-receives-grant-from-forekids-foundationBoys Town Louisiana Receives Grant from fore!Kids FoundationLouisiana
Tuesday, Mar 1, 2016

Boys Town ​Louisiana was excited to receive a $10,000 donation from the fore!Kids Foundation on Thursday, Feb 25, 2016. The funds will go directly to our Care Coordination Services program, which is an intensive case management program that helps youth who are preparing to leave foster care because they are turning 18 to transition into independent living.

fore!Kids Foundation’s Charity Development Manager, M. Paul Fischer II, said he “is proud to promote the partnerships that  the fore!Kids Foundation and the Zurich Classic of New Orleans has with the great organizations that do so much for the children in our community.”

Thank you for supporting needed programs for boys and girls in our community!

oscar-j-tolmas-charitable-trust-gives-grant-for-new-programOscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust Gives Grant for New ProgramLouisiana
Wednesday, Jan 13, 2016

Boys Town Louisiana, an organization committed to saving children and healing families, announced today that it has been awarded a $15,000 grant from the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust. The grant will be used to fund a Boys Town Louisiana start-up program designed to aid young people, transitioning out of foster care, in their development into productive adults. The initiative will be called the Oscar J. Tolmas Youth Project.

“We’re so thankful to the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust for their support of our new program,” said Boys Town Louisiana Executive Director, Dr. Dennis Dillion. “Each year in Louisiana, almost half of the 500 youth over 16 who exit foster care age out. They are considered adults and must learn to live on their own. This program will give these kids the guidance they need to become successful adults and members of our vibrant community.” 

The Oscar J. Tolmas Youth Project will provide a support system for young people in New Orleans who are aging out of the foster care system. Through the project, they gain new skills for independent living, secure safe, affordable housing, and explore job opportunities through a network of local employers. They get encouragement and advice through highly trained youth counselors.

The grant was made possible through the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust. 

“We are excited to honor Oscar’s memory and charitable interests with this donation to Boys Town Louisiana,” said Trustees Vincent Giardina and Lisa Romano.

 

About Oscar J. Tolmas

Oscar Judah Tolmas died December 2, 2013, at the age of 93. The New Orleans native served as a Naval Officer during World War II. Upon discharge, he pursued several career paths, including law, real estate development, and horse racing. He served for several years on the Louisiana State Racing Commission and as Chairman for four years in the early 90s. In 2013, he was honored by the Louisiana Bar Association as a 70-year member, having graduated in 1943 from Tulane University Law School.

valero-donates-40000Valero Donates $40,000 Louisiana
Monday, Dec 14, 2015

Boys Town Louisiana received $40,000 from the Valero Foundation thanks to proceeds from the 2015 Valero Texas Open Benefit for Children. The money donated will help more children through the organization’s Care Coordination Services. Care Coordination Services is an intensive case management program that helps youth who are preparing to leave foster care because they are turning 18 to transition into independent living.

This is the fourth year Boys Town Louisiana has received funding from the Valero Texas Open Benefit for Children.

“Valero Oil Refinery St. Charles has been an outstanding partner for Boys Town Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina,” said Dr. Dennis Dillon, Boys Town Louisiana Executive Director. “The culture of helping vulnerable youth and families is very active throughout the St. Charles refinery. We thank them for all they do and look forward to continuing our mutual efforts of helping far into the future.”

retro-reprom-fundraiser-takes-guests-down-memory-laneRetro Re-Prom Fundraiser Takes Guests Down Memory LaneLouisiana
Thursday, Dec 3, 2015

Most of us ​have daydreamed at some point about what it would be like to go back to high school. Recently, Boys Town Louisiana gave members of the local community a chance to pretend they could do just that, if only for a night.

Retro Re-Prom has been a well-loved fundraiser for the Louisiana site since its inception in 2011. As an adult prom, the event brings employees together with board members and donors to help further the Boys Town mission while dancing the night away in vintage-inspired attire.

This year, the team went all out in their planning, decorating down to the details. Held on Friday, November 6 at Il Mercato Hall, highlights of the night included a cocktail hour and hor d’oeuvres by local up-and-coming chef Joel Pondis.

“Everybody raved about the food!” said Darrell Johnson, Development Director and key planner for the event. Darrell also said the themed-cake, made by Royal Bakery, was perfect, with a jukebox made of frosting fondant and even a tiny decorative can of Aqua Net. A throwback playlist of crowd favorites was provided by DJ Rocky, a silent auction was held and local media outlets showed up to capture the excitement.

The speaker of the night was Ron Campbell, a previous Boys Town youth, who provided an inspiring account of the importance of Boys Town’s work in the world.

Each year, a group of prominent community members are nominated by the committee for the Boys Town homecoming court. Donations double as votes, giving donors the power to choose their king and queen. This year, the queen was Sonya Brown, a Boys Town alumna and current employee, along with Antwan Harris as the king, a local news anchor.

A good time was had by all, and the Boys Town mission gained more awareness and resources to continue doing good for children and families. Boys Town wishes to thank DJ Rocky, Il Mercato, John Dondis, Royal Bakery, the committee, and all members of the community who helped make this event the success it was!

action-report-school-uniform-drive-helps-record-amountAction Report: School Uniform Drive Helps Record AmountLouisiana
Friday, Oct 30, 2015

This story was originally released on October 27, 2015 by WWL TV.

James Lavigne is a busy baby at Sea Early Childhood Academy in New Orleans East.

"He's a 1-year-old active child who gets into everything, but he's sweet, he's really, really sweet," said his mother Ernisha Mackey.

But Mackey was thrilled when James' uniforms were donated through the Adopt a Family school uniform drive.

"I was like wow, uniforms," she said. "He didn't have a uniform, so he wasn't able to blend in with other students."

Boys Town manages Sea Academy's Early Headstart program, and they were urgently seeking help with uniforms.

"Sometimes we think it is just going about putting on a uniform, but when the kids come here and they have on their uniform, then it identifies them with OK, I go here, you know these are my peers," said Sea Academy administrator Niki Dajon.

"We tried to get the funding in the grant, but we had to cut it at the last minute," said Boys Town's Rashain Carriere.

This year's school uniform drive set a new record.

"It went really well," said the non profit Adopt A Family program founder Kevin Buckel. "The response from the first story was incredible. We raised enough funds to help over 1,000 students. However, I still have about 120 students waiting for uniforms, and I'm still getting calls every day."

And that's when Kevin made a second call to the Action Line, because he doesn't want any of the kids to have to go without uniforms. So he's putting out another call for donations.

"We're asking people to sponsor a child for $50," Buckel said. "With that, each child will get three uniforms, and we send a thank you note from the parent or child back to the donor with an actual cash register receipt."

as-a-youth-and-an-adult-malik-maintains-bond-with-boys-town-louisianaAs a Youth and an Adult, Malik Maintains Bond with Boys Town Louisiana Louisiana
Friday, Oct 16, 2015

When Malik aged out of the Boys Town Louisiana Family Home Program®, the 18-year-old didn’t have a family to turn to for guidance and support. So he reached out to the one place he knew he could count on for help as he transitioned into adulthood – Boys Town.  

Malik was 16 when he was referred to Boys Town Louisiana in 2013. Like most teens who enter the Family Home Program, he faced challenges at home and school that required Boys Town’s unique services and care.

During his year and a half stay, Malik thrived and mastered the skills that helped him find success in his Boys Town home and at school. But as he was getting ready to leave the program, he grew anxious about being on his own and using what he had learned in an adult world.

“He just wasn’t quite sure how to use the skills he learned at Boys Town and apply them after he left,” said Sonya Brown, Community Engagement Coordinator at Boys Town Louisiana. “That’s where Boys Town’s Care Coordination Program came in to work with him. We helped him learn to put the Boys Town skills to use at work and school.”

Malik had a number of concerns, including finding a place to live, getting a good job, finishing his GED and applying for college.

“We sat down with Malik to draw up a plan for him to follow,” Brown said.

The first issues they tackled were housing and employment.

“He was about to lose the housing he had,” Brown said. “So we worked with him to take the steps necessary to secure the housing long-term. He was working when he left Boys Town, but needed something else that was more secure. He ended up getting a job that meets his needs well.”

Brown also worked with Malik on budgeting.

“Malik worked with us to better understand and identify needs versus wants,” Brown said. “He’s learning that he doesn’t need to buy a basketball if his cupboards are empty or if he needs bus tokens to get back and forth from work or school.”

When he left Boys Town, Malik was still working on completing his GED. It was another area where Brown was able to provide guidance so the teen could reach his goal.

“Once he got it, we attended his graduation and gave him graduation gifts,” she said. “He was very excited. We even helped him get a haircut for his graduation. It was a great day for Malik.”

With his GED, and with Brown’s help, Malik was able to apply for colleges, scholarships and financial assistance.

“He was accepted to Tulane University and started taking some classes this past summer,” Brown said. “He started his first full year of college this fall and is studying homeland security.”

Boys Town understands how difficult it can be for young adults to make the move to independent living once they leave the Family Home Program. That’s why Boys Town continues to provide assistance and support for youth like Malik as they take on the new responsibilities of adulthood.

“Malik is one of those kids who did not achieve permanency through the traditional routes of finding a forever family or being adopted,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, this happens to many kids who are in care, especially older girls and boys. The neat thing about Malik is he did find permanency through the support of Boys Town and other organizations in the community. He knows that he can come to Boys Town if he has an issue or problem.”

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