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Boys Town, Love of Family Light Fire of Change for Troubled Teen

As a single parent with three children, Monica constantly struggled to make ends meet. A high school dropout, she had to work long hours to pay the rent, put food on the table and otherwise provide for her family.

Her biggest struggle, however, was with her 14-year-old-daughter, Nikki.

Nikki refused to help out at home with her younger brother and sister, and she blatantly broke most of her mom’s house rules.

Nikki also skipped school a lot and ran with a group of older kids. Her negative behavior and poor choices wore on the family, and Monica became even more concerned when she saw her two younger children starting to imitate some of their sister’s troublesome behaviors.

In the summer before her junior year in high school, Nikki was arrested for underage drinking, drug possession and trespassing. It was her third offense related to drinking and using drugs.

Monica told the state social worker assigned to Nikki’s case that couldn’t handle her daughter anymore and that she feared for her safety if she stayed at home.

When Nikki went to court, the judge decided to give the teen a second chance. He referred her to the Family Home Program at the Village of Boys Town, Nebraska.

When she first arrived at her Boys Town Family Home, Nikki was as defiant as ever toward her Family-Teachers ®, Kate and Alex. She wanted nothing to do with the other girls in the home, and made it clear she wanted to be left alone to do what she wanted.

Kate and Alex had their hands full with Nikki. But they had seen teens like her before, and knew that if they consistently and patiently taught Nikki better ways to behave and express her feelings, she would begin to change.

In her first year at Boys Town, Nikki did the bare minimum to get by at home and in school. Kate and Alex saw this as progress and continued to provide encouragement, guidance and love.

Nikki was able to visit her family on the weekends during that first summer. She saw how hard her mother worked and how much her siblings were struggling, just as she had. Then she realized something that had escaped her for so long: It hurt to see her family this way and it was time to become a better daughter and older sister.

During her senior year at Boys Town, Nikki’s grades improved dramatically, and she got involved in sports and other activities. At home, Nikki stopped arguing with Kate and Alex and instead began asking them for help. She grew closer to the girls who lived with her, especially those who were new to Boys Town, and started living like part of the family.

The perseverance of Kate and Alex, and Nikki’s willingness to change her life, soon paid off for everyone.

On graduation day, Nikki’s siblings and mother watched proudly as she walked across the stage to receive her diploma. They were all moved to tears of joy, thankful that Boys Town had helped steer Nikki away from the harmful path she had been on.

When Nikki left Boys Town, she moved back home to help her mother with her brother and sister. She works part-time to help support the family and plans to attend cosmetology school when the time is right.

At Boys Town, Nikki learned how to become a responsible, caring daughter and sister. Now she’s using what she learned to help those she loves heal and grow.

The stories provided about the children and families in our care are real. In some cases, names may be changed and details altered to protect their privacy and therapeutic interests.