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Boys-Town-Helps-Foster-ParentsBoys Town Helps Foster ParentsNebraska
Boys Town Helps Foster Parents
Tuesday, Jan 3, 2017

This article was posted on wowt.com on December 20, 2016.

Colin and Colby are two former Boys Town residents that perfectly exemplify the life changing quality of Boys Town.

The two children hit a very rough patch in their lives and were in desperate need of help, and foster parents. April and Joey Falk stepped up and became the foster parents of the two boys, but, as first-time parents, the Falks needed help of their own. That is where Boys Town came in, providing everything from training to supplies and even a visiting expert.

"Boys Town's been a huge support for us. I don't know that we would have taken on more than just the one child we started with had it not been for Boys Town" said April.

The help from Boys Town has really been paying off as the Falks, along with Colin and Colby are all adjusting really well to their new family. Joey Falk says it's been an experience like no other.

"It's amazing to see these little kids and see smiles on their faces and know that they are in a safe place growing up," he said. "And they feel safe here and we've seen then grow up right before our eyes which is awesome."

boys-town-a-beacon-of-hope-for-troubled-youthBoys Town: A Beacon of Hope for Troubled YouthNebraska
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-saves-troubled-mans-lifeBoys Town Saves Troubled Man's LifeNebraska
Nick's Story
Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016

This article was posted on w​owt.com on December 13, 2016.

At age 15 Nick Manhart was on a troubled path. It was a path his mother Karen had no clue how to handle. Nick made his way through life by doing many illegal activities.

"I never had a job or anything but I used to sell my prescription medication so I could get money to do things like smoke pot and shoplift stuff like that. So it was never, good times, it was never good," confessed Nick.

When his mother Karen found out about the drug dealing she made one of the hardest decisions a parent can make. She turned in her own son.

"I had to save him from himself because he was going down a road that was not gon​na be good it wasn't gonna end well," Karen said.

Luckily, for both Karen and Nick after time in the Douglas County Youth Facility Nick found his way to Boys Town.

"If it wasn't for Boys Town I'd be dead or in jail," Nick told WOWT 6 News.

While Nick is just one of the many young people that attended Boys Town he and his mother both know that without Boys Town their family wouldn't be as strong as it is now. ​

Former-Youth-Rises-Above-Mental-Health-ChallengesFormer Youth Pins Down, Rises Above Mental Health ChallengesAll, Nebraska
Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016

Nick Boes knows firsthand the pain and turmoil that comes from living with mental health issues. He also knows that with the right help, a person can learn to cope with those challenges and thrive in his or her personal, family and academic life. For Nick, that help came from the compassionate caregivers at Boys Town. Nick spent a year and a half as a citizen of the Village of Boys Town, Nebraska, where he found hope, healing and a new approach for the future. This is his story, in his own words.

My earliest memory of my anxiety, obsessiveness and some of the start of my depression was about the age of 6. I was already showing symptoms and unusual behaviors so my mom took me to a mental health professional. My parents were given some behavioral modification techniques to use with me and I was prescribed medication. They were told to bring me back in a couple of years if things got worse.

When I was 12, my parents brought me back because my anxiety and depression were bad again. I was given therapy and medication and things improved for a while. 

In high school, anxiety would come and go, but when it came back, it was bad. I managed it fairly well my freshman and sophomore years. The exercise from wrestling on the varsity team helped a lot and wrestling became a big part of my life. I was also doing well in school.

During my junior year, I had a real bad turnaround.

Even though I was a leader on the wrestling team and doing well in school, my anxiety was a huge factor in how I felt. I held in a lot of fear and anger, and I never told anyone about it.

My home life started to fall apart. I began to be abusive to my family, stole money from my parents and harmed the ones I love.

I tried everything in my power to defeat my crippling anxiety and depression but nothing worked. One day, I ran away from home just to escape; it didn't help, and I returned home.

I was 17 years old and my parents were really desperate to help me find help. So we tried a new doctor and new medication, along with therapy.

Things didn't get better this time. I thought nothing in my life was going right and I had a lot of self-pity. I was so anxious and always worrying about myself. It got so bad that thoughts of suicide began to creep into my head.

That's when my parents contacted Boys Town.  

At first, I went to the Intensive Residential Treatment program. After about a month, I moved to the Family Home Program.  

My Family-Teachers® (the trained married couple who care for youth in Family Homes) were incredible and I consider them like my family. I love them so much.

At Boys Town, I bought in right away. It was my chance to change. I got the help I needed from my Family-Teachers, therapist, teachers and coaches. Life got much better. I did well in school and ended up playing three varsity sports.

At graduation, I remember walking across the stage, so proud of overcoming all the adversity and troubles I had faced. For the first time in a long time, I could look my dad and mom in the eye. 

After graduation, I attended Concordia University. My freshman and sophomore years, I had a bit of a relapse with my anxiety and depression. But I kept telling myself things would get better and this would pass – and it did.

My sophomore year, I was a manager on the wrestling team when I decided to walk on to the team. I knew what to do to make the team because of all the skills I learned at Boys Town. Not only did I make the team but I earned a scholarship.   

I am on track to graduate in May of 2017 with a degree in behavioral science and psychology and a minor in sociology. I have rebuilt my relationship with my family and have the right group of friends.

Boys Town gave me hope and taught me that even though anxiety and depression will never go away, I can learn to accept them and live a great life. The key is to know how to manage them daily and ask for help when they become overwhelming.

I hope my story can inspire others with similar issues to stay hopeful and ask for help.

5000-cookies-boy-thats-a-christmas-party5,000 Cookies! Boy, That's a Christmas PartyNebraska
Guests at the Christmas Family Festival
Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016

​​This article is written by Collin Ruane. It was posted December 10, 2016 on wowt.com.

Boys Town held its annual Christmas Festival on Saturday, featuring a wide variety of entertainment, including a visit with Santa and his reindeer.

Organizers were pleased with the turnout. "We have a large crowd this year," said Director of Community Programs Tom Lynch. "We really promoted it. We wanted the public to come and learn about Boys Town."

"We made close to 5,000 cookies and about 4,800 frosting cups and we're fully prepared to make about 250 gallons of ​cocoa," said Food Services Director Robert Tapio.​

boys-town-choir-set-to-perform-before-symphony-show-gets-advice-from-the-prosBoys Town Choir, Set to Perform Before Symphony Show, Gets Advice from the ProsNebraska
Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016

​​​This article is written by Betsie Free​man, World-Herald staff writer. It was posted on Omaha.com on December 14th.

It was billed as a master class on music.

Members of the Boys Town Voices sang side-by-side Tuesday with seven Broadway performers in the Music Hall on campus. The professional singers,​ in town for the Omaha Symphony Christmas Celebration, joined the 41-member choir on "O Holy Night," offering an audio-visual tutorial on expression and breath control and sharing a few thoughts about the song.

After that, in a revealing question-and-answer session, it morphed into a master class on life.

How to handle defeat. How to persevere. How to give thanks for blessings, apparent and otherwise.

The visit from the Broadway veterans was set up to help the choir prepare for its preshow at Thursday night's symphony concert. The group will perform about six songs, including "O Holy Night," in the Holland Center lobby, then stay for the Christmas show with other Boys Town representatives.

"It's an experience that most kids don't get," said Stephanie Ludwig, the symphony's public relations manager.

Ludwig said the symphony reached out to Boys Town in an effort to get additional groups for preconcert activities — something new to supplement the bell choirs and violin students who have performed for several years. It's the first time Boys Town has participated.

The students gave the pros a warm welcome with applause and whoops. When the performers joined the choir, several students were clearly awed.

Senior Shae Nielsen, 18, was wowed when professional singers Tiffany Haas and Siri Howard chose seats near her. She said she loves Broadway and plans to major in music in college.

"They were both in front of me, and I felt like I was going to fall over," she said.

When asked if they would like to pursue a performing career, more than half of the choir's members raised their hands. That surprised Haas, one of four headline performers in the symphony show who also has played the role of Glinda in "Wicked" on Broadway and in a national tour.

"That's not usually the case," she said.

The choir members — students in ninth through 12th grades — had several questions about what it's like to be a professional singer, actor and dancer. For each question, the students received answers that spoke volumes about the struggles they may face, no matter what path they choose.

They especially were riveted when the actors talked about how many times they had auditioned for shows.

"I got 72 nos for my first yes," Haas told the group. "If you want something bad enough, you have to keep trying."

And that's true no matter where you are in your career, added dancer Erin Moore.

Each student faced a fair amount of competition when auditioning for one of the spots in the Boys Town Voices, said Sierra Sanchez, who is in her first year as director.

The professionals also said it's important to take care of yourself and to be authentic.

"Don't waste time being what others want you to be," Haas said. "Hold your head high and like who you are."

They also stressed that a stage career means you sometimes have to be creative to support yourself.

Many performers also teach, judge competitions or find other jobs, said dancer Connor Schwantes.

"I am personally a hand model — that's my fun fact," he said. "You have to make money somehow. ... New York is expensive."

And Howard — who appeared in "Les Misérables" and "The Sound of Music" on Broadway — said she had a big lesson she wanted to impart.

"There's a fine line that's important to note, between gratitude and confidence," she said, encouraging the students to be gracious in victory and defeat. "It's not about being the star but about making art."

At the same time, she said, "it's also knowing you have something to offer."

The advice resonated with those who don't have stage aspirations as well as those who do. Senior Daemon Hug, 17, is in the choir merely because he loves to sing. His post-graduation plans include either joining the military or playing college football. Even so, he took a lot away from Tuesday's session.

"Everywhere you go, you're going to have to fight internal battles, and finding a way to deal with those will get you places," he said.​

food-football-and-fun-boys-town-teacher-tony-jones-hosts-regular-tailgates-for-hundredsFood, Football and Fun: Boys Town Teacher Tony Jones Hosts Regular Tailgates for Hundreds Nebraska
Joey Butler, left, and Tony Jones grill burgers to serve to students and fans before the game. MEGAN FARMER/THE WORLD-HERALD
Tuesday, Dec 6, 2016

​​​​This article is written by Jon Nyatawa, World-Herald staff writer. It was posted on Omaha.com on November 25, 2016.

Tony Jones stood behind the grill and peered out at a green space that would soon be full of familiar faces bustling about as they filled their plates before a Boys Town playoff football game.

There were bins packed with burgers and brats. A table loaded with cookies. A tub of ice-chilled bottles of water. And plenty of Boys Town staffers ready to serve and direct traffic.

"Um-hum. All right," Jones said as he nodded his head on a gorgeous late-October Friday. "We're ahead of the game." He checked over the scene once more. "Yeah, we're ahead of the game."

Jones has confidently claimed this before. Almost every week, actually. His buddy and right-hand man, Joey Butler, confirms this.

But the moment they start relaxing, then suddenly the line is backing up and the picnic tables are filling up. Somewhere between 200 and 300 people tend to show up — Boys Town students, teachers and their families, graduates, friends, police officers, opposing fans, and essentially anyone else whose nose could recognize that classic barbecue aroma.

But Jones won't ever complain. This tailgate idea was something he and some colleagues came up with a couple of decades ago.

They're Boys Town Family-Teachers — living on-site with their own families while they provide a stable home environment for six to eight students per family. They're always looking for ways to create new experiences for the kids, who may not have been consistently exposed to a community setting before stepping foot on the Boys Town campus.

What's better than food, football and fun?

"It gives us the opportunity to meet and greet, an opportunity to get together, meet new people and have a good time," Jones said.

This has been the routine for every Boys Town home game Butler can remember for 20 years. Rain or shine. Pleasant or frigid.

Jones and Butler started setting up the grill around 2 p.m. on this particular afternoon, a little bit earlier than usual. They were mostly done cooking by the time folks started arriving three hours later. Even then, they were always on the ready, quick to offer a bottle of water to a thirsty kid while they closely monitored their stash of meat.

Meanwhile, the place was coming alive.

Music emanating from the football field's PA system echoed off the nearby buildings. The hip-hop beat at one point inspired a couple of girls to start a quick dance-off. A half-dozen footballs were punted and tossed about. A couple of kids dribbled a soccer ball through traffic. The basketball court hosted a shooting contest, a dribbling battle, a two-on-two bout, and then a four-on-four game. Some families sat picnic-style underneath trees. Others simply crowded onto a picnic table and started sharing stories.

"We've got kids and families from all walks of life here," said Jeff Peterson, Boys Town home campus director. "It's a tremendous organization to work for. We try to make events out of everything. We believe that's part of the healing (nature) of this place."

They've grilled out for a couple of volleyball games this fall. Dinner on Thanksgiving Day will be a momentous gathering in all of the Boys Town households. Christmas is just as big.

Jones is glad this tailgate is part of that.

He remembers it starting as a backyard party, right next to the football field. About six Weber grills were lined up side by side, with kids and parents bringing their own items to be cooked. But it's grown every year since.

And on Oct. 28, a picture-perfect evening before a Class C-1 playoff game between Boys Town and Fairbury, Jones was having a blast. He was stationed behind his grill, cherishing every moment.

"That's why I'm standing here, right by the grill, because you can see everything," he said. "And I ​like to see all the smiles on the kids' faces. This is fun."​

new-era-of-behavioral-health-research-at-boys-town-national-research-hospitalNew Era of Behavioral Health Research at Boys Town National Research HospitalNebraska
Tuesday, Dec 6, 2016

​​This article was posted on wowt.com​ on November 22, 2016.

As Boys Town prepares to celebrate 100 years of service to children and our community, state of the art technology will help researchers better understand troubled young people.

A new era of childhood behavioral health is underway at Boys Town National Research Hospital. This impressive machine is part of the effort. Using magnetic resonance imaging a research team led by Dr. James Blair is looking for unusual activity in the brains of troubled children.

"Understanding what brain systems are necessary for performing particular functions and if those brain systems aren't working so well what types of behavioral problems we might see in the child and therefore understand some of the reasons for those behavioral problems and then potentially augment interventions to help those children better in the future," said James Blair Ph.D.

Subjects play video games while the machine tracks activity in the brain.

"These computer games are organized around making specific brain circuits work and so we can then see those brain circuits on the machine behind us and see the extent to which those systems are working well," Blair explained.

He's excited about what the team is seeing so far and what their work will do.

"Change the way that America cares for kids change the way that we adapt the interventions we have based around this increased knowledge of the strengths and difficulties that children have at the level of the brain," Blair said.

Blair doesn't expect this work will benefit every child who comes to Boys Town National Research Hospital but he thinks it will help some and that's an important step.

"About 20 percent of children who come to Boys Town who don't do as well as we would like to believe they ​should really help that 20 percent do even better in the future," he said.

Blair expects to see some of this research start to impact treatment as early as next year. ​

boys-town-receives-15000-grant-from-first-national-bank-of-omahaBoys Town Receives $15,000 Grant from First National Bank of OmahaNebraska
Tuesday, Dec 6, 2016

​​​​​​​​​​​Boys Town Among 51 Organizations to be Awarded Community Development Grant

November 30, 2016

Boys Town has ​been awarded a $15,000 grant from First National Bank of Omaha, which also operates as First National Bank Fremont and First National Bank North Platte. The grant will be used to fund the Ways to Work Program that operates out of the North Omaha Boys Town office.

"We are so grateful for this grant from First National Bank of Omaha," said Virginia Ayers, Boys Town Ways to Work Program Coordinator. "A reliable automobile makes a huge difference in the lives of these families."

In total, First National Bank of Omaha has awarded more than $1.1 million in community development grants to 51 organizations in Nebraska, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, South Dakota and Texas. The grants, which support Affordable Housing, Educated Workforce and Economic Development programs, mark the bank's final disbursement of grant funding for the year. First National Bank awarded a total of $1,840,000 in community development grants in 2016 to organizations across its seven-state service area. 

The Boys Town Ways to Work program provides small, short-term, low-interest loans to low-income families on a yearly basis as well as financial education, one-on-one credit and financial coaching and case management throughout the life of the loan. The loans will finance the purchase of an automobile to be used primarily for transportation to work, school, and childcare facilities and will enable individuals with challenging credit histories to remain in or move forward in their jobs and become banked by traditional financial institutions.

To view First National Bank's 2015 "First in the Community Impact Report" and learn more about the full extent of its community contributions, please visit: https://www.firstnational.com/site/about-us/in-the-community/index.fhtml

About Boys Town

For 100 years, Boys Town has been a beacon of hope for America's children and families through its life-changing youth care and health care programs. In 2015, almost 500,000 children and families across the United States were impacted by Boys Town programs. This includes those who received services from Boys Town's residential programs as well as those served by the many varied programs that comprise the Boys Town Integrated Continuum of Child and Family Services, including In-Home Family Services, health care services provided by Boys Town National Research Hospital and the Boys Town National Hotline. You can find more information about Boys Town online at www.Boystown.org.

About First National Bank of Omaha

First National Bank of Omaha is a subsidiary ​of First National of Nebraska. First National of Nebraska is the largest privately owned ​banking company in the United States.  First National of Nebraska and its affiliates have ​​​​more tha​n ​$21 ​billion in assets and 5,000 employee associates. Primary banking offices are located in Nebraska, Colorado, Illinois, ​Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota and Texas.

###

Media Contacts:

Lauren Laferla
Lauren.Laferla@Boystown.org
w: 402.498.1273 m: 402.980.4403

Kara Neuverth
Kara.Neuverth@Boystown.org
402.498.1305

boys-town-alumna-returnsBoys Town Alumna ReturnsNebraska
Tuesday, Dec 6, 2016

​​​This article was posted on wowt.com on November 29, 2016.

A former student, whose life was saved by Boys Town, returned to help run the school and share the positive effects she felt.

Jennifer Lawrence was one of the many students that attended Boys Town High School. She was 15 when she enrolled but it wasn't just an education she received.

"Honestly that's not something I like to think about but I think if I hadn't come here I probably would have ended up killing myself" said Lawrence.

Lawrence says she was in a dark place when she arrived. Her home life was a mess. She felt lost and angry. After High School Lawrence spent 10 years in the Navy but she found herself wanting to return to Omaha and to Boys Town. Lawrence said Boys Town taught her some of the most important lessons of her life.

"Boys Town made the biggest difference they showed me how I could love myself and accept my flaws and move forward those things that happened in the past aren't, they don't have to be there forever," she said. "I feel like I'm back home here because this is my home." ​

jacobs-story-helping-parents-steer-teens-away-from-suicideJacob's Story | Helping Parents Steer Teens Away from SuicideNebraska
Tuesday, Dec 6, 2016

​​​This story was posted on wowt.com on November 29, 2016.

Depressed, sad and lonely, Jacob handed his mother a letter in 8th grade telling her that he wanted to kill himself.

"I hated going to school, hated being at home, just hated everything," said Jacob. "I dealt with bullying a lot. Most of the time, the bullying was verbal. They'd just call me names or make up stories about me that weren't true just to make everyone laugh at me."

After several years of sending her son to counselors and psychiatrists, Jacob's mother found hope for Jacob at Boys Town. Almost immediately there was a no ticeable change in his demeanor. He was engaged and confident for the first time in years.

"If Jacob hadn't gone to Boys Town, I don't think he would have graduated high school," his mother said. "And if he hadn't gone to Boys Town, I don't think he would be going to college to be a teacher. All of that happened because of Boys Town, so I'm very thankful."​

hotline-wine-event-raises-over-45000Hotline Wine Event Raises Over $45,000Nebraska
Tuesday, Dec 6, 2016

​​​Southwest Omaha Rotary Night Club recently held their 8th annual Fine Wine and Hors d'oeuvres tasting and silent auction to benefit Boys Town National Hotline on Thursday October 20, 2016. Held at A View on State, over $45,000 was raised through the generous donations of over 50 corporate sponsors including CenturyLink and through the generosity of  the more than 500 guests who participated in the event and silent auction.

Top auction items ranged from a University of Nebraska Husker Football Ticket package for four, to a three night stay in any Hyatt Hotel including airfare, concert tickets to Eric Church, a variety of signed sports memorabilia, family passes to a variety of different attractions and museums and many other gift cards to popular restaurants, baskets containing a variety of prizes and many more spectacular items.

Special volunteer, Aleah Peters, Miss Nebraska 2016, assisted with the event. Her platform on cyber bullying awareness aligns with the mission and goals of the services provided by the Boys Town National Hotline, including its Your Life, Your Voice website.

The amount raised will be used to help fund the cost of the texting and online chat services available through the Boys Town National Hotline. In addition, materials such as pencils, water bottles, posters and wallet cards containing the Hotline's contact information will be purchased and distributed to thousands of students within the Omaha community to provide those at risk with the necessary services to potentially save their lives.

"Thanks to our donors, we have been able to expand the hours of operation for our texting services," said Ginny Gohr, Director of the Boys Town National Hotline. "Since the inception of the service in 2014, the Hotline has handled over 500,000 messages."

The Boys Town National Hotline is a free service open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and is staffed with professionally trained Boys Town counselors. Counselors can be reached by telephone, email, chat or text message. In 2015 alone, the Hotline answered over 146,000 calls and over 37,000 emails, chats and texts. The majority of callers that reach out and use these services are struggling with mental health related issues, suicidal thoughts or relationship problems.

Thank you to all the generous donors and sponsors for making this year's Hotline Wine Fundraiser a success!​

state-farm-cheers-on-cowboys-donates-to-drivers-ed-programState Farm Cheers on Cowboys; Donates to Driver's Ed ProgramNebraska
Tuesday, Nov 29, 2016

​​From Left to ​Right: Paul Blomenkamp, Boys Town Associate Principal and Athletic Director; Rudy Partid, State Farm Employee; sons of Rudy Partid; Jeff Peterson, Senior Director, Boys Town Nebraska/Iowa Campus Operations; and Bob Reznicek, Boys Town Superintendent.

​The Boys Town Cowboys played their annual homecoming game against Concordia on Friday, October 7, 2016. The two teams battled it out while a large crowd cheered the Cowboys to a 21 to 14 victory.

​While the Cowboys' performance kept the crowd engaged, an even bigger highlight came during halftime. Rudy Partid, a State Farm employee, who was accompanied by his two sons and wife, presented Boys Town with a State Farm donation check totaling $20,000 in support of Boys Town's Drivers Education program.

"We are very grateful for this grant from State Farm. Learning to drive safely is an important life skill for Boys Town students and all high school students," said Father Steven Boes, Boys Town President and National Executive Director.

The Drivers Education program at Boys Town is taught by Cornhusker Driving School and focuses not only on the rules of the road and how to drive, but also on safety. Approximately 50-75 Boys Town juniors and seniors take driver's education every year. Of the students that completed the course, 100 percent obtained certificates of successful completion.

"State Farm is honored to be affiliated with safety efforts and quality organizations like Boys Town," said Kelly Pargett, State Farm Public Affairs Specialist. "Automobile crashes continue to be the No. 1 killer of teenagers, and it's our hope that programs like this will help lower the number of accidents on our roadways." 

State Farm has been a supporter of Boys Town's Drivers Education program since 2015. This partnership has helped fund the program and provided many youth with the opportunity to obtain their driver's license. Thanks again to State Farm for their generous donation and for helping Boys Town youth learn how to drive and remain safe while on the road.​

Boys-Town-Reaches-Omaha-Youth-Through-Speaker-SeriesBoys Town Reaches Omaha Youth Through Speaker SeriesNebraska
Sunday, Nov 13, 2016

​​On September 28, Boys Town employees spent a couple of hours talking to youth in the North Omaha community about healthy friendships at a "Friend Me" workshop.

Held at Mt. Calvary Church near the Boys Town North Omaha office, Alesia Montgomery, Boys Town Senior National Training Consultant and Laura Buddenberg, Director, Boys Town Pastoral Affairs, spent the evening discussing topics found in the book they co-authored titled Friend Me! 10 Awesome Tips to Fun and Friendship.

"The goal was to have youth walk away with a ​better understanding of how good friendships are created and to learn what social skills are necessary to maintain those friendships," said Alesia Montgomery.

"We were looking into things we can offer in the community," said Laura Buddenberg. "The beginning of the school year was a good time to have this workshop because kids and parents are interested in making and maintaining good friendships."

During the workshop, Buddenberg and Montgomery touched on friendship skills, such as getting along with others, being sensitive to others' feelings, being honest with your friend, knowing if you can trust somebody, and many more.

The workshop was a first for the Boys Town office in North Omaha, but both Montgomery and Buddenberg said there will be more to come. Both women are working with Nick Juliano, Senior Director of Community Impact for Boys Town, and North Omaha office employees to plan more workshops and events.

"We want to work with the North Omaha community to host more of these for parents and kids alike," added Montgomery.

In fact, Montgomery said they had a lot of help from the community to get the first speaker series event off the ground. A donation from SAC Federal Credit Union provided food and beverages for attendees and Mt. Calvary Church graciously served as the meeting spot.

"This was a great way to collaborate with other people in the community, and it took the entire community to make this event a success," she said.

Both parents and kids were happy to learn more about Boys Town and to learn more about creating healthy friendships. Each youth that attended the event received a signed copy of Buddenberg and Montgomery's book.

"The Sunday after we had the event, I had one mom come up to me and tell me how much her daughters really enjoyed the workshop," said Montgomery.

In addition to working with kids, Donna Stewart, Staff Psychologist, Boys Town East Behavioral Health Clinic, was on-hand to pass out brochures and talk with both parents and youth about the other programs and services Boys Town has to offer.

The next workshop will be for parents with a focus on mental health and will be held by Donna Stewart. ​

Many-Incredible-Children-Need-HomesMany 'Incredible Children' Need HomesNebraska
Friday, Nov 11, 2016

​​​This blog post is written by Matt Priest of Boys Town Foster Family Services. It was published on Omaha.com November 3, 2016.

The hustle of the holidays was full speed ahead. It was December 23, and I was ​working at a child welfare agency in Omaha. I was meeting with three children at a shelter who needed a foster care placement.

Entering children's shelters always brought mixed emotions for me. While it was great to interact with the children, the reality of their situation leading to a shelter stay was always at the forefront of my mind. And with it being two days before Christmas, I was determined more than ever to move these children to a safe, stable foster home.

As I checked in with staff at the facility, a young child crawled over to me and pulled on the bottom of my coat. David was temporarily staying there with his older sisters.

The children successfully transitioned to a foster home and blossomed. The foster parents worked to stabilize the children in their home while supporting the court's efforts to identify a permanent living arrangement. This typically means returning to a parent's home.

Days led to months. Months led to years. David and his sisters learned social skills, were involved in activities and improved in the classroom. And while the children flourished, their mom continued to struggle and the likelihood of these children returning home grew smaller.

Two years later, the court decided David and his sisters should be placed for adoption. The foster family had fallen in love with these children and wanted to adopt them. Paperwork was finalized and a date was set.

The children would get the same permanency other children their ages had. A chance to be kids. A chance to be "normal". As we finalized the paperwork and headed to court, the foster mom pulled me aside.

"Did you hear we decided on a new middle name for David? His middle name will be Matthew, after the worker who brought him into our lives. You ... He's named after you."

We shared a hug and wiped a few tears and proceeded into the courtroom to make the adoption official.

We work with a range of foster parents at Boys Town. Some desire to work with one child, others prefer siblings. Some have expertise with medical issues. Others are bi-lingual. And while many prefer fostering, some have the ability support a lifetime commitment to a child.

Regardless of your situation, we will guide you along the way and offer endless support. You are never alone in the process or the experience.

November is National Adoption Month. It is a time we recognize and educate others of the incredible children in the system needing an adoptive home. You don't need to be a perfect family to be a perfect place for a child. A number of children have a special holiday wish, to find a family they can call their own. You can get more information about becoming a foster parent here

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Matt Priest is married and has two children. He has worked in several capacities at Boys Town and currently is the director of Boys Town Foster Family Services. For the past 16 years, Matt has worked in foster care and adoption in the Omaha area.​

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