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bt-celebrates-a-century-of-building-familiesBoys Town Celebrates a Century of Building Families, Changing LivesNebraska
Catholic Voice
Friday, Sep 22, 2017

This article is written by Lisa Maxon of Catholic Voice. It was posted on September 20, 2017.

After living in several not-so-good environments, Lisa Morehouse Mabey arrived at Boys Town at the age of 15, looking for what she said she needed most: stability and love.

And that's exactly what she found.

Three years later, after graduating from high school there in 1989, she left with a stronger sense of self, greater confidence in her ability to make good choices, and love from a "real" family, said Mabey, now a wife, mother and successful hairstylist in Omaha.

"Boys Town was the first place I ever loved that showed me what a real family should look like," said Mabey, a member of St. James Parish in Omaha. "I honestly loved knowing there would be food on the table and a clean roof over my head. I loved coming home from school and having 'parents' that were there to support us every day."

A sense of security, opportunities for success and a support system are just some of the gifts young people have received from Boys Town, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Father Edward Flanagan founded the home for boys -- later for girls, too -- on Dec. 12, 1917, to keep them off the streets, provide guidance and love, and instill a sense of purpose in their lives.

Originally, the farmland he purchased was located on the outskirts of Omaha, but today it is in the center of the city. Considered a village, Boys Town has its own mayor, post office, police and fire departments and school system. Services have grown to also include a research hospital, national hotline and residential treatment center.

Father Flanagan, who died in 1948 at age 61, was a visionary who had the ability to engage his heart and head at the same time to find lasting solutions to the social problems of children in his day, said Father Steven Boes, current president and national executive director of Boys Town since 2005.

Father Flanagan was one of the first in the country to welcome children to live in a family-like environment where they were allowed to go to school, and to create an individual learning plan for each child in his care, Father Boes told the Catholic Voice, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Omaha.

He also believed in providing time for play, sports, music, the arts and religion to help kids heal in body, mind and spirit, Father Boes said. Once these were in place, Father Flanagan spent much of his time advocating for the closure of all reform schools and the transformation of all faith-based orphanages to reflect these principles, he said.

"The mission of Boys Town has always been to change the way the U.S. cares for kids," Father Boes said.

For nearly a century, Boys Town has advocated for residential care with a "familylike" model, with six to eight children with emotional and behavioral issues living with one married couple. Over the last 20 years, however, that focus has shifted more toward providing preventative services in an effort to keep children with their own families, and Boys Town is providing some of that care.

Boys Town research shows that children must be in their program for six months to a year before a real impact is made, said Kara Neuverth, director of media relations, marketing and communications for Boys Town.

But many states are no longer paying for children to stay in residential care for that long, she said. That's why in June, Boys Town announced the closing of Boys Town sites in New York, Texas and California, including one residential care site in Orange County. The resources from those sites are being filtered back into the nine remaining Boys Town sites in six states, including the main campus in Omaha, and the District of Columbia, she said.

Changes in how children are cared for may have taken place over the past 100 years, but Father Flanagan's focus on improving the lives of children remains the same.

Daniel Chesire, an Omaha attorney and 1965 graduate of Boys Town, said living on the campus for about 11 years as a young boy not only gave him and his brothers a safe place to live and grow after their mother died and their father could no longer care for them, it also provided academic and athletic opportunities, and an environment to foster his Catholic faith.

"Because of my experience at Boys Town, I learned that a family that prays together, breaks bread together, and laughs together, establishes an unbreakable bond," said Chesire, who is married and has two grown children.

A member of St. Stephen the Martyr Parish in Omaha, he still has a connection to Boys Town as a member of the Father Flanagan League Society of Devotion, which is working on Father Flanagan's cause for sainthood. He and his wife also make weekly visits to Father Flanagan's tomb at the campus' Dowd Chapel to pray for the young people at Boys Town and for the country.

Father Boes said it is an honor to follow in Father Flanagan's footsteps.

"His love of the kids, his vision for a better system of care, and his spirituality inspire me," he said. "His famous quote about what would happen to Boys Town after he died is, 'The work will continue, you see, because it is God's work and not mine.' I believe that this is God's work."


boys-town-grad-shaquil-barrett-returns-to-broncos-active-roster-with-hopes-of-playing-by-mid-SeptemberBoys Town grad Shaquil Barrett returns to Broncos' active roster, with hopes of playing by mid-SeptemberNebraska
Shaquil Barrett
Monday, Aug 28, 2017

This article was posted on on August 22, 2017.

Denver Broncos outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett has been cleared to resume football activities, giving the former Boys Town and UNO player hopes of returning by the first or second game of the NFL regular season.

Barrett suffered a hip injury in May while working out on his own. The injury did not require surgery, as originally feared, leaving the Broncos optimistic about the backup's return.

Barrett participated in individual drills Tuesday after being moved from the non-football injury list to the active roster.

Denver recently has been hit by injuries to outside linebacker Shane Ray (wrist) and defensive end DeMarcus Walker (hip). Also currently sidelined are defensive ends Derek Wolfe (ankle) and Jared Crick (back). The Broncos are hopeful that Crick, a former Nebraska player, can return in time for the Sept. 11 opener with San Diego.

Barrett is a fourth-year pro whose best season came in 2015, when he made six starts and had 5.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. After playing as a true freshman at UNO in 2010, he transferred when the Mavericks dropped football and finished his college career at Colorado State, where he was the Mountain West defensive player of the year in 2013.

sixth-annual-blue-water-bash-draws-large-turnoutSixth Annual Blue Water Bash Draws Large TurnoutNebraska
Blue Water Bash 2017
Monday, Aug 28, 2017

​The 6th annual Blue Water Bash was a huge success with more than 250 local residents and supporters from surrounding states raising over $100,000 for the camp. Guests were treated to homemade root beer floats from sponsor 1919 Root Beer along with tours from 12 Boys Town Youth Ambassadors.

Those in attendance participated in live and silent auctions as well as a heads or tails game. Local Okoboji and Omaha businesses donated the 88 silent auction items ranging from autographed sports memorabilia, lake life staples, wine baskets, jewelry, a Templeton Rye barrel and even a large floating magic carpet perfect for summers on the lake. The live auction featured 11 sought after experiences which included; Thomas Rhett and Faith Hill & Tim McGraw concert tickets, a week stay on Nye Beach in Oregon, a private wine dinner for 10 at Paragon Dundee, a week in Mexico at the Grand Mayan Resort, Phoenix Open tickets with a stay at the luxurious Phoenician Resort, a family slumber party at the Henry Doorly Zoo, and the fan favorite catered brunch for 30 of your best friends at the Okoboji Classic Cars museum.

"The generous community of Okoboji has stepped up year after year to support the Blue Water Bash which has enabled Boys Town to renovate and preserve our camp for future generations of Boys Town youth and Family-Teachers to enjoy," Melissa Steffes Development Officer said.  "We are so grateful to our sponsors and guests for their support of Boys Town and our Okoboji Camp."

The camp has received many necessary updates to its buildings and landscape in recent years thanks to the help of many generous donations from this event. Two years ago, Phase I renovations were completed to include the addition of two structures to house a camp director and a cook. Last year a handicap accessible restroom and quarters to house Family-Teachers and priests were completed. The final phase of construction was completed this year prior to the start of the summer season for campers to enjoy. The exterior of the building was bricked and shingled with a Cape Cod design, skylights and all new windows were added, a new open air game room was constructed complete with cool glass garage doors, and a coveted new basketball court with hoops were also installed.

osi-pigskin-preview-boys-townOSI Pigskin Preview: Boys TownNebraska
Thursday, Aug 17, 2017

This article is written by Ben Stevens. It was posted on on August 14, 2017.

After a successful 9-3 season in 2016 that included a trip to the quarterfinals, Boys Town is focused on building together this season to make an even deeper postseason run.

The Cowboys return seven total starters and under first-year head coach, Chris Nizzi, making more of a connection across the team has Boys Town hopeful heading into the 2017 season.

"Biggest improvement is we have more of a connection, more of a family, we've got more of a bond between the teammates on the team," said Tijaih Davis, the Cowboys senior quarterback/cornerback.

Boys Town opens the 2017 campaign on Friday, August 25th against Syracuse.

Its-very-nostalgic-it-really-is-hundreds-ride-back-in-time'It’s very nostalgic, it really is': Hundreds ride back in time on Union Pacific passenger train in Omaha-Columbus round tripNebraska
Union Pacific train ride
Wednesday, Aug 16, 2017

This article is written by Marcella Mercer, World-Herald staff writer. It was posted on on August 14, 2017.

Sunday morning, a Union Pacific passenger train surged forth out of Omaha once again.

As the commemorative train pulled away from the Durham Museum, Bennington retiree F. J. Richter looked out the dome windows on the second level of the train car and broke into a grin.

"I've really been looking forward to this," he said.

"It's like you're a kid, right?" his wife, Sue, replied.

The black tops of a coal train streaked by in the opposite set of windows, a reminder that most trains in the U.S. these days are hauling cargo, not people.

But this weekend, nearly 400 people hopped on the train as part of a fundraising event for the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs. The ride from Omaha to Columbus and back traced the start of the transcontinental railroad route.

Union Pacific discontinued passenger service in 1971, but it occasionally conducts rides on its historical heritage fleet to benefit the museum. The last such ride was in 2010. The trips have been the museum's largest fundraising effort, a spokeswoman said.

The rides draw train enthusiasts from across the country, former Union Pacific employees and people looking to relive memories of the heyday of rail travel.

Nearly 400 people were aboard a dozen Union Pacific heritage passenger cars as the Union Pacific Railroad Museum provided a historic round trip excursion via railroad from Omaha to Columbus, Neb., on Sunday, August 13, 2017.

The family of Iowan Ruth Roberts Heller marked her 100th birthday, which she celebrates Wednesday, by making the trip Sunday.

"She's only wanted to ride a streamliner for almost 85 years," her son, Rollie Roberts said. "We thought it was about time."

Her last train ride was in 1936, as she headed off from her hometown of Dunlap, Iowa, to Iowa State University in Ames. Sunday, she enjoyed the scenery streaming by the tracks.

"It's just lovely to see the country, all the tall corn, especially because we're farm people," she said.

Nigel Eacock of Cheltenham, England, said the idea of seeing more of the Midwest attracted him to this train ride as well. A retired government worker, he spent about 200 days last year taking train rides around the world.

"I've actually found that small town America is much, much more interesting than the large cities," he said.

A few cars up, a car was filled with students from Boys Town who had received tickets on behalf of the museum. For many in the group, it was their first train ride.

"It's pretty exciting," said 18-year-old Tanner Sayavong.

"It's slow," remarked 15-year-old Josh Reed from two seats away.

A hiccup came as the train stopped for about an hour after the freight train in front of it halted to handle a breakdown.

But the delay didn't dampen the enthusiasm of many of the riders.

Back in the 1950s, Richard Ahrenholtz recalls thinking he should take the train while he could, and he rode by rail several times from his San Francisco naval base to Omaha, on his way home to Iowa.

"That was the way to travel," he said. "It's very nostalgic, it really is."

bt-national-hotline-partnership-impacts-omahaBoys Town National Hotline Partnership Impacts Omaha CommunityNebraska
Thursday, Aug 3, 2017

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. This national network contains over 160 local crisis centers, including the Boys Town National Hotline®. To spread the word about the services the Hotline provides, Boys Town looked to local organizations that are dedicated to improving the community and supporting those in crises.

The Boys Town National Hotline reached out to Omaha Public Schools (OPS) Counselor's Office to brainstorm ways that the Hotline can get its word out about its services. While this conversation was occurring, Bob Giddings, Hotline Development Officer, was working with Nebraska Medicine about how they could help the Hotline and impact the Omaha community. This collaboration resulted in Nebraska Medicine funding Hotline materials for OPS students, a community that could greatly benefit from the support of the Hotline.

Boys Town National Hotline materials were distributed to every Omaha Public School. These materials included banners, posters, pencils, Hotline wallet cards and Hotline flyers. In addition, Boys Town also provided a series of four free parenting workshops that were provided to OPS parents. These two initiatives, communicating information about the Hotline and the free parenting classes, came together to yield successful results.

Communication between the Omaha Metropolitan community and the Hotline increased substantially through this partnership, with emails to the Hotline up 208 percent, online chats up 200 percent and texting up 84 percent. In addition, the overall contacts to the Hotline were up 68 percent from January to June in 2016.

Being able to partner with one of the largest hospital organizations in Omaha and the largest school district in Omaha was instrumental for Boys Town's development and outreach. It allowed the Hotline to reach thousands of children and teens in the community that wouldn't have reached out before. It not only aided the community, but it also built a relationship between all three organizations.

"It was so rewarding knowing that communication about Hotline services was going to reach over 80,000 students in our own community," said Ginny Gohr, Director of the National Hotline. "I cannot thank Nebraska Medicine enough for the donation to make this happen and Omaha Public Schools for their willingness and commitment to provide Hotline information to all of their students and parents in a more formal, organized way."

Congratulations to the Boys Town National Hotline for its successful partnership and thank you to Nebraska Medicine and Omaha Public Schools for your dedication to providing emotional support to the Greater Omaha Metropolitan area. Together, we can all prevent suicide.

the-more-you-give-the-more-you-have-fatbraingives-toys-to-foster-family-servicesThe More You Give, The More You Have: FatBrain Toys Gives Toys to Foster Family ServicesNebraska
FatBrain Toys Gives
Monday, Jul 24, 2017

​​​​​​​​​​There are over 3,300 children in the Nebraska foster care system. We at Boys Town know that this is a time where children are vulnerable, confused and hurting. These children often have nothing but the clothes on their backs, and it is our job to carry out the Boys Town mission and make these children feel comfortable so we can lead them on a path to healing. Having even just one toy during this transition can mean the world to a child within the foster care system, and that's why it was such a privilege to be a part of the Fat Brain Toys #FatBrainGives campaign!

Throughout the month of May, Fat Brain Toys partnered with Delivering Good, Inc to give back to children in need. For every toy bought from their selected donation list, they donated a toy directly to charities that are dedicated to keeping kids safe. This year Boys Town was selected as one of the organizations that received toys through the #FatBrainGives campaign! Their goal was to donate 10,000 toys to children in the Omaha area who need it most.

Now, with the campaign concluded, the #FatBrainGives campaign met their goal and raised 10,000 toys for four organizations dedicated to giving back to the community. Out of these, a total of 2,500 toys will be donated to Boys Town Foster Family Services.

"Certainly any donation to Boys Town Foster Family Services is vital," said Matthew Priest of Boys Town Foster Family Services. "A move for a child can be very traumatic. Giving our children a sense of normalcy, with belongings and comfort items they can call their own, is very important. Foster Care is a community-based program and we are so appreciative of community partners such as Fat Brain. Together we are making our communities stronger and healthier."

The #FatBrainGives campaign is one that will play an important and pivotal role in a child's healing. Thank you to Fat Brain Toys and Delivering Good, Inc for the generous and to all who have dedicated their time and resources to support Boys Town Foster Family Services.

boys-town-iowa-receives-45000-for-in-home-workBoys Town Iowa receives $45,000 for in-home workNebraska
Thursday, Jul 20, 2017

This article is written by Tim Johnson. It was posted on on July 19, 2017. 

Boys Town has been awarded a $70,000 grant from United Way of the Midlands that will help fund programs in Iowa and Nebraska.

Boys Town Iowa received $45,000 of the grant for its In-Home Family Services, and Boys Town received $25,000 for its Ways to Work program in South Omaha, a press release from Boys Town stated.

"We are very grateful for the continued support of United Way of the Midlands," the Rev. Steven Boes, Boys Town president and national executive director, said in the release. "This grant allows us to continue to offer important services to families in need of them."

The funding for Boys Town Iowa represents a renewal of an annual grant the In-Home Family Services program first received in 2015, according to Debbie Orduna, executive director of Boys Town Iowa. Boys Town Iowa has worked with almost 100 youth since it partnered with United Way.

Boys Town Iowa has 50 family services consultants scattered throughout the 30 western Iowa counties the program serves, Orduna said. The consultants work with families on behavioral and parenting issues, often after a referral by a school, and are available 24 hours a day to help families manage crises.

The staff works closely with parents and school officials to design a service plan for each youth. The goal is to give parents the tools they need to be successful and keep children safe and in their own homes.

"Oftentimes, families being referred to us, there are pretty complex issues," she said. "We're able to go in, conduct an assessment and provide direct services, but also to make sure they have access to other services they might need."

Boys Town Iowa will collaborate with FAMILY Inc. of Council Bluffs to provide health education, transportation to appointments, health screening and preventive oral health services to children that Boys Town consultants will refer, according to the release.

Boys Town Iowa also serves many families through its Common-Sense Parenting classes and Hope 4 Iowa crisis line, Orduna said.

Boys Town, in partnership with Heartland Family Service, now offers Ways to Work at the South Omaha Boys Town office. The Ways to Work program will provide small, short-term, low-interest loans to 40 to 50 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.

Boys-Town-celebrates-100-years-with-alumni-supporters-in-OmahaBoys Town celebrates 100 years with alumni, supporters in OmahaNebraska
Monday, Jul 17, 2017

​​​Hundreds of Boys Town alumni from all over the country reunite in Omaha to celebrate 100th anniversary.

This story is written by Chinh Doan, KETV Anchor/Reporter. It was posted on​ on July 14, 2017.

Hundreds of alumni from all over the country are in Omaha this week for a once-in-a-lifetime celebration.

Alumni said it's a family reunion and a reminder of the impact Boys Town continues to make on countless lives.

Mike Silvers and John Silvers are brothers and Boys Town graduates from the 1970s who traveled to Omaha from out of state to participate in the anniversary festivities.

John Mollison, Boys Town alumni director and class of 1964 graduate, has spent months organizing the week's events for former students and their families.

Mollison said it's a homecoming honoring 100 years of caring for America's children and families.

"It worked for me and my generation and it's working for today's kids and their generation," said Mollison.

He said the alumni and current students will always share a special bond.

"Boys Town is a place where anybody can be successful and come from any type of background, from anywhere around the world, and become who they want to be because they have people here who care about them," said 17-year-old Jason Landin, a current student and mayor of the Village of Boys Town.

Both staff and students said the legacy of its founder, Father Edward Flanagan, lives on through social change and a focus on quality care and preventative programs.

"We've taken the technology of helping kids outside their home and placed it in front of millions of America's homes through the internet, through our 800-number and our parent training and even an intervention called 'in-home services,' where we really are one-on-one mentoring a troubled family so that the child can stay at home and be successful and live their dream," said Rev. Steven Boes, Boys Town's fifth executive director.

Mollison told KETV NewsWatch 7 the oldest alum present at the celebration is 100 years old, which is pretty fitting for the anniversary.

For more information on the centennial anniversary, visit its website.​

Chronicle-Father-Flanagan's-Home-for-Boys-is-going-strong-years-laterChronicle: Father Flanagan's Home for Boys is going strong years laterNebraska
Monday, Jul 17, 2017

This video is by Maggie Cunningham, KETV Digital Media Manager. It was posted on​ on July 15, 2017.


An in-depth look at the history, evolution and future plans for Boys Town and Father Flanagan's Home for Boys.

boys-town-has-large-presence-at-college-world-seriesBoys Town Has Large Presence at College World SeriesNebraska
Boys Town Color Guard at College World Series
Monday, Jul 10, 2017

​There is one special time of the year where people from across the country flock to the middle of the United States and bond over their shared love of America's past time. The College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska draws hundreds of thousands of people together to celebrate achievement in the game of baseball. This year, Boys Town had a special place in the College World Series, including an opportunity to perform on the field, an opportunity to have a booth in Baseball Village and an opportunity for the youth and families of Boys Town to attend the College World Series.

The Boys Town Color Guard and Voices has participated in the National Anthem Ceremonies of the College World Series for over 20 years; while other presenters must audition each year for a spot, Boys Town is awarded a special spot in these ceremonies. This year the Voices of Boys Town sang the National Anthem during game 9, accompanied by a video on the scoreboard honoring Boys Town's 100 year celebration.

In addition to these presentations, Boys Town was chosen for the Flying Flags Charity event. The organizers of Omaha Baseball Village host this event as a way to recognize local nonprofits, while also raising the flags for the teams participating in the College World Series. This year Boys Town was chosen to tell the community about our organization and what we do for the community. Boys Town then raised the flag for Florida State University, who's a great supporter of Boys Town North Florida.

If fans wanted to learn more about Boys Town they were able to head over to Baseball Village to view our booth. This presented the perfect setting to reintroduce fans to Boys Town and its mission. Employees at the booth were able to talk about Boys Town programs, show off Boys Town baseball memorabilia and encourage the CWS fans to visit the Village.  

"The Boys Town display at Baseball Village is a wonderful baseball-related collection of artifacts," said Herb Hames, Senior Development Director, Nebraska/Iowa Region. "The College World Series is the biggest sports event in Omaha and I love that Boys Town has been involved and that our kids get to attend it."

That's right, each year Boys Town is the recipient of hundreds of general admission tickets by the Directors of the College World Series Board. Hames has been involved with the College World Series for 28 years as the volunteer ticket chairman, which gives youth the opportunity to get off campus and enjoy a night of baseball and making memories with their brothers, sisters and Family-Teachers.

As a special gift, Boys Town's Vice Mayor also presented a copy of our 100 Year Anniversary book to Jack Diesing, Chair of College World Series Inc, and Ron Prettyman, Managing Director of Championships and Alliances for the NCAA.

"This is an exciting year for Boys Town and we're so grateful to the event organizers for recognizing the importance of our centennial and providing us with the opportunity to share Father Flanagan's dream with baseball fans from across the country," said Melissa Farris, Boys Town Marketing Specialist. "None of it would have been possible, however, without the support of dozens of employees and their families who volunteered at our exhibit at the Omaha Baseball Village or were involved in other College World Series events to represent Boys Town."

tough-choice-pays-off-for-tj-Davis-who-has-become-leader-on-the-football-field-at-Boys-TownTough choice pays off for Ti’jaih Davis, who has become leader on, off football field at Boys TownNebraska
Monday, Jul 10, 2017

TJ FootballTi'jaih Davis arrived at Boys Town in June 2014 from a rough neighborhood in Baltimore, mainly for two reasons. First, he wanted to avoid the violence and distractions of his hometown. Second, he wanted to be a positive influence on his family.

The decision was not easy for Davis and his mother, whom he left in Baltimore when he was 14. But it has proven to be a good one.

Davis, entering his final year as a Boys Town quarterback and defensive back, accepted a scholarship offer in late June to play in the secondary at South Dakota State. He picked the Jackrabbits over an offer from fellow FCS school North Dakota. He also had interest from North Dakota State. It's unlikely that any of the schools would have been aware of Davis' football abilities had he stayed on the East Coast.

And he might not have achieved as much.

"In Baltimore there is a lot of violence and not many opportunities to be successful and achieve the goals you set for yourself," he said, thinking back on his decision at 14. "This would get me out of all of the distractions and away from the crime in Baltimore."

Now he wants to parlay his full scholarship into a degree and be in position to help his family financially.

"I wanted to set myself up to be financially stable and support myself, my family and make sure that no one in my family has to struggle," he said.

The 6-foot, 175-pound Davis, who also goes by T.J., has started at defensive back since arriving at Boys Town as a freshman. As a junior, he started playing quarterback and set single-season school records for passing yards and touchdowns.

He's also grown into a leader of the Boys Town community, elected by students as vice mayor for the 2017-18 school year.

Chris Nizzi, Boys Town's new football coach, has been impressed.

"Ti'jaih understands that leaders need to be humble and workers first," Nizzi said. "That has been an important piece to the beginning of our workouts in the summer and hopefully going into our season. We are very eager to see how he grows as a quarterback, defensive back, football player and young man in our football program."

Davis didn't know what to expect from Nizzi but said he has been impressed with his new coach.

"He has done a whole lot for me that I didn't expect from a coach," Davis said. "He has held us accountable and teaches us discipline. He has been a big factor in getting me out there in front of coaches."

"At Boys Town you just have to keep your head up and stay disciplined," he said. "Here you are going to make a lot of mistakes even though they seem like the smallest mistakes in the real world. They hold you accountable for everything."

Leaving home and being away from his family for three-plus years has been hard, but he realizes that it has helped him achieve a new perspective.

"With your actions you can help a lot of other people because when someone sees someone else doing something (good), they believe they can do it," Davis said. "No matter what is going on, you can't stop and can never let up."


boys-town-and-lincoln-electric-partnership-supports-youth-developmentBoys Town and Lincoln Electric: Partnership Supports Youth DevelopmentNebraska
Lincoln Electric
Monday, Jul 3, 2017

​Without roads to drive on, mechanics to fix our cars, welders to build our bridges and plumbers that come to our rescue, where we would we be? The fact of the matter is tradespeople are essential to our society, yet many still believe that trades are a secondary option or are less than compared to other jobs. Jim Clements and Lincoln Electric, the world's largest provider of welding and cutting equipment, are both doing their part to destigmatize trade jobs and provide Boys Town youth with the skills and knowledge necessary to have successful trade careers once they're out of the system.

Jim Clements began his career at Boys Town in the housekeeping department in 2001 and immediately fell in love with the work and support that Boys Town provides. In 2010 he returned with his wife and served as a Family Teacher for five years before working as a hotline counselor and, finally, finding his place as the vocational teacher at Boys Town High School.

Now, as the Technical Trades Instructor, Clements dedicates his time addressing the stigma surrounding trade jobs and inspiring youth to follow their passions regardless of what society has to say. "I have always been a firm believer that skilled tradespeople are the backbone of our society," said Clements. "Teaching trades to our students gives them a sense of purpose and fulfillment that many of them have never experienced. Having a part of that and knowing that the classes I run for these kids might be the catalyst for a lifelong career is humbling and rewarding, and it's probably the biggest reason I get up every morning and come to work."

Lincoln Electric originally took an interest in Boys Town after hearing that the welding program needed equipment. After learning about Boys Town and the youth that come through the program they knew that they wanted to partner with Boys Town and generously donated a multi-process welding machine, a plasma torch, a TIG welder and a number of their high-quality welding helmets. "The fact of the matter is that we simply could not have made this class work as well as we have without these generous donations," said Clements.

Boys Town supports the idea that trades are not a secondary choice and can be viable careers for the youth. With the rising cost of tuition at four-year universities, more people are beginning to understand the value of trade careers. With passionate teachers like James Clements and companies like Lincoln Electric who are dedicated to supporting welding education for Boys Town youth, we are ensuring that our students are going out into the world one step ahead of the competition.

"My students have heard me say this a thousand times: Going into skilled trades should be considered a victory, not a consolation prize. For too long we have let the universities convince us and our kids that the question to be asked of our future is 'are you good enough for college, or will you get stuck doing manual labor?'" said Clements. "My humble opinion is that maybe it's time for us to turn that philosophy on its head and start asking our kids if they have the skills to become something as important as a tradesperson."

Boys Town: Trade Life
Watch the video below for the full story of Boys Town's new welding program and the involvement from Lincoln Electric. This video originally appeared on

during-wwII-boys-town-housed-japanese-americans-escaping-forced-internmentDuring WWII, Boys Town housed Japanese-Americans escaping forced internment. The homes are coming down, but the story enduresNebraska
Japanese Americans
Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

This article is written by Blake Ursch, World-Herald staff writer. It was published on  on June 26, 2017.

Until recently, a handful of small, white homes surrounded a tree-shaded cul-de-sac amid farmland west of Boys Town — a picture of the midcentury American Dream.

The scene, now visible to those driving near 144th Street and West Dodge Road, looks very different today. Trees are now stumps, heaped in the middle of the street. The homes have been reduced to piles of concrete, splintered wood and twisted metal. Some are leveled entirely, and others are smoldering ruins after controlled burns conducted last week by the Boys Town Fire Department.

The houses and surrounding buildings are giving way to a $1.2 billion entertainment, residential and retail district, currently being developed by Noddle Cos. Some pieces of the other structures will be incorporated into the new development. But the homes are to be cleared.

They were simple dwellings built for simple reasons. The homes were completed in the early 1940s, meant to house extra hands who would be needed to work the farm as Boys Town grew. In later years, they were home to children and caregivers on campus. After a time, they stood empty.

But hidden in their past is another story. Decades ago, shortly after they were finished, these homes would come to represent something important — security, comfort, welcome — for a group of people who had all three taken from them.

During World War II, some of these houses sheltered Japanese-Americans escaping forced internment on the West Coast. They came here at the urging of legendary Boys Town founder Father Edward Flanagan, who found them jobs on campus or helped them establish new lives in cities outside of Omaha.

In total, more than 200 relocated Japanese-Americans spent time at Boys Town during the war, said Tom Lynch, director of community programs at Boys Town. Some were just passing through, moving on to other opportunities. About 30 stayed on campus, living and working as barbers, bus drivers, farmhands, typists and gardeners.

After the war, some remained at Boys Town or settled elsewhere in Omaha. Their children and grandchildren still live here today.

"Boys Town was good to (my father) and our family, so we just stayed there," said Roger Oshima, 61. His father, Mike Oshima, came to Boys Town during the war and worked there in various roles — a carpenter, a locksmith, captain of the fire department — for more than 50 years.

But Mike Oshima had a life before he came here. He was a commercial fisherman in Long Beach, California.

Then, on Dec. 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. And Mike Oshima's life, along with those of about 120,000 other Japanese-Americans on the West Coast, would change forever.


"Instructions to all persons of Japanese Ancestry," begins a flyer dated May 3, 1942. "Pursuant to the provisions of Civilian Exclusion Order No. 33 ... all persons of Japanese Ancestry, both alien and non-alien will be evacuated from the above area by 12 o'clock noon, P.W.T. Saturday, May 9, 1942."

The forced internment of Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast was signed into law by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on Feb. 19, 1942. Those affected were moved to temporary assembly centers, and later to 10 War Relocation Camps in seven states, allowed to bring only what they could carry. Families were registered and given tags to identify themselves and their possessions.

Mike Oshima and his family were moved to the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California. In later years, he never talked much about his experience, his son said. When he did, he spoke of having his fishing vessels confiscated and of knowing he would most likely never return to his home in California. Before he left for Manzanar, he later said, he grabbed an ax, entered his home and destroyed the place.

In Los Angeles, James and Margaret Takahashi had begun to worry.

"After Pearl Harbor ... people were getting angrier. You kept hearing awful rumors. You heard that people were getting their houses burned down. And we were afraid that those things might happen to us," Margaret later wrote.

The family, including the couple's three children, would be forced to an overcrowded, makeshift detention center at the Santa Anita racetrack in Arcadia, California. Eventually, they were moved to a camp in Amache, Colorado.

For many families, it was an agonizing, confusing experience.

"We didn't feel Japanese. We felt American. That was the way we were raised," Margaret Takahashi wrote.

Stories like these didn't sit well with the priest in Omaha.

"I see no disaster threatening us because of any particular race, creed or color," Flanagan said around this time. "But I do see danger for all in an ideology which discriminates against anyone politically or economically because he or she was born into the 'wrong' race, has skin of the 'wrong' color or worships at the 'wrong' altar."

And so, as the internment began, Flanagan began to work with a Catholic organization in Los Angeles, the Maryknoll Fathers, to bring people out of the internment camps to Boys Town. His motives were practical as much as they were altruistic: Many on his staff had left to join the war effort, and Flanagan needed new workers to oversee the 400 boys on campus.

He wrote letters to the War Relocation Authority, outlining his open positions. To secure their release, Flanagan had to prove that any Japanese-Americans at Boys Town would be legitimately employed, and therefore supervised.

"They were basically on parole," Lynch said.

On an order form issued by the relocation department for a farmhand, Flanagan lists housing available: "If man is married, there will be an eight-room completely modern house. Electricity and water bills will be paid for. His salary will be $100 per month."

The homes described, those currently being demolished, were brand-new, Lynch said. And they may have seemed like palaces to someone coming from Manzanar, where detainees slept in stiflingly hot barracks, or from Santa Anita, where there were 30 people to every one shower.


By the end of 1943, there were 10 Japanese-Americans living at Boys Town. More would come later.

Mike Oshima arrived in Omaha in 1944. The previous year, he had seen an advertisement for a laborer position and persuaded camp authorities to recommend him to Flanagan.

The Takahashis also arrived after James wrote to Flanagan. James, a professional gardener and landscaper, was made supervisor of the grounds. He wrote back to other Manzanar detainees and, with Flanagan's help, brought 20 others to Boys Town.

Not everyone supported Flanagan's efforts. One of the biggest critics was Los Angeles Mayor Fletcher Bowron.

Bowron thought one man in particular was too dangerous to be let out of the camps. That man, Patrick Okura, was a psychologist who had been a personnel examiner for the City of Los Angeles before being forced out of a job and into a filthy room at Santa Anita. Newspapers accused Okura of being a spy.

Flanagan wrote to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover about Okura's case: "Either these people are guilty of subversive activities ... or they are not. If not — they are trying to be decent American citizens."

Okura eventually was allowed to go to Boys Town and helped more than 200 more detainees leave the internment camps.

Though many arrived at Flanagan's campus, only a few dozen stayed. Those that did were sheltered, somewhat, from the racial tensions that were flaring in other parts of the country. They celebrated weddings, like that of Ray and Barbara Uchiyamada in 1944. They tended victory gardens. The boys who exhibited prejudice against their new neighbors, Lynch said, were quickly reprimanded.

Off campus, Omaha generally was more tolerant of Japanese-Americans than other parts of the country at the time, said Kimi Takechi, 99, who moved here before the war, in 1937.

"They were very good to us," Takechi said of city residents. "There was very little bad feeling that we could feel."

Flanagan helped those passing through Boys Town find jobs elsewhere, often in the Midwest, Lynch said, which the government probably considered less vital to national security than the West Coast.

Some, like Katsu Okida, went on to serve in the 442nd Infantry Regiment, composed almost entirely of soldiers with Japanese ancestry.

Okida was killed in 1944. Flanagan wrote his family in Colorado, telling them that a special Mass would be said at Boys Town in his honor.


The West Coast reopened to Japanese-Americans in early 1945. The following year, President Harry Truman officially terminated the War Relocation Authority.

But by that time, many who were forced out were reluctant to return, having built lives in other places.

The Takahashis returned to California in 1947. Margaret didn't want to leave, she later wrote, but her husband "wanted to be his own boss."

"The evacuation did change our philosophy," she wrote. "It made you feel that you knew what it was to die, to go somewhere you couldn't take anything but what you had inside you. And so it strengthened you."

Okura worked as a psychologist at Boys Town for 17 years. He served as a psychologist for the State of Nebraska until 1970, when he moved to the Washington, D.C., area to take a job at the National Institutes of Health. He would become a civil rights leader, fighting for the rights of Japanese-Americans.

Before he left Nebraska, he founded the Omaha chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League. The group still serves as common ground for Omahans of Japanese ancestry, helping them connect and celebrate their cultural traditions.

Mike Oshima retired from Boys Town in 1998, after raising his family on the grounds. He served under three more executive directors after Flanagan's death in 1948.

"My dad was very loyal to Boys Town," said Oshima's daughter, Terry Burdett. "He appreciated the opportunities Father Flanagan gave him."

Today, there are few remnants of Omaha's link to the internment. Soon the last traces of the homes in the cul-de-sac will also be gone.

But those who know the story don't need them to remember.

cws-beavers-share-advice,-pick-up-new-fans-at-historic-boys-townCWS: Beavers share advice, pick up new fans at historic Boys TownNebraska
copyright Mark Ylen, Mid-Valley Media
Friday, Jun 23, 2017

This article is written by Bob Lunderberg. It was posted on on June 20, 2017.

Twelve hours after dismantling LSU in a showdown of college baseball superpowers, Oregon State players filed off the team bus outside Skip Palrang Memorial Field House Tuesday morning.

The Beavers were about to meet dozens of eager Boys Town students, some of whom witnessed their recent 13-1 victory at the College World Series. Jack Anderson, Drew Rasmussen and Adley Rutschman gave opening remarks under a banner listing Boys Town High's numerous state championships while students and faculty soaked in every word.

Players then fielded a variety of questions, ranging from the team's fastest runner (consensus: Preston Jones) to their reasons for choosing OSU (coaches, program history and family environment were the most common responses). When asked to identify the team's best player, Nick Madrigal was handed the microphone and sheepishly said "we're all equal."

The Pac-12 player of the year's endearing answer to a light-hearted question epitomized the Beavers' (56-4) prowess on and off the field. The response also resonated with many students who have been given a second chance at Boys Town.

"They are a very successful team and they've been through a lot of challenges this season," said Ti'Jaih Davis, a Boys Town senior from Baltimore. Davis competes in football, basketball and track for the Cowboys.

"It's great to have them come talk to us and motivate us to do what they're doing when we're in the position that they're in. It's inspiring to see."

Davis is one of about 250 high school students at Boys Town, a non-profit organization that is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Founded by Catholic priest Edward J. Flanagan as a boys orphanage — girls have been admitted since 1979 — Boys Town now has 12 campuses throughout the United States in California, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, New York, Nevada, Rhode Island, Texas and Washington, D.C. Its national headquarters are in Boys Town, Nebraska, a 1.36 square mile village surrounded by Omaha, about 12 miles west of TD Ameritrade Park.

"I just feel fortunate that these guys would bring us into their home," said OSU sophomore outfielder Steven Kwan. "This is a great place to be and I think it's interesting where people are from. Some of the kids introduced themselves from Maryland, Georgia, Florida. It was really cool talking to and getting to know all of them."

Many famous athletes have toured Boys Town over the years, including Michael Jordan, Peyton Manning, Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth. Mother Teresa, Nancy Reagan and Laura Bush have also visited.

The organization's mission statement is "changing the way America cares for children, families, and communities by providing and promoting an integrated continuum of care that instills Boys Town values to strengthen body, mind, and spirit."

The Nebraska campus features an on-site high school and residential treatment centers for children (ages 5 to 11) and adolescents (ages 12 to 18).

"We get kids here from all across the country," said Boys Town High Associate Principal and Athletic Director Paul Blomenkamp. "There are residential treatment centers all over, but Boys Town is unique because it is the only one that has a high school on the campus. They live here, they get treatment, but they also go to school here."

Instead of leaving campus, Boys Town students are able to compete in 11 sports with their peers. OSU practiced at the Cowboys' baseball field on Sunday after opening the CWS with a 6-5 win over Cal State Fullerton.

Deacon Jones, a two-time Olympic competitor in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, graduated from Boys Town in 1954. He went on to run cross-country at Iowa, becoming the first African-American to win the NCAA championships.

Current Denver Broncos linebacker Shaquil Barrett also attended Boys Town. Barrett, like Davis, came to Nebraska from the rough streets of Baltimore.

"Back home in Baltimore it's nothing but gangs, shootings, killing and drugs; that's it," said Davis, who has been at Boys Town for about three years. "So the only thing for us back home is to get into sports and basically just stay occupied and stay away from all the bad stuff that gets you off your mission of what you want to do.

"Everybody wants to make money, but it's about your choice of how you're going to make money. There's a positive way and a negative way, so I chose the positive way. My parents and my coaches got me to Boys Town so I can worry about one thing instead of a million."

Davis, a quarterback and defensive back, currently holds Division I offers from North Dakota and South Dakota State. With a big senior season, he hopes to attract even more attention.

His dream school? Clemson, the defending national champions.

"I just have to keep working," Davis said. "Have to keep getting faster, getting bigger, stay on my mission."

After speaking to the students, basketballs were brought out and games ensued.

Lengthy bump lines formed at a few of the hoops while others casually hoisted up jumpers. OSU's players, who are three wins away from the greatest season in college baseball history, got to learn even more about their newest fans.

"We hit the jackpot this year with Oregon State," said Herb Hames, the campus' Director of Development and a volunteer ticket chairman for the CWS. "They're an incredible team."

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