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from-trades-to-riches-profiting-from-past-mistakesFrom Trades to Riches: Profiting from Past MistakesNebraska
Trade Life
Monday, Dec 4, 2017

This article is written by Jim Clements. It was posted on realcleareducation.com on November 28, 2017.

Spray painting walls and hotwiring cars are not experiences most business leaders look for in job candidates. But a new focus at Boys Town is not only teaching at-risk kids how to overcome past mistakes but also to learn – and profit – from them.

Of course, helping at-risk youth conquer daunting obstacles is nothing new. This December, Boys Town celebrates 100 years of providing love and support to neglected children.

Many students come to our community because they have lived in a world without parental affection, without structure or boundaries. Many act out because they are bored and simply seeking attention; others have faced unthinkable abuse and neglect.

And while our overall mission of helping kids build happy, healthy and successful futures has stayed the same over these 100 years, the means by which we do that have changed with society.

Nowadays, a lot of kids are told their whole lives that they need to go to college and are made to feel inadequate when they don't have a shot. At Boys Town, many of the students grew up in environments where they never even had a voice telling them about college.

That's why classes teaching trades – like automotive, welding and electrician skills – are the perfect tools to capture the attention of otherwise distracted students while conveying some of life's most important responsibilities. Kids who used to spray paint in the streets can use their talents in a productive environment. As a more extreme example, I've seen kids who used to hotwire cars learn to fix an engine. We take their real-life experience and apply it toward a positive end.

New research has found that a college degree no longer guarantees a higher income. Trade school is seen as an increasingly viable option to fix the country's income gap, as well as an answer to the competitive challenges found in a world driven by artificial intelligence. 

When Father Flanagan started the school in 1917, places like Silicon Valley were still farm country. Today, they're growing and harvesting ideas. But the reality is that technology companies across the country – and the globe – do not have enough workers with hands-on experience turning ideas and drafts into reality.

What's more, companies need employees who not only have the technical capabilities but also have the "soft" skills of success: punctuality, work ethic, team-orientation and a positive attitude. Knowing a skill will help you land a job. But respect for others will help you keep it.

Trade classes help students uncover a talent they already have while demonstrating that they can have fun in school. Students have to work together to solve real-life, hands-on problems, not theoretical ones. Many of our students don't even realize that what they're doing – and enjoying – is a learning experience.

The lessons they learn spill over the class time – with kids behaving better outside of class so that they can participate in the class.

What's more, trades can actually help students in other classes where they may be struggling. I have a student who decided that math isn't for him, and yet can figure out all the angles in his head while building. That's called applied math.

Finally, students learn that there's an option to go to higher vocational education schools and that they can have a successful future, with or without a college degree. This option opens the eyes of many students and gives them opportunities they never even dreamed were possible.

Jim Clements is the Trade Instructor of Mechanics, Carpentry and Welding at Boys Town High School, Nebraska.

Ways-to-Work-Helps-Families-With-Transportation-and-Credit-ChallengesWays to Work Helps Families With Transportation and Credit ChallengesNebraska
Friday, Dec 1, 2017

​​This article is written by Debroah (Van Fleet) Newcombe. It was posted on kios.org on November 17, 2017.​

Ways to Work is a nationwide program designed to help people with credit challenges become more financially stable with small, low-interest loans. 

Virginia Ayers, Program Coordinator for Ways to Work-Boys Town, says in the Omaha-Council Bluffs area, the program is co-administered by Boys Town and Heartland Family Service. 

Ayers says the majority of their applicants need the loan money to purchase a car.  She says the program's lender is Pinnacle Bank, and the loan maximum is $8000 at 6% interest.   

"And when they find a car that is good on gas, low on repair costs, hasn't been in any accidents, not a salvage title, then we can move forward to have the vehicle inspected. So, I have the vehicles fully inspected; I do the research on-line to find out if it's a good vehicle, and if it is good, then we move forward with setting up a close with Pinnacle Bank."  

Ayers says being able to buy a car often enables people to move forward in their careers or accept a better job.

She says to qualify, applicants have to have meet certain income guidelines, have worked at least 20 hours a week for 6 months, have dependent children at home and have challenged credit. She says they also have to participate in a financial literacy class covering topics like budgeting and credit management.

For more information on Ways to Work-Boys Town, the number is 866-213-4239.​

knicely-done-heartland-family-service-honoreesKnicely Done: Heartland Family Service HonoreesNebraska
Wednesday, Nov 29, 2017

This article is written by John Knicely. It was posted on wowt.com on November 16, 2017.

Every year, the week before Thanksgiving, Heartland Family Service, recognizes members of our community who are quietly making a difference.

The annual Salute to Families was held on Thursday at Happy Hollow Country Club.

Sean and Anne Rich have faced challenges with their family. Their fourth child was born with Down syndrome, a hole in her heart and pulmonary hypertension. Today that little girl is healthy and happy.

Sean and Anne also adopted another daughter in 2015, who was born with gastroschisis. They were honored with the Challenged and Successful award.

Tony and Simone Jones have been employed at Boys Town for 20 years and have three biological children. Over the years they have worked with more than 200 children and families. They were honored with the Commitment to Family award.

The Community Service award was presented to Dr. Viv and John Ewing. John served on the Omaha Police Department and currently is the Douglas County Treasurer. Viv is the VP of Human Resources at Nebraska Families Collaborative. Their daughters,

Christina and Alexandra, also have extensive community service.

Scott and Karla Cassels were honored with the Leadership Family award. Together they have helped with many causes in the Omaha community. Some of the organizations they have contributed to included the Joslyn Museum, Heartland Family Service and Creighton Prep. Karla is also a board member of Friends Forever with the Nebraska Humane Society.

The Family Advocate award was presented to Penny Parker, Executive Director of Completely Kids. Penny has headed the organization for the last 25 years, focusing on children living in poverty and giving them hope.

Penny survived serious challenges from two strokes she suffered at age 25, one of which paralyzed her left side.

"You know it's interesting when you're 25 years old and you have a stroke that is totally unexpected," she said in an interview with WOWT 6 News.

Heartland Family Service with well deserved honors for members of our community.

Knicely Done!

decades-ago-the-movie-and-its-stars-captivated-locals-far-from-hollywoodDecades ago, ‘Boys Town’ — the movie and its stars — captivated locals far from HollywoodNebraska
Boys Town Movie Premiere!
Thursday, Oct 19, 2017

This article is written by Blake Ursch, World-Herald staff writer. It was posted on Omaha.com on October 18, 2017.

The movie stars arrived by train, flashing winning smiles for waiting photographers. Around them, thousands of adoring fans cheered.

It was a glitzy scene, straight out of the Golden Age of Hollywood. And here it was, happening in Nebraska.

On Sept. 6, 1938, more than 15,000 people packed Omaha's Union Station to watch the arrival of Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney, here for the premiere of their movie "Boys Town."

Now, almost 80 years later, the Durham Museum, housed in the former train station, is commemorating the premiere as part of its new exhibit "Let's Go to Town for Boys Town: 100 Years of Saving Children, Healing Families," which traces the history of Father Edward Flanagan's famous children's home.

The exhibit includes several items from Boys Town's Hall of History, some of which have never been seen by the public.

A weathered film canister, displayed in a glass box, is one. The canister once held a roll of nitrate film, an original print of the 1938 movie, said Thomas Lynch, director of community programs at Boys Town.

Since nitrate film has been known to be spontaneously combustible, the canister on display at the museum is empty. The film is housed safely at Boys Town.

"We didn't want to blow up the Durham Museum," Lynch joked.

The movie, which stars Tracy as Flanagan and Rooney as one of the priest's troubled residents, brought Boys Town world fame. It was a critical and commercial hit, earning Tracy an Academy Award for his performance.

And nowhere was it more celebrated than in Omaha.

The movie captivated the city during the summer of 1938. Film crews shot on location at the Boys Town campus and at Union Station over several days in June. When the film made its world premiere in Omaha in September, thousands turned out to greet the stars. The audience, the World-Herald reported, surpassed even those of past visits by presidents.

At the train station, the stars were escorted by a dozen Omaha police officers. They met with then-Mayor Dan Butler, along with the mayor and city council of Boys Town and the reigning queen of Aksarben. A banner billowed over the crowd: "Let's go to town for Boys Town." A replica now hangs in the Durham.

Actress Maureen O'Sullivan, who attended the premiere, said the greeting exceeded any she had ever experienced.

The following night, the film debuted at the Omaha Theater, on Douglas Street between 15th and 16th Streets. People clamored for a look at the stars, flooding the streets outside the theater and crowding nearby rooftops. A powerful searchlight, visible for miles, scanned the sky.

"This thing makes a Hollywood premiere look like a dying hog," Tracy reportedly said.

Flanagan received the strongest applause from the crowd, the newspaper reported. He thanked the city for turning out in droves and for making Boys Town possible in the first place.

The movie itself didn't disappoint either.

"We who know what Boys Town is and to whom the name Father Flanagan is not strange may be too close to the trees to see the forest," wrote one World-Herald film critic. "Then Hollywood discovers Boys Town, sees in it material for a picture, makes that picture and brings back to us something we have lived with and yet never known — the story of Boys Town."

After the movie's release, Lynch said, enrollment at Boys Town exploded. But, perhaps surprisingly, donations plummeted as audiences assumed the children's home received some share of the film's profits. Tracy, who gave his Oscar to Flanagan, wrote letters urging supporters to continue donating to Flanagan's cause. One such letter is on display at the museum.

Today, 79 years later, the film still generates publicity for the children's community, said Lauren Laferla, Boys Town spokeswoman. The film is often shown on television around Christmas, and it crops up in movie trivia, ensuring that the Boys Town name continues to spread.

The movie also still has a presence on campus, said Lynch. It is screened for new residents coming to live at Boys Town.

"We want to show them they're part of the history of Boys Town," Lynch said. "Being a resident, this is their heritage. It's like any family. You want to pass on your history to them."

"Let's Go To Town for Boys Town: 100 Years Of Saving Children, Healing Families"

Dates: Now through Jan. 21

Where: The Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday

Regular admission fees apply: $11 for adults, $8 seniors 62 and up, $7 children 3 to 12, children under 2 are free.

For more information: 402-444-5071 or info@durhammuseum.org.

durham-museum-will-display-100-year-history-itemsDurham Museum Will Display Items from Boys Town's 100-year History Through Jan. 21Nebraska
Copyright of Kent Sievers, The World-Herald
Friday, Oct 13, 2017

This article is written by Blake Ursch, World-Herald staff writer. It was posted on Omaha.com on October 13, 2017.

The black leather briefcase bears three letters: EJF.

Father Edward J. Flanagan used this bag to carry letters and documents when he traveled Europe and Asia, visiting impoverished children in the years following World War II.

The bag is one of several Boys Town artifacts on display at the Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St., as part of the museum's new exhibit "Let's Go To Town For Boys Town! 100 Years of Saving Children, Healing Families." The exhibit opens to the public Saturday and will be on display through Jan. 21.

The collection celebrates the upcoming 100th anniversary of the founding of Boys Town. On Dec. 12, 1917, Flanagan began his legendary children's home with five boys in the rundown Byron Reed Mansion at 25th and Dodge Streets.

Photographs and objects displayed at the Durham trace the story of Boys Town's rise. Visitors can see a stone from the original mansion, Flanagan's vestments and a flag, given to Flanagan by the City of Baltimore, commemorating the 800 former Boys Town residents who were killed in World War II.

The exhibit also includes an original poster and memorabilia from the 1938 film "Boys Town," starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney. The Durham hosted the world premiere of the film the year it was released, said Thomas Lynch, director of community programs at Boys Town.

"The movie is really special because it put Boys Town on the map," Lynch said.

Some of the items on display at the Durham, such as Flanagan's vestments, are usually packed away for safekeeping at the Boys Town Hall of History, Lynch said.

Jessica Brummer, spokeswoman for the Durham, said organizers are hoping the exhibit exposes Boys Town to an audience that may not have visited the campus on West Dodge Road.

The time of year is fortunate, she said: The museum is always busiest during the holiday season.

"Being able to have this on display for visitors during this time is wonderful," she said.

state-farms-generous-donation-aids-driving-education-for-boys-town-youthState Farm’s Generous Donation Aids Driving Education for Boys Town YouthNebraska
Wednesday, Oct 11, 2017

​State Farm's mission is to help people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams and on September 22, 2017, Boys Town staff and youth held a special ceremony to thank State Farm for helping future young drivers.

Before the first football was thrown for the game on Friday, the insurance company presented a check for $15,000 on the Boys Town football field. The donation that State Farm has given will go toward helping Boys Town provide driver's education to the youth. "Car crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for teenagers," said State Farm Public Affairs Specialist Kelly Pargett. "State Farm is proud to stand alongside Boys Town to change that narrative and to help in their mission of caring for children and families and making our communities safer."

Every year, approximately 75 Boys Town juniors and seniors take driver's education at Cornhusker Driving School. Through hard work and dedication, those who completed the course were all given certificates of successful completion. "We are very grateful for this generous grant from State Farm," said Father Steven Boes, Boys Town President and National Executive Director. "Boys Town students and all high school students can greatly benefit from safe driving skills."

Thanks again to State Farm for their generous donation to Boys Town. Our youth truly appreciate the opportunity to learn the skills they need to be safe drivers.

boys-town-trade-program-helps-students-see-their-futuresBoys Town Trade Program Helps Students See Their FuturesNebraska
Boys Town Trade Classes
Wednesday, Oct 11, 2017

This article is written by Michael Snow. It was posted on wowt.com on October 10, 2017.

A good career does not always require a 4-year college degree. Boys Town educators know that. They say the key to a secure future could be in trade.

For some students like Teshar Roque, college is not always the best option – or even possible.

"I'm much a hands-on learner. I don't like to be in text books too much," he said.

Trading in textbooks for a set of tools could be the path to a successful career.

Boys Town says learning a trade will get Teshar and others on the right path.

"We're teaching them a career skill so when they leave hear they are able to feed their families and live in the kind of home they want to live in. Where they want to live in. We are enabling them to have a life," said trades teacher Jim Clements.

Teshar is in the small engine class. Right now, he's working on building a Go Cart from scratch.

"So what Mr. Clements does for us is we spend 10 or 15 minutes talking about our projects and how much time we have to clean up the shop. Then we come out and the sky is the limit," he said.

One of the most popular classes is the automotive class where students are taking an old car apart and then rebuilding it.

"I'm doing something that some people don't even get the opportunity to do. Some schools don't even have this type of stuff," said student Ty Jones.

"I'm not someone who didn't have their future planned out and this is something that has given me a clear path to take," Teshar told 6 News.

Boys Town is looking to add more programs including a culinary arts program as soon as next year.

This is the third year of the trade programs. Boys Town is working with shops around Omaha to set up students with internships and jobs directly out of high school.

boys-town-nebraska-collects-large-donation-for-foster-family-servicesBoys Town Nebraska Collects Large Donation for Foster Family ServicesNebraska
Foster Care Donation
Friday, Sep 29, 2017

​On September 12, 2017, Matthew Priest, Director Boys Town Nebraska Foster Family Services, met with Kid to Kid store owner Jerry VanWagoner to accept a generous donation of 3,000 items.

The items that were collected consisted mostly of clothes from newborn to school age, which will be placed in the program's Foster Care Closet for families and children to use. "The Foster Care Closet is a space full of free items for Boys Town Foster Parents to utilize for the children in their care, "said Priest. "Not only does this help children who often come into care with minimal belongings, but foster parents appreciate the Foster Care Closet as one of the many supports unique to Boys Town Foster Family Services."

While this is the first time Boys Town Nebraska Foster Family Services has worked with Kid to Kid, the program is always receiving support and contributions from the community through other stores, individuals, and work projects. A wide range of items have been accepted in order to provide comfort for the children, ranging from blankets to photo albums.

"These items are given to children to call their own and can help with the transition to and from foster care, "Priest said.

Boys Town Nebraska Foster Family Services serves about 260 children per year and currently works with 90 foster homes. The program helps provide the necessary care that kids of all ages need in order to have a happy and healthy life. Every donation makes a difference and Kid to Kid made a tremendous impact for both children and foster families.

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 cathstan.org 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 Omaha.com 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.

Save the Date for the 7th annual Blue Water Bash on Saturday, July 28th, 2018!

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

This article is written by Ben Stevens. It was posted on 3newsnow.com 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 omaha.com 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
Hotline
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.

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