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boys-town-a-beacon-of-hope-for-troubled-youthBoys Town: A Beacon of Hope for Troubled YouthNew York
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-leverages-strategic-partnership-to-provide-warm-clothingBoys Town Leverages Strategic Partnership to Provide Warm ClothingNew York
Wednesday, Dec 7, 2016

​​Boys Town New York began its partnership with Good360 in 2013 to provide warm clothing to underprivileged children and families in the Brooklyn community. Good360 provides in-kind donations from companies to nonprofit organizations. One of the local Good360 partners is Gap Inc.

Recently, Boys Town received more than 150 boxes of clothing and apparel from ​Gap Inc. Because the Brooklyn event has received such a positive response over the years, Boys Town New York used this additional donation to have a second clothing giveaway to benefit the East Harlem community. As a result, more than 230 local residents received winter clothing and apparel, as well as information on local resources.  

"These types of donations allow our staff to cultivate relationships within the community and strategically target the low income areas with the greatest needs" said James Hill, Boys Town New York Development Director.

community-outreach-partnering-with-innovation-high-schoolCommunity Outreach In Harlem: Partnering with Innovation High SchoolNew York
Tuesday, Dec 6, 2016

​​​​​Tesharr's failing grades concerned his teachers about what may be going on at home.

Tesharr struggled to communicate his needs to his adoptive mother in his single parent home and the issues between his mother and him led to a poor school attitude, apathy in class and poor relationships with others. Coupled with Tesharr's mental health issues, he was frequently in an out of the hospital which exacerbated an already unstable environment. he issues between his adoptive mom and Tesharr led to a poor attitude at school, apathy in class, and poor relationships with others. Tesharr has a history of

As part of the partnership between Boys Town New York and Innovation High School, Tesharr was paired with Pius, a Boys Town New Y​ork Care Coordinator.  Pius worked to provided Boys Town New York family coaching and support for Tesharr and his mother to address concerns regarding his failing grades, as well as their relationship with each other. It was clear from the start of their meetings that mom was feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope with Tesharr's negative behavior.

Over the course of the program, Pius worked with Tesharr, his mother and his teachers to implement additional structure, both in the home as well as at school.  They worked on giving and receiving feedback, such as Tesharr learning to accept the word "no," setting appropriate boundaries in order to build positive meaningful relationships with others, and how to communicate effectively in the home, at school and in the community.

With this positive influence, Tesharr's began to turn his grades around and his teachers saw a noticeable change in his attitude. Despite missing a considerable amount of school, Tesharr was able to make a turnaround. He passed five of seven classes, and was able to make up the two failing classes this past summer. 

Thanks to your support, more students like Tesharr are receiving the support ​they need but inside and outside the classroom to be successful.

richmond-hill-youth-writes-touching-thank-you-letterRichmond Hill Youth Writes Touching Thank You LetterNew York
Tuesday, Dec 6, 2016

​​​​​​​After completing the program, Adreanna wrote a ​​​touching letter ​thanking ​Boys Town ​New York ​staff for ​​believing in her.

Read her full letter below.

Dear Ms Star, Dear Ms Corrin, Dear Ms Ashley, Dear Ms Vanessa, Dear Ms Shariva, Dear Ms Michelle,

Day by day im growing... 

​Ight so boom, I really kant believe that im leaving 2morrow. Im not ready to leave but im ready to move on to the next step to get me home. These extra days that ive had, im thank full for. It prepared me for 2morrow. Looking bakk at my stay with ya... lol we really went thru alot. You guys really had patience with me and i thank you for that. Forreal. Alot of people give up on me bekuz of my attitude and the way that i say certain things but you guys didnt. When i first walked thru that door i was out of kontrol. I spit on Ms Star, kursed out Ms Vanessa, never liked Ms Shariva, & Had my attitude moments with Ms Ashley. Its alot more but im writing to you guys in this letter. You guys took time to teach me when nobody else in the house new how to deal with me. You all have heard some and parts of my story and understood where i kame from. You all felt like my family and Richmond Hill kouldnt give me anything more. It feels good to know that ya really kared from the heart and kept on karing even when i was at my worst. Richmond Hill staff helped me change and realize that i kant keep going down the​ road i was going down. Im not going to say that i changed over night bekuz i didnt but ya helped me get thru and start the process. lol From breaking 3 phones, a popcorn machine, flipping chairs, and kursing staff out everyday to learning how to kontrol my anger, talk with someone, and now accepting change. I ​did it but ya made it happen. Thank you. I ​promise that I won't forget about you guys and I'll be kalling and visiting. So expect to hear from me from time to time. I will forever be your child.

Thanks for your love, your patience, and your open arms. I love you. Dont forget about me!

P.S. Tell my peer Keisy I said BLTTT!

Sincerly your child 4Ever
-Andreanna Janey Merice

I'll love Richmond 4 Ever.




See the original letter below.

 

a-winter-soireeA Winter SoireeNew York
Tuesday, Dec 6, 2016

​​More than 230 people attended Boys Town New York's annual Winter Soiree December 1, 2016 at the Manhattan penthouse of host, Joe Ricketts, at the Mandrian Oriental. More than $60,000 was raised to support the children and families served by Boys Town New York.

During the evening, two youth stood before the crowd and bravely shared their touching stories of what life was like before and after Boys Town came into their lives. Following their moving shares, two awards were presented during the evening to community members. Mike Campana was awarded the Boys Town New York 2016 Ambassador of the Year Award and Emem Offong was recognized as the Volunteer of the Year.

During his acceptance speech, Campana shared, "What brought me to Boys Town in the first place and continues to keep me engaged is the measureable positive impact our organization has on the lives of children and families both in our immediate area and across the nation." He also added, "Evident by our sold out Winter Soiree, you can really feel momentum starting to build around Boys Town New York, which I am excited to carry into our centennial year."

Emem expressed the reason for her volunteerism, "I like being involved in an organization committed to teaching and showing kids how to make better decisions. An organization that encourages and reminds kids that despite their current circumstances, they can still go on to achieve their dreams using the tools they've learned at Boys Town."

We hope you'll be able to join us for another wonderful event next year as Boys Town celebrates its 100th anniversary. ​​

9th-Annual-Golf-and-Tennis-Classic-Raises-Record-Breaking-Amount9th Annual Golf and Tennis Classic Raises Record Breaking AmountNew York
Friday, Oct 14, 2016

​​​Boys Town New York held their 9th Annual Golf and Tennis Classic on Monday, September 12, 2016 at Knollwood Country Club in Elmsford, New York. Headed by committee chairs Guy Cleveland and Alan Kensek, the event sold out for the second year in a row and was the most profitable event Boys Town New York has ever hosted. The total amount raised netted over $135,000 and will go to support Boys Town New York's programs and services throughout the community.

A large turnout of around 130 guests enjoyed the Golf and Tennis Classic's festivities. A total of 29 groups of four competed in the golf scramble while eight tennis players battled it out in the tennis tournament.

"We couldn't have asked for better weather and a better group of supporters!" Morgan Gorospe, Tennis Tournament Committee Representative said.

Guests were able to relax at the Knollwood Country Club house following the golf and tennis tournaments. Dinner was provided by the Country Club while the auction portion of the event was lead by retired NFL JETS Player, Ray Lucas. He auctioned off items ranging from tickets to a Broadway performance, to sports memorabilia and golf club packages for the country club, including other smaller prizes for golf and tennis enthusiasts.

Following the auction, a few Boys Town New York youth presented their personal stories to the audience. The boys explained their backgrounds and shared how coming to Boys Town has affected their lives in such a positive way and helped them learn to believe in themselves.

"We couldn't be more proud of our presenting youth," said Jessica Wiley, Boys Town New York Development Coordinator. "They shared a common path of misguidance directed from their peers who lead them down a road of crime and violence. Their determination in our Intervention and Assessments program and their willingness to accept that negative behaviors have consequences allowed them to mature as young men."

Boys Town New York is already planning and looking forward to their 10th Annual Golf and Tennis Classic in the fall of 2017.

Boys Town extends a thank you to this year's supporters:

  • Platinum Maintenance Services Corp Empire Sponsor $15,000​
  • Litespeed Electric, Inc. Empire Sponsor $15,000​
  • Premier Metal & Marble Empire Sponsor $15,000​
  • Modworxx Caddy Sponsor $5,000​
  • Gensler Caddy Sponsor $5,000​
  • Sound Air Conditioning Caddy Sponsor $5,000​
  • ARI Access Floors Caddy Sponsor $5,000​
  • Firecom, Inc. Dinner Sponsor $4,500​
  • Syska Hennesy Group, Inc. Dinner Sponsor $4,500​
  • Jonathan Metal & Glass Dinner Sponsor $4,500​
  • EuroTech Construction Dinner Sponsor $4,500​
  • Theodore Williams Construction Company, LLC Supporting ​Sponsor $4,000​
  • Enterprise Rebirth Advisory Jet Blue Challenge Sponsor $4,000​
 
boys-town-new-york-youth-tour-college-campusBoys Town New York Youth Tour College CampusNew York
Friday, Sep 9, 2016

​​Education is one of the most effective agents to ​transform lives and instill promise, motivation and hope. This is why Boys Town New York seeks to immerse our youth in programs and opportunities that help highlight how far a commitment to school - and themselves - can take them, as four special boys recently discovered on a trip to Washington DC.

For Boys Town New York youth, the trip was a rare chance to leave the confines of New York City. On their campus tour of storied Howard University, the experience was a chance for the boys to envision life as a college student and see the power of education as a means to better oneself. Boys Town youth, Henry, said he could picture himself at Howard University in a couple of years following the tour, while another youth, Andrew, began contemplating pledging an academic fraternity. More than just a vow, Boys Town sees these proclamations as obligations towards a better life and a personal promise that they will be the ones to break a cycle of poverty and displacement.

To further support these dreams, please consider making a donation to ​Boys Town New York today!

youth-profileYouth ProfileNew York
Victor holding his award
Friday, Sep 9, 2016

​​Vincent is a 15-year-old ​10th grader from Bronx, NY. He recently participated in a writing competition where students were asked to compare and contrast two preselected poems in an essay.  Vincent won the competition and shared his experience with a staff member, James Hill.

James: First off, how'd you come to Boys Town?

Vincent: The reason I was sent to Boys Town is because of my anger issue.  Someone had stolen my phone and I broke something, because I was mad, but I’m getting better at controlling my temper since I’ve been here.

James: What were the poems about?
 
Vincent: Poem one was about a mother and son’s relationship and poem two was about dreams; same writer, different poems. The Mother and Son poem talked about how the mother doesn’t want her son to give up on his life and follow her same path. She had a lot happen to her, but she didn’t want the same to happen to her son. The second poem talked about if you don’t have a dream, you won’t make it. You have to follow your dreams and they will come true.

James: How'd it feel to win?

Vincent: Winning the competition made me feel wonderful. I really liked winning something. People in the school like me. I don’t play around when it comes to school.

James: As the winner of the writing competition, I heard you received a ticket to see the Broadway show, Finding Neverland. How was that?   

Vincent: I've never been to a Broadway show, but the ticket was $90, so I didn’t want to turn it down. It was awesome! The show was real. This guy came right up to me and said ‘HI,’ it scared me! I wasn’t expecting it; he was dressed up like a pirate. It was good though.  

James: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Vincent: When I grow up I want to play football for the Philadelphia Eagles as either a line-backer and wide receiver. But if I don’t get a contract with the NFL, I’ll probably go to the marines, or write a book.

James: How do you like living at Boys Town New York?

Vincent: I like it; it’s keeping me out of trouble, and the point system is very good. I love to read. The library is one of my favorite places.  I can’t go to sleep without reading. I don’t have a favorite book, but the books that interest me are ones that are about real life, like Malcolm X, but I also like comic books.

back-to-school-tips-and-tricks-to-start-the-year-rightBack to School: Tips and Tricks to Start the Year RightNew York
Friday, Sep 2, 2016

​​By Amanda Setlak, Ph.D., ​Boys Town

The end of summer vacation usually brings groans from children and parents alike, though for different reasons.

For kids, the end of summer means getting back into the swing of learning and sitting in the classroom. For parents, it’s getting kids back on a morning, bedtime and school routine, and juggling hectic schedules.

Boys Town is here to help get learning on track for families:

  • Grandma’s rule. Grandma’s rule refers to the general stance of eating your peas before receiving dessert. The rule doesn’t just apply to food; it can be widely applied to desired objects or activities. For example, access to any electronics should be withheld until the morning routine is complete.
  • Wake-times and bedtimes. Keep a consistent wake-time, even on weekends, and refrain from naps for school-age children. If your child is having a hard time falling asleep at the target bedtime, push back the time to within 30 minutes of when they’re likely to fall asleep and then gradually adjust it to be closer to the expected time.
  • Morning routine expectations. If your child struggles with organization or attention difficulties, mornings can be especially difficult. First go through a few dry runs and identify where struggles occur. Then put a system in place to help motivate your child during the morning routine, using techniques such as grandma’s rule, visual schedules and rewards. Always try to avoid rationales, such as an important meeting that you can’t miss, because this will often increase frustration or grumpiness. Give yourself enough time to get ready, bring out your positive vibes and keep your cool!
  • Homework routine. Your child may not have much homework at the beginning of the school year, but it is still important to establish a homework routine that fits with your family’s schedule. Generally, kids are more successful with homework completion shortly after school. The later homework is started, the more likelihood your child will demonstrate frustration, lack of motivation or behavior problems. Determine what time homework will be started, remove distractions and ensure a quiet work area with access to necessary study materials. Treat homework similar to a sporting event by cheering for accomplishments and offering support and encouragement when difficulties arise.
  • School participation. Researchers have consistently found that when parents are active participants in their child’s school activities, academic performance improves. The most effective approach to partnering with your child’s school and teacher(s) is to be involved from the beginning. If your work schedule does not allow for participation during school hours, there are other ways to be involved, such as e-mails to the teacher and a notebook for back-and-forth communication to ensure that schoolwork is completed and returned. Try to meet with the teacher at the beginning of the year so that the teacher knows who you are. Also try to have as many positive interactions as possible, as communicating only about concerns can hamper the parent-teacher relationship.
  • Learning concerns. If your child is struggling at school, don’t wait for the teacher to contact you. Taking the initiative to address concerns is another way to be actively involved in your child’s schooling. Notice what they are doing well and any areas where they seem to struggle. Learning difficulties are often embarrassing for kids, and they may act out to avoid tasks that are difficult. Whenever there is an increase in behavior surrounding schoolwork, be sure not to overlook learning problems. At the first sign of concerns, check in with your child’s teacher(s) and inquire about additional support or services available at school.
     
united-states-mint-unveils-designs-for-boys-town-centennial-commemorative-coinsUnited States Mint Unveils Designs for Boys Town Centennial Commemorative CoinsCalifornia, New York
Wednesday, Aug 24, 2016

​​​This press release was published on usmint.gov August 23, 2016.

Designs for coins commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of Boys Town were unveiled today during a ceremony at Boys Town Music Hall in Boys Town, Neb.

"Each time a person looks at any one of these unique designs, it will spark an interest in learning about the history of Boys Town, acknowledging the extraordinary efforts made by this ​organization to give comfort and purpose to children in need, and recognizing the significant contributions of Father Flanagan," said United States Mint Principal Deputy Director Rhett Jeppson.

Jeppson was joined by Boys Town​ representatives Cordell Cade and Kymani Bell, mayor and vice mayor, respectively; Dan Daly, Executive Vice President, Director of Youth Care; and Jerry Davis, Vice President of Advocacy.

Public Law 114-30 authorizes the Mint to mint and issue no more than 50,000 $5 gold, 350,000 $1 silver, and 300,000 half dollar clad coins with designs emblematic of the centennial of Boys Town. 

The gold coin obverse (heads) features a portrait of Father Flanagan.  Inscriptions include "BOYS TOWN CENTENNIAL," "IN GOD WE TRUST," "FR. EDWARD FLANAGAN," "LIBERTY," and "2017."  The obverse was designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Designer Donna Weaver and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart.

The gold coin reverse (tails) features an outstretched hand holding a young oak tree growing from an acorn.  As ​stated in the idiom "Mighty oaks from little acorns grow," this design represents the potential of each child helped by Boys Town to grow into a productive, complete adult.  Inscriptions include "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "THE WORK WILL CONTINUE," "FIVE DOLLARS," and "E PLURIBUS UNUM."  The reverse was also designed by Weaver and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Jim Licaretz.

The silver $1 coin obverse features a young girl sitting alone and gazing upward into the branches of an oak tree looking for help.  The empty space around the girl is deliberate and meant to show the child's sense of loneliness, isolation, and helplessness.  Inscriptions include "BOYS TOWN," "When you help a child today...," "IN GOD WE TRUST," "LIBERTY," and "1917-2017."

The obverse was designed by AIP Designer Emily Damstra and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna. 

The coin's reverse features an oak tree offering shelter and a sense of belonging to the family holding hands below it, which includes the girl from the obverse.  Inscriptions include "...you write the history of tomorrow," "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "ONE DOLLAR," and "E PLURIBUS UNUM."  The reverse was also designed by Damstra and sculpted by Menna.

The clad half dollar obverse features an older brother holding the hand of his younger brother in 1917.  They walk toward Father Flanagan's Boys Home and the 1940s pylon representing what would become Boys Town.  Inscriptions include "BOYS TOWN," "1917," "2017," "IN GOD WE TRUST," "LIBERTY," and "Saving Children."  The obverse was designed by AIP Designer Chris Costello and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Renata Gordon.

The coin's reverse features a present-day Boys Town neighborhood of homes where children are schooled and nurtured by caring families.  Out of these homes come young adults who graduate from high school and the Boys Town program.  Inscriptions include "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "E PLURIBUS UNUM," "Healing Families," and "HALF DOLLAR."  The reverse was also designed by Costello and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill.

Pricing for the Boys Town Centennial Commemorative Coins will include surcharges-$35 for each $5 gold coin, $10 for each $1 silver coin, and $5 for each half dollar clad coin-which are authorized to be paid to Boys Town to carry out its cause of caring for and assisting children and families in underserved communities across America.

The Mint will announce the release date and additional pricing information for the Boys Town Centennial Commemorative Coins prior to their release in 2017.

 
new-york-ironman-golf-a-thon-raises-28000New York Ironman Golf-A-Thon Raises $28,000New York
Tuesday, Jun 28, 2016

​​On June 13, 2016, Boys Town New York hosted their first Ironman Golf-A-Thon at Ramsey Golf and Country Club. A total of ten golfers kicked off the morning at 7 a.m. with the determination of golfing 100 holes in a single day. Members of the community were encouraged to sponsor a golfer for each hole in the hopes of raising $2500 per participant. By the end of the event, the Ironman Golf-A-Thon raised over $28,000, with half the golfers completing an unprecedented 120 holes!

Ironman participants helped support the mission and raise awareness of Boys Town New York’s programs and services by motivating family, friends and coworkers to donate. Through personally reaching out and by using social media platforms, golfers were able to spread the word about the Golf-A-Thon and get as many sponsors per hole as possible.

The Ironman Golf-A-Thon is a unique event, and while the participants were considered regular golfers, the 100-hole goal proved to be a tough task. Halfway through, golfers were offered a massage from a licensed massage therapist to keep the game going and reward their hard work.

The event wouldn’t have been such a success without the Golf-A-Thon’s “Ironman” Michael Campana. A member of the Board of Directors at Boys Town New York, Michael Campana earned the title of Ironman due to his outstanding fundraising abilities. His dedication to Boys Town showed through his efforts to recruit golfers to play and through his encouragement to donate which resulted in him being the top fundraiser, earning him the coveted Green Jacket.

Boys Town New York plans to hold this event next year for the second time due to its success. The golfers from this year are already planning on preparing and training for the 2017 Ironman Golf-A-Thon.

boys-town-alum-reaches-back-to-reach-out-as-advocate-for-troubled-youthBoys Town Alum Reaches Back to Reach Out as Advocate for Troubled YouthNew York
Jim St. Germain was a speaker on the school-to-prison pipeline at the White House.
Thursday, May 26, 2016

​​​​From a booking cell to ​writing a book, Jim St. Germain is a man who has gone far beyond turning his life around.

Today, the 27-year-old community leader draws on his personal journey and experiences at Boys Town to advocate, locally and nationally, for services troubled children and families need.

For Jim, it still seems like a lifetime ago when he spent his days running the streets and running afoul with the law in his native Haiti. Born with the deck stacked against him, Jim eventually moved to the United States with his family, hoping for a life like the one he had seen in the movie “Home Alone.”

But while there was a home, he was never alone. Sixteen other family members living in a three-bedroom apartment in Crown Heights awaited Jim when he arrived in New York. It wasn’t long before old habits kicked in and he soon found himself in handcuffs more than a dozen times.

A turning point came as Jim awaited sentencing on a felony drug charge. His lawyers, recognizing the teen’s potential, asked that he be placed in a Boys Town New York Family Home where he could receive the structure he so desperately needed.

It was here that he started on his path to success, though Jim admits that at the time, he did everything possible to resist.

“It was like a sick person rejecting vital medication,” he said. “I was coming from an environment where I was used to doing whatever I wanted. Now, I came to a program with rules. That was a big struggle.”

Despite some setbacks, Jim eventually thrived in Boys Town’s environment of constructive constraints and self-enrichment. His Family-Teachers®, Iza and Damon Canada, taught him about the value of hard work and the importance of getting a college degree, a concept that was foreign to a boy who had never even heard the world “college” before he was 17.
After receiving his GED, Jim continued his education, earning an associate’s degree in human services and a bachelor’s degree in political science.

Those accomplishments led him to his ultimate goal of giving back to Boys Town. In 2011, Jim was hired as a Youth Care Worker at Boys Town New York.

“I was there three years, and it was very rewarding and extremely special,” Jim fondly remembers.

Looking to make an impact beyond his local community, Jim was able to take two giant steps forward. At the same time he was transitioning into his current role as a Residential Care Advocate within the juvenile justice department, he also was talking with his former attorneys and current friends about creating a nonprofit organization.

In 2012, Jim launched PLOT – Preparing Leaders of Tomorrow – a 501(c3) organization with the mission of mentoring kids like him, starting when they are young.  After three years of building the organization’s infrastructure and outreach, PLOT began working with its first cohort of ten kids, five of whom had been incarcerated.

Jim’s ongoing advocacy efforts have garnered praise from many esteemed circles, as well as extensive media coverage and requests to share his expertise. In particular, Jim points to Governor Cuomo’s “Raise the Age” campaign as a policy that benefits the incarcerated youth toward whom Jim has directed his passion and skills. 

Jim’s biggest career highlight so far has been being asked to provide his valuable, personal perspective to President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” Alliance. Jim said the opportunity to help his personal hero on a shared mission was beyond uplifting.

But Jim is not content to let a collaboration with the President be the peak of his efforts to reach out and help others.  He has reached a publishing deal with Harper Collins to tell his story in a memoir, tentatively titled “Bending Towards Justice” and set for release in early 2017. He also is focusing his considerable energies on earning a master’s degree in public administration and building a school in Haiti.

Even with all the potential that lies before him, Jim has never forgotten where he started his journey of success.

“Boys Town played a major role in the person that I am today,” Jim said. “I am forever grateful for everything they helped me accomplish.”

boys-town-new-york-hosts-third-annual-vintage-chicBoys Town New York Hosts Third Annual Vintage ChicNew York
Monday, May 23, 2016

On April 21, 2016, Boys ​Town New York hosted its third annual Vintage Chic clothing giveaway at Brooklyn Restoration Plaza. This fun event gives community members an opportunity to have a unique shopping experience, without the stress or worry of money. Hosted by Boys Town New York’s In-Home Family ServicesSM program, 194 families and more than 450 people in need received free clothing.

For many years, GAP, Inc., has partnered with Boys Town New York, donating all of the clothing for the event. More than 50 boxes of clothing, totaling about $25,000, were on display for the community members and Boys Town families to choose from.

“This has been a really amazing partnership between Boys Town and GAP,” said Jasmin Singleton, Director, In-Home Family Services. “Families and community members look forward to these events each year.”

Thank you to GAP, Inc., for supporting this great event and bringing this opportunity to children and families served by Boys Town New York.

boys-town-new-york-helps-immigrant-family-overcome-obstaclesBoys Town New York Helps Immigrant Family Overcome ObstaclesNew York
Monday, Apr 4, 2016

When Boys Town agrees to work ​with a family, it’s understood that they may be under a great deal of personal stress. They may even be facing issues that most of us can hardly imagine. That was the case with the Sonogo family, who had immigrated from the Ivory Coast of Africa to New York with four children under the age of 16. Soon after, Awa Sonogo became pregnant with their fifth.

The pressures of finding your way in a new country with limited means are stressful enough on their own. In addition, the Sonogos were dealing with the fact that their oldest son Abdulaye had become involved with dangerous gang violence. At just 15, he seemed to be heading down a dark path. Awa was terrified.

Struggling to meet the challenges of the situation, Awa’s relationship with her other children had begun to suffer. She wanted to be a better role model for her family, and in order to do that, she needed to learn strategies for dealing with her difficult situation. Thankfully, Boys Town knew just what to do.

Kara-Beth Kimble, Care Coordinator Services Consultant, soon became intimately aware of the issues this family was facing. She was eager to help and says that Awa was eager to learn: “She was dealing with a lot, but she was very open, very active.”

Kara started by helping Awa set appropriate boundaries and use consequences in a positive way with her children. She then worked with the family to brainstorm solutions for Abdulaye’s behavior. Together, they made the difficult decision to send Abdulaye back to Africa for the time being to live with Awa’s brother. “It was a last resort for her,” says Kara, “but it was a weight lifted.” Awa knew that her son would be able to live in a safer community with more adult supervision in their home country.

Abdulaye returned to Africa in July. Kara has spoken with him multiple times since then, and says he is doing well: “At first he was upset, but he understood after being there that this was the best thing for him. He’s taking it as a second chance. It’s a big deal for him.”

His family is doing what they can to help him from afar, and his goal is to show them in time that he has matured enough to return to the United States. For now, the family has seen improvements in the behavior of all of the children, and Awa has a much better handle on her stress. “She’s met all of her goals as of right now,” reports Kara proudly.

Families like the Sonogos are reminders that with perseverance and a helping hand, great obstacles can be overcome.

unpacking-their-unwanted-baggageUnpacking Their Unwanted BaggageNew York
Tuesday, Mar 1, 2016

The suitcases they carry their clothes in are the not the only baggage young people bring with them to a Boys Town New York. Each youth comes to us with the behavioral and emotional burdens of their past experiences. For most, these experiences include trouble with the law, which leads to removal from their homes and families and placed in our program by the Association for Children Services through the juvenile justice system. 

Fourteen-year-old Marie arrived at our girls’ home in Queens in early December 2015. She entered the program after getting into a fight, which violated her probation for a prior altercation. Despite her history of aggression, Marie was viewed by her peers as a fair, respectful, well-mannered and likeable girl. 

Initially, staff members saw that Marie had trouble maintaining personal boundaries, causing uneasiness among the other youth in the home. She also was aggressive and quick to argue. 

After three months in the program, Marie has shown tremendous improvement. She has developed positive relationships with both staff member and other youth, and continues to work on her self-monitoring skills and coping strategies in order to control her short fuse.  Marie also is excelling in school, and has earned the highest level of privileges in the home for almost two consecutive weeks. 

Due to her behavior, Marie fears her family doesn’t want her to return home. She will remain in our program while she awaits placement in a non-secure residential setting for juvenile offenders.  Marie says, “I’m grateful for Boys Town. They’ve taught me that family is important and that family works better together as a unit.”

Through it all, Marie has maintained a positive outlook for her future. She has dreams of one day working in the field of radiology so she can help others, like the radiologist who helped her father get through a severe heart condition when she was a little girl.

Many of the youth in our care are like Marie. They have been abandoned, abused, or neglected, and suffer from a number of emotional and behavioral problems. At Boys Town New York, we provide children with a safe environment where we assess their needs and begin to work toward family reunification.

Hundreds of youngsters, ages 10 to 18, from all five boroughs of New York City, find help each year through these services, and none of this would be possible without donors like you.

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

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