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Boys Town in the News

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Kara Neuverth
Media Relations Director

Lauren Laferla
Media Relations Specialist
Twitter: @LaurenLaferla

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News From Across the United States

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boys-town-iowa-in-home-family-services-supervisor-heads-to-central-florida-to-assistBoys Town Iowa In-Home Family Services Supervisor Heads to Central Florida to AssistCentral Florida
Monday, Aug 15, 2016

At the end of June, Keely Heitland, Sioux City’s In-Home Family Services Supervisor, traveled to Central Florida to assist the site’s In-Home Family Services (IHFS) program while their supervisor, Erica Vagle, is on maternity leave.

“I was excited to volunteer,” Heitland said. “I was intrigued by the idea to observe another site and how they deliver IHFS using the Boys Town Model."

While in Florida, Heitland has a similar role as she does in Iowa. She is supervising four consultants, providing consultation and support, as well as attending intakes and visits for observations to ensure quality services are provided.

“One of the things we say about using evidence-based practices is that our model should be replicable, which means that whether you are in Iowa or Central Florida, we should be using the same interventions and strategies and our hallmarks and model elements should be clearly consistent across the services we offer,” Bethany Lacey, Director, In-Home Family Services, Boys Town Central Florida, said.

”Having someone like Keely step in temporarily to fill our need has been a huge asset,” Lacey said. “She may not be familiar with all nuances of Central Florida, but she knows the model and she knows families and staff. A family in need is a family in need no matter where they live.” 

It has long been common practice for Boys Town to share staff between Family Home and Intervention and Assessment Centers.

“If one site is low on staff, it often happens that another site will send staff to help out,” Lacey said.

However, it isn’t as common for In-Home Family Services. Lacey’s hope is that what they’ve accomplished can be replicated and that other sites can use the lessons they’ve learned on how to organize such an experience.

Heitland also attends internal and external meetings in Vagle’s place, which “has allowed me to learn about other programs to assist Iowa in developing their site.”

Central Florida has a smaller IHFS program but offers more services within the continuum of care. The biggest difference Heitland has encountered is the “application of [the in-home services]” and how it “takes in consideration the many different consumers, grants and contractors” the site is working with.

“Florida’s programs are more preventative versus reactive,” she said, citing an example of working with families before they are court involved. “Florida also has the ability to provide multiple services within the Boys Town continuum and does well linking them.”

“I have enjoyed further learning about and observing the services within the continuum and hope to bring this knowledge back to Iowa to assist us in further grants and contracts,” she said.

texas-holds-book-fair-for-boys-town-youthTexas Holds Book Fair for Boys Town YouthTexas
Friday, Aug 12, 2016

On July 13, Boys Town Texas hosted a book fair where 65 youth from Foster Care, In-Home Family Services and Common Sense Parenting® classes were each able to take home four books, one toy and one backpack. There were even Girl Scout Cookies for everyone to enjoy.

“They were really grateful,” Alexa Padalecki, Donor Relations Specialist, said. “I think we take for granted how much joy a book can bring. [Boys Town youth] don’t necessarily have the opportunity [to read on an iPad] or go to Barnes and Noble and pick out a new book.”

SAReads, a project of Literacy San Antonio, Inc,. whose goal is to significantly increase literacy and education attainment, donated over 100 books to Boys Town Texas. Those donations and the donations from other community members over the past year made the second annual book fair possible.

“Especially in the summer, it’s important for the youth to keep reading,” Padalecki said. “I think it’s important to instill a love of learning and reading and discovery at a young age.”

To add to the excitement, the fair was paired with the donations Boys Town Texas received from KENS 5 Sports Anchor, Vinnie Vinzetta. At the end of June, Vinzetta celebrated his birthday week by doing a random act of kindness each day. One of his random acts was donating brand​​ new toys to Boys Town.

The youth who attended the book fair were able to choose from a wide variety of summer toys, such as Slip ‘N Slides, giant bubbles makers, basketballs, footballs and more.

Thanks again to Literacy San Antonio, Inc., and Vinnie ​Vinzetta for your generous donations!

Read more about how to make learning fun during the summer on Boys Town’s Teachable Moments blog.

boys-town-welcomes-new-director-of-central-nebraska-operationsBoys Town Welcomes New Director of Central Nebraska OperationsCentral Nebraska
Outgoing Director of Central Nebraska Operations Dave Reed (right) stands next to his successor, Megan Andrews.
Friday, Aug 12, 2016

This article is written by Robert Pore. It was posted August 11, 2016 on

An open house took place on Thursday at Boys Town Grand Island to welcome the new director of Central Nebraska operations, Megan Andrews.

Andrews holds a master of science in youth and family services from Bellevue University. She began her career with Boys Town as a youth care worker in Grand Island in 2007 and was promoted to Intervention and Assessment Services Supervisor in 2009.

“I am eager to continue to help Central Nebraska families and children gain access to our important programs and fulfill this need in our community,” Andrews said.

Andrews launched the In-Home Family Services program in 2013. Under her direction, it grew from two staff members to 15 with offices across Central Nebraska.

As director of Central Nebraska operations, Andrews will oversee programs and offices in Grand Island, Kearney, Columbus, Duncan and North Platte. She takes over from Dave Reed, who held the position for nearly 20 years and will now serve as Senior Director for Family Services for Nebraska/Iowa.

“This promotion will allow me the opportunity to help Boys Town take care of more children and families over a wider area,” Reed said.

Reed said he will still work in the Central Nebraska area.

“What I will remember the most is that there is always something new going on here every day, so you never know what is going to happen here,” he said. “We had a lot of successes here and have been able to help a lot of children and families.”

When he started at the Boys Town facility in Grand Island, it provided mostly residential care. Now, Reed said, more than 75 percent of the children are served in their home or the community.

Last year, they served 821 children in Central Nebraska, Reed said.

Andrews said becoming the new director of Central Nebraska operations is an exciting opportunity.

“We want to be able to serve more youth and families here in Central Nebraska,” Andrews said. “We want to continue our efforts to keep kids in their homes and keep them safe and help them succeed.”

Andrews said Boys Town needs more foster parents.

For more information about becoming Boys Town foster parents, contact Shawna Hammond at (308) 381-4444 or

washington-dc-partners-with-industrial-bank-for-community-outreachWashington DC Partners with Industrial Bank for Community OutreachWashington DC
Tuesday, Aug 9, 2016

On July 8, Adrienne ​Walsh, Boys Town Washington DC’s Development Coordinator, hosted a community engagement table at Industrial Bank. Walsh shared information about Boys Town’s programs with the bank’s customers. It was a scorching hot day on the east coast, so customers were happy to see that Walsh was handing out Boys Town fans! Keeping with the summer theme, she also sent them away with seed packets with the saying “Help plant the seeds of change at Boys Town” sprawled across the packaging.

Industrial Bank’s Senior Vice President and Senior Lender, Roderick Johnson, is on the Boys Town Washington DC Board of Directors. Their banking model is based on civic mindfulness. Boys Town Washington DC is thrilled to partner a bank so deeply rooted in the community.

“[They] do a lot of work within the area and with different nonprofits in the community,” Walsh said. Boys Town is fortunate to be one of those nonprofits.”

There are plans in the works to have the bank do financial literacy classes with some of the youth in the Family Home Program in order to teach them about saving money, how to use checking accounts and how to manage a credit card. Since Industrial Bank is located near the DC campus, the booth was a great way for the DC site to further their community engagement specifically within their neighborhood.

Walsh described the bank’s friendly environment as a “true sense of what […] community is.”

“The tellers knew almost every customer that walked in by name,” she said. “And the customers knew everyone from the security guard to the manager who would run out and greet whoever walked in.”

It was that community atmosphere that allowed Walsh to talk to customers and teach them about Boys Town’s efforts.

“A lot of people didn’t know we were in the neighborhood,” Walsh said. “A lot of people knew us because of the movie, but they didn’t realize that we were in DC.”

Walsh was then able to inform the community members about where Boys Town was located and teach them about the different programs. While she talked about the residential programs, she emphasized the community-based services such as Common Sense Parenting® and In-Home Family Services.

“I think community engagement events are really important for affiliate sites to do,” she said. “We have an amazing opportunity to share Father Flanagan’s 100-year-old mission and share the science we put behind that to prove it works. It was exciting show people that we have something so unique right in their own backyard.”

The locality of the programs shows individuals that what Boys Town does is for them and the families in their area.

“Community engagement, particularly in our own neighborhood, is a way to create alliances with the people we are working with and serving every day,” Walsh said.

Thank you to Industrial Bank for their loyal partnership. Companies like them make community engagement possible!

for-more-than-26-years-sharon-martin-has-been-the-lifesaving-ear-on-the-other-end-of-theFor More Than 26 years, Sharon Martin has Been the Lifesaving Ear on the Other End of the LineNebraska
Copyright Kurt A. Keeler
Monday, Aug 8, 2016

This article ​is written by Dan McCann as a Special for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska. It was posted on on August 7, 2016.

Almost a decade later, Sharon Martin, 66, still remembers the call and the caller vividly: a teenage boy caught in an emotional riptide of failing grades, divorcing parents and his own recent breakup. A handful of sleeping pills – that was his plan. En route to make the purchase – but desperate for a lifeline – he dialed the Boys Town National Hotline.

Sharon, a specially-trained crisis counselor, picked up and surrounded the boy with support.

“I called back later that day and talked to his mom, and she said, ‘You saved his life ... We’re going to get to family counseling. Everything is going to change from here on.’ It was one of the best calls I ever had.”

For more than 26 years – and for thousands of people in turmoil – Sharon has been a steady, reassuring and life-saving voice on the other end of the line; a woman dedicated to others, fearless about wading into the complexities and messiness of life.

“We really do listen, and we really do care,” she says. “Every day when I leave here, I want to feel like I made a difference in a person’s life, even one person. If I’ve done that, then I’ve done what I needed to do.”

The Boys Town National Hotline, supported, in part, by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska’s charitable giving to Boys Town, is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Callers to the hotline range from exasperated parents to teens dealing with bullying to adults wrestling with varying mental health issues. Some callers just need an ear willing to listen. Others benefit from social service referrals.

“People who are in serious crisis, many times they’ll call and say, ‘I’m really depressed and I’m feeling suicidal.’ That call can last an hour-and-a-half. We may end up having to involve police,” she offers.

Sharon began serving as a crisis counselor in 1990 when the Boys Town National Hotline was brand-new. It was, to her, a natural extension of the Boys Town family teaching she and her husband had done for 13 years prior.

“I love helping people – and I really mean that,” she says. “Knowing that I am listening and caring enough to be in that conversation can make a huge difference in the life of a person who is struggling and feels like they have no one to turn to.”

A lot has changed during Sharon's tenure. Counselors have computers now, and those in need of assistance can text or chat online. What hasn’t changed are the skills necessary to be effective.

“You have to be a caring person. You have to be a good listener,” she says. “You have to be patient. Patience is a huge component of working here, along with empathy.”

Sharon embodies that blend, and the community has taken notice. Earlier this year, Project Harmony honored her with its Kids First Award for her commitment and distinguished service to children in the community.

“Sharon has a great ability to build rapport with hotline users, leading to best case outcomes,” says supervisor Diana Schmidt. “Her calm demeanor is reassuring to callers; her nonjudgmental manner is refreshing.”

Sharon is equally complimentary of her co-workers.

“Honestly, the hotline is like no place I’ve ever worked. The people here and the supervisory staff are amazing. They are the most caring group I have ever seen in one building. That’s another big reason why I stay.”

Sharon forewent full retirement last year, dialing back to part time instead. She now can spend more time with her five grandchildren and pursue additional avenues of outreach. She volunteers as a “mentor mom” at Bethlehem House, an organization that offers a safe and nurturing home to pregnant women who are in crisis. More proof that for Sharon, “not my problem” is not an option.

“If people would just extend themselves a little more and show how much they care about each other as we do here on an everyday basis, we’d have such a better world. I just strive every day to come in here and say, ‘This is the first day of the rest of my life’ and to make it count for somebody.”

“Faces of Fearless” is a storytelling series in Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska’s “Live Fearless” campaign celebrating people living their very best lives and inspiring others to do the same.

11-year-old-girls-become-devoted-supporters-of-boys-town-texas11-Year-Old Girls Become Devoted Supporters of Boys Town TexasTexas
Friday, Aug 5, 2016

While many supporters of Boys Town tend to be adults, there is a lesser-known group of donors—children—who also do great things to support the mission. Two of these young supporters, ​Jacqueline Fentress and Ava Daetwyler have become big supporters of Boys Town Texas over the last few years.

Jacqueline Fentress’s knowledge of Boys Town started young. Her grandfather was a long-time supporter of Boys Town’s mission, donating to the Texas site most of his life. Although Jacqueline’s grandfather had passed away before her birth, his passion for the mission lives on through her.

A few years ago, Jacqueline and her older brother decided to volunteer, and choosing Boys Town Texas to give their time seemed like an easy choice. After working with Joyce Horner, Boys Town Texas Development Director, the pair spent a day cleaning flowerbeds at the site.

When it came time for Jacqueline’s 10th birthday in October 2014, the young girl believed she had all the presents she wanted, deciding instead to give back to the organization she felt most connected to. After working with the other students at her school to collect donations, the Fentress family was overwhelmed by the amount of support they had received.

The family had collected dozens of dance costumes, wigs, Halloween costumes, and costume jewelry, which were hand-delivered by Jacqueline to the children at Boys Town Texas.

The next year, Jacqueline wanted to keep this new tradition alive. She decided to have a joint 11th birthday party with her friend, Ava Daetwyler, but instead of asking for presents, the girls asked for monetary donations. Inviting the entire class to their party, the girls raised nearly $400, which was presented to Boys Town Texas at its annual Race to Prevent Child Abuse on April 2, 2016.

“Jacqueline and Ava are amazing young ladies who believe in paying it forward,” said Joyce Horner. “They got several of their friends involved in supporting Boys Town Texas. We are truly blessed by the generosity of these young ladies!”

Seeing her work make a difference in the community with an organization she holds close to her heart continues to motivate Jacqueline to do more. With the success of her collections, she plans on continuing this birthday tradition for years to come.

Boys Town thanks Jacqueline and Ava for their gifts to Boys Town Texas, as well as the many other youth around the country who selflessly donate their time and treasure to support the mission.

boys-town-central-florida-supports-first-responders-in-wake-of-tragedyBoys Town Central Florida Supports First Responders in Wake of TragedyCentral Florida
Friday, Aug 5, 2016

In light of the recent tragedy in Orlando, Florida, Boys Town Central Florida decided to come together and honor those who were at the center of the disaster. The week following the attack on Orlando’s Pulse Night Club, Central Florida’s management team collaborated to honor and thank first responders for their service to the community in its time of need.

“The Pulse tragedy could have easily divided our Central Florida Community, but instead it brought us closer and made us stronger. Seeing volunteers line up to give blood and donations, the outpouring of support from all over the country, and differences set aside was inspiring.” Boys Town Central Florida Executive Director Gregory Zbylut reflected on the tragedy. “Our staff and youth wanted to play a part and we wanted to teach our youth how to do that.  We also want to recognize our North and South Florida sites that were quick to offer their support in the form of cards for responders and encouragement.”

Large thank you baskets were delivered to nine different police stations, fire stations, ERs and to a local LBGT Support Organization. Kids from both Boys Town Central Florida and Boys Town North Florida programs sent hand written cards thanking the responders and show their appreciation for their service to be included in the baskets filled with snacks, candy, coffee mugs and other small gifts.

Youth from the Central Florida location were then able to help Zbylut, Troy Dunberger, Senior Director, Program Operations, and other ​Boys Town Central Florida staff members deliver the baskets to these different locations across Orlando. 

“The first responders and LGBT Support Organization were very appreciative of the thank you baskets,” said Jackie Nitti, Community Engagement Coordinator at Boys Town Central Florida. When the staff members and youth arrived at the fire station, they were able to spend time with the firefighters, receive tours of the building and the fire trucks and even had the opportunity to shoot the water hose.

“The youth really enjoyed getting to learn more about their community and showing appreciation to the first responders.” said Nitti. “People from so many different communities really came together to show their appreciation.”

recruitment-stock-rising-for-boys-towns-teddy-allenRecruitment Stock Rising for Boys Town’s Teddy AllenNebraska
Teddy Allen, a senior at Boys Town, is considering multiple scholarship offers.
Thursday, Aug 4, 2016

This ​article is written by Stu Pospisil / World-Herald staff writer. It was posted on on August 3, 2016.

Not much could top the high-major men’s basketball offers Boys Town’s Teddy Allen has been receiving.

But for Allen and the Cowboys, it was the news Tuesday that the Nebraska School Activities Association has granted his hardship waiver to play this season.

“We got the paperwork back this morning,’’ Boys Town coach Tom Krehbiel said. “We are excited to say the least.”

Allen, a 6-foot-5 small forward from the Phoenix area, will be a senior. He enrolled a year ago at Boys Town and became eligible for the second semester. He made the All-Nebraska second team and Class C-1 first team after averaging 26.6 points and 12.3 rebounds.

On the summer circuit, his play with the Omaha Sports Academy Crusaders has moved him up recruiting boards across the country.

Krehbiel, who met Monday with Allen, said the schools Allen is considering offers from at this point are Iowa State, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, DePaul, Cincinnati and UNO.

“He really likes coach (Derrin) Hansen and the staff is why (UNO is) still in play,’’ Krehbiel said.

Creighton and Nebraska haven’t offered, the coach said, “but they seem really interested.”

Allen has been on college lists since he attended Desert Ridge High School in Mesa, Arizona, where he averaged 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds as a sophomore in 2013-14. Boys Town listed him last year as a junior.

“Ask coach Krehbiel or anybody who’s coached me, I have supreme confidence in my game and where it can take me,’’ Allen said. “I’m not saying I’m surprised by these offers because I’ve put in the work, but it’s a dream come true to receive offers from some of the best programs and doing it from here. Nebraska isn’t traditionally a place like that.
“There’s two others in the state with (Power Five) offers and now three with me. It’s cool to put on for Nebraska and Boys Town.”

Senior forward Aguek Arop of Omaha South, who’s been pledged to NU for two years, is one. The other is 6-7 junior Ed Chang of Papillion-La Vista, whose offer from St. John’s in June followed those last winter from CU and NU.

Allen’s OSA 17-and-under team made the quarterfinals of the Fab 48 summer tournament in Las Vegas. In five games, he scored 38 points twice and averaged 30.0.

Krehbiel said Allen was playing well in June when Boys Town was in summer leagues and camps going against Class A schools.

“When he went on the road in July with OSA, we expected him to have the summer he did,’’ Krehbiel said. “My assessment, he can score in any conference. Now he might give up 30, but can score anywhere.

“He’s worked to improve his shooting and conditioning. His body is so different than what you saw at the end of districts. He’s down from 230 to about 215, and it’s a good 215. He’s worked hard in the weight room.”

Krehbiel said Allen’s defensive issues stem from the “want-to” of playing on that end of the court and respecting the opponent.

“His defense is at least good enough right now that college coaches aren’t worried about it,’’ Krehbiel said. “They’ve focused on how versatile and put-together he is and see a high level for him. He is really tough to stop.”

Allen is working hard elsewhere on the Boys Town campus. He’s taken summer classes, some of which he said will count toward NCAA clearinghouse requirements.

Krehbiel said Allen also has completed prep work on the ACT. His first testing will be in October.

“I think there will be more offers coming once he gets the ACT score,’’ Krehbiel said.

He said he had to shut off his cell phone because he was getting so many calls and texts about Allen while he was coaching his daughter’s team in Denver.

It was intentional, Krehbiel said, that Allen played for OSA. Its coach, Jim Simons, is an assistant at Omaha Westside and widely known in Omaha’s coaching community.

“We purposely put him in that club with that coach,’’ Krehbiel said.

Allen said how he played in Las Vegas may have benefited his OSA teammates as well. Reaching the final eight in the invitational’s top bracket gave Nebraska better respect, and “I heard some of my peers got offers from the success I had.”

There’s another Allen coming up behind him. Younger brother Timmy is a 6-5 junior small forward who averaged 21 points last year at Desert Ridge. He has college offers that include Nebraska, Creighton, Arizona State and UCLA.

Krehbiel said he believes the brothers will look for separate paths.

Teddy Allen said he has the support system to handle the ever-intensifying recruiting process.

“I don’t think it will be super-hard,’’ he said. “I have my coaches, my stepdad and mom. It’s not super-easy to reach me here.

“I’m just trying to do my part, staying with my nose in the books and getting in the gym. Control what you can, like coach Krehbiel says, and all will work out.”

boys-town-awards-youth-at-annual-banquetBoys Town Awards Youth at Annual BanquetNorth Florida
Thursday, Aug 4, 2016

​​​​​This article was posted on on August 1, 2016.

Boys Town North Florida held its Awards Banquet last Thursday at the Tallahassee Automobile Museum. Those youth being awarded showed up in style thanks to Mikes Limousine Service as they were greeted in turn by Dj Willie Brown.

Every child receives an award - From “Most Improved Academic Performance” to “Most Courageous” there was an individual award for every child in the Family Homes Program.
The top two awards  — “Youth of the Year” and “Ambassador of the Year” — recognize the recipients’ ability to represent Boys Town in a positive manner within the community.

This year's Youth of the Year is Joshua and Ambassador of the Year is Emma.

Both Joshua and Emma came to Boys Town with a lot of reasons to be angry and untrusting.  It took a little while for the Family Home staff to prove that they were committed to helping them.  Once they understood that the Home's goal was to let the light inside of them shine bright, they embraced every ounce of help they were offered with arms wide open.

About Joshua: Joshua had developed such a strong sense of self and has goals for his future.  He is an example to the other youth that your past does not have to define your future.  If there is any way he can help, Joshua will be there and will put his best foot forward every time. He has earned the title “Youth of the Year.”

About Emma: There isn’t a soul that comes in contact with Emma, that doesn’t leave ​feeling just a little lighter.   Her resolve to change her story, her desire to see everyone succeed and her ability to make every person she meets better just for knowing her, has earned her the “Ambassador of the Year” Award for the Family Home Program.

jennifer-nguyen-represents-boys-town-at-sister-cities-summit-in-dublinJennifer Nguyen Represents Boys Town at Sister Cities Summit in DublinNebraska
Monday, Aug 1, 2016

Boys Town’s 115th Mayor, Jennifer Nguyen, received an exciting opportunity when she was invited to the All Ireland and United States Sister Cities Mayor’s Summit in Dublin, Ireland, April 21-24, 2016.

The summit was the first of its kind and brought together 200 United States city mayors, business, education and youth leaders from the 60 cities that are the “sisters” of cities in Ireland. As Mayor of Boys Town, the sister city of Boys Town Founder Father Edward Flanagan’s birthplace, Ballymoe, Ireland, Jennifer was invited to not only attend but to also speak at the summit.

During her speech, Jennifer focused on the history of Boys Town and the positive impact of the program upon her life and the thousands of other residents over the past 98 years.
While attending the conference, Jennifer also had the opportunity to meet many of Ireland’s leaders, including President Michael D. Higgins and First Lady Sabina Higgins, and Lord Mayor of Dublin Críona Ní Dhálaigh. 

In addition to attending the conference, Jennifer and her Family-Teachers, Scott and Kimberly Kavanaugh, also took-in the Irish sites and culture. They visited Father Flanagan’s hometown and his house, stopping to visit with the Collins family who now own the property of Father Flanagan’s birthplace. They even attended a “football” game!

Boys Town is proud to share a connection with Ireland and to be able to show the work we do with children and families. Thanks again to the Sister Cities Mayor’s Summit for inviting Jennifer!

boys-town-nevadas-ufc-night-kicks-off-fight-weekBoys Town Nevada's UFC Night Kicks off Fight Week Nevada
UFC Fighters
Tuesday, Jul 26, 2016

Nearly 100 Boys Town Nevada youth and families gathered July 6, 2016 to enjoy Chinese food and listen to UFC fighters speak about their personal lives. UFC Night has become something the Nevada site looks forward to, thanks to Boys Town Nevada Board Member Tony Sgro. Sgro developed a partnership with UFC’s Reed Harris and Panda Express to host this successful event.

The partnership with UFC began over a decade ago and has since provided Boys Town Nevada with inspiring events twice a year where UFC fighters share their stories and interact with the youth. This year, famous fighters Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes, and Johnny "Hollywood" Case delivered speeches to the audience.

Each fighter discussed their upbringings including: how they overcame obstacles through determination, hard work and staying focused, and how these values helped them on their path to becoming UFC fighters. The fighters then related this back to how the youth shouldn’t let their obstacles keep them from achieving their goals and how they can also overcome obstacles through determination, hard work and by staying focused.

“The youth were captivated by the stories of each fighter,” said Lesly Johnson, Boys Town Nevada Development Coordinator. “Just looking at their faces- they were intensely listening and their faces lit up.”

After the presentation, the youth had the opportunity to take photos with the fighters and receive signed autographs. They were also given gift cards and UFC T-shirts.

“Boys Town Nevada is really appreciative of UFC for coming out and doing this for us twice a year.” Johnson said. “Especially during fight week when the fighters are so busy; we really appreciate that they took time out of their busy schedules to come and talk to the boys and girls of Boys Town Nevada.”

fifth-annual-blue-water-bash-brings-in-record-breaking-amountBoys Town Okoboji Event Has Record Breaking Success and Honors Local Family for ContributionsNebraska
The O'Brien Family was honored with the Wave Maker Award for their continuous support of Boys Town.
Tuesday, Jul 26, 2016

​Another successful year means Boys Town kids will see improvements at the 50-year-old Okoboji camp. More than $100,000 was raised at this year’s Blue Water Bash which directly benefits the camps renovation project.

The O’Brien family, from the Spencer area, was recipients of the Wave Maker Award for their outstanding support of the Boys Town mission. The family has given their generous support and has helped get the lake community involved in raising money to update the Boys Town facilities at Okoboji. The family grew up visiting their lake cottage that is close to the Boys Town home.

“My dad had a heart for Boys Town. Boys Town was always one of his favorite causes,” said Mary Ann O’Brien, award recipient. “He was so proud of my sister Peg and my cousin Mike Wilson and their dedication as employees and advocates of Boys Town for the past 20+ years. Over the years, as my siblings and I grew, he especially loved to see the kids at the camp each summer in Okoboji having fun in the water and playing basketball late into the night.”

The first phase of renovation provided living quarters for the camp director and cook. The next phase starts in 2017 with work on the outside of the home.

“Although the camp was donated to Boys Town, it takes tremendous effort and money to restore and operate it each year,” said Herb Hames, Boys Town Development Director. “The event helps with projects, staffing, food, supplies and equipment. We are so thankful to the O’Brien family and the entire community that has helped us over the past 5 years.”

Plans are already underway for next year’s event.

south-florida-employees-complete-nonprofits-first-rising-leader-programSouth Florida Employees Complete Nonprofits First Rising Leader ProgramSouth Florida
Monday, Jul 25, 2016

On June 17, LaToya Davenport, Director of Boys Town South Florida Program Support Services, and Lucia Stanfield, Director of Boys Town South Florida In-Home Family Services, graduated from the Nonprofits First’s Rising Leader Program. The Boys Town employees were 2 of 22 nonprofit workers to complete the training.

The program, launched in 2005, was developed to teach participants effective strategies when handling major leadership or organizational challenges in order to help them advance to the next level of personal and professional growth.

The Rising Leader Program spans six months, beginning in January with two consecutive days of training. February through May, the participants attend one day of training each month, with an evening networking event in February. In June, the program hosts an overnight retreat at a South Florida conference center, followed by the program graduation ceremony and celebration later that month.

The curriculum spans a variety of topics, including leadership and communication, negotiation, overcoming the five dysfunctions of a team, and leading change.

“I wanted to make sure that I seize every opportunity to develop as a leader so I can have as many tools in my tool belt, in order to serve my site and my team with the utmost quality and level of excellence that they deserve,” Stanfield said.

Stanfield walked away from the Rising Leader Program with ”a better understanding of the core function of other leadership styles, and how my leadership style can complement their, and vice versa.” This awareness will help her be more productive with her peers at Boys Town.

The program also includes service-learning, where participants spend 10-15 additional hours working on a service project with other members of the program. Davenport’s service-learning group “created a Board Orientation and Volunteer Manual (to include agency strategic plan, CQI plan, updated policies and procedures, and marketing/development plan) for Grandma’s Place, a local emergency placement shelter for children who are victims of abuse and/or neglect.”

Davenport frequently works with Boys Town South Florida’s Board Orientation and Volunteer Manual, so the development of the manuals for Grandma’s Place was something she was familiar with.

“It was quite simple, but just a tad bit different since they are an emergency shelter placement,” she said. “There were different law and contract requirements for both, but my past experience working with foster homes prior to coming to Boys Town was a tremendous plus and made the process go a lot smoother for me and my team.”

The service-learning project taught Davenport a lot about residential treatment facilities from an administration standpoint and how it coincides with Florida law, but she also learned a lot about herself as a leader.

“It taught me a certain level of patience in dealing with difficult situations and people and problem-solving skills I never knew I had,” she said.

Davenport also learned “how to work better in a team setting with different personality types.”

In Stanfield’s service-learning project, she worked with Diabetes Coalition, helping them host a Diabetes Symposium for Medical and Mental Health Professions.

“This experience taught me how to let go of control, and allow other leaders, professionals, and competent individuals do their part in the process,” Stanfield said.

The service-learning project allowed her to recognize individual strengths and learning styles of group members.

“It was very liberating,” she said.

For Davenport, the program gave her an opportunity to step back and look at the daily pressures of her job and look at the bigger picture. She was also able to learn new skills and enhance her preexisting ones.

“Paying attention to your own leadership development will not only make you a better leader but will also make your organization a better organization as well,” she said.

After graduating from the program, Davenport feels that she what she has learned “will help me to become more comfortable in my current role as Director of Program Support Services and with working within any part of the Boys Town organization.”

Stanfield believes that she will be able to “help my team develop into leaders by helping them embrace their individual strengths and leadership styles, so they, too, can grow into future leaders at Boys Town.”

nebraska-passport-2016-hall-of-history-shares-the-boys-town-storyNebraska Passport 2016: Hall of History Shares the Boys Town StoryNebraska
Copyright Nebraska Tourism
Monday, Jul 18, 2016

This article is written by Todd von Kampen, World-Herald Correspondent. It was posted on on on July 17, 2016.

Though he died nearly 70 years ago, Boys Town’s famous founder still commands special attention on the campus of his beloved ministry for troubled youth.

The story, teachings and keepsakes of Monsignor Edward J. Flanagan (1886-1948) await visitors to the Boys Town Hall of History, which opened 30 years ago in the former grade school dining hall on the campus off 137th Street on the West Dodge Expressway.

Next year marks the centennial of establishment of Flanagan’s original home for homeless boys. Four years later, he bought the rolling, forested Overlook Farm that remains Boys Town’s main campus and national headquarters.

The 10,000-square-foot Hall of History’s physical and audiovisual displays tell not only of Flanagan’s national and worldwide impact but also of the evolution of child care in America.

Its most famous artifact remains the Oscar won by Spencer Tracy for playing Flanagan in the 1938 movie “Boys Town” filmed on the campus — and later shipped by Tracy to Flanagan unannounced.

Other highlights include a mini-theater in the front half of the bus in which Flanagan drove Boys Town athletic teams to games; alumni stories and artifacts; audio and movie clips of Flanagan and prominent visitors, such as President Harry S. Truman; and mannequins showing one boy carrying another on his back — depicting the famous Boys Town slogan “He ain’t heavy, Father … he’s m’brother” — as well as Flanagan with a boy. About the statue

A new symbol — a statue of an older boy carrying a littler girl on his back; the young man black, the girl white — will be at the entrance next year when Boys Town celebrates its 100th anniversary. (Boys Town has been admitting girls since 1979.)

Its first symbol was of a single little boy with outstretched arms. When that plaster of Paris statue disintegrated in Nebraska’s weather in the early 1940s, Flanagan opted for a successor statue with one brother carrying another. That version underwent additional changes in the 1970s, with the littler boy looking forward instead of having his head slumped over.

The statue from the ’40s is in the visitors center; the ’70s statue will be moved to the Boys Town Hall of History.

Need to know
Website:; click on About and then History
Phone: 402-498-1122
Address: 14057 Flanagan Blvd., Boys Town, NE 68010
Admission: Free
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday

weather-damage-fixed-at-boys-towWeather Damage Fixed at Boys TownNebraska
Friday, Jul 15, 2016

​​This article was posted July 14, 2016 on

It took two years but the weather damage done to a Boys Town church has been undone. A crane restored the copper top on Thursday.

The dome itself was repaired. The cross was replaced.

We're told that after a morning mass members of the church were given a chance to touch the piece before it was put back in place.

Thomas Lynch, Boys Town’s Director of Community Programs, said, “Father Flanagan said our chapel was a prayer in stone and to our boys and girls it's a very important chapel. So having it restored to its original state keeps that closer link to Father Flanagan and our mission to save Boys Town of saving children."

Dowd chapel, where the repairs were done, has been the center of the village of Boys Town for more than 60 years.

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