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Boys Town in the News

News Media Contacts

Kara Neuverth
Media Relations Director
402-498-1305
Kara.Neuverth@boystown.org

Lauren Laferla
Media Relations Specialist
402-498-1273
Lauren.Laferla@boystown.org
Twitter: @LaurenLaferla

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News From Across the United States

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decades-ago-the-movie-and-its-stars-captivated-locals-far-from-hollywoodNewDecades 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.

after-heartache-a-young-girl-finds-redemption-and-loveAfter Much Heartache and Hardship, a Young Girl Finds Redemption and LoveNorth Florida
During a visit to Boys Town’s home campus in Nebraska, Emma met with Father Steven Boes, Boys Town’s National Executive Director
Monday, Oct 16, 2017

When staff members at Boys Town North Florida first met 14-year-old Emma Slater, they instantly took a strong liking to their new "bouncing ball of energy."

Emma's cheery disposition, however, belied a dark and tumultuous past.

Born in China, Emma was abandoned by her parents when she was just 3. A police officer rescued her from the streets and she was taken to an orphanage. Sadly, the orphanage staff neglected and abused her.  

Emma longed for someone to love her, and at age 7, she was adopted by an American family and brought to the United States. But two years later, the family dissolved the adoption and gave her to another family. That family also adopted Emma, but later tried to unsuccessfully pass her off to several other families. All of this occurred outside the child welfare system, so Emma had no one to protect her or advocate for her.

Eventually, Emma was placed in a locked residential facility. By the time she finally entered the formal foster care system, she was carrying a long list of trauma-related behaviors no foster parents could deal with and the despairing belief that she was unlovable.

In 2014, Emma arrived at her Boys Town North Florida Family Home in Tallahassee with severe attachment issues, academic failures and unresolved anger problems. If that weren't enough, the teen also suffered from speech and language impairments due to a cleft palate.

Despite the many disruptions and disappointments she had experienced, Emma was excited to be at Boys Town. Tonia Westerfield, director of the site's Family Home Program, called Emma's first two months a "honeymoon."

But then it all unraveled.  

"As the new school year approached, Emma felt intense anxiety," explained Tonia. "Those fears, combined with other stressors, led Emma to hurt herself and engage in scary behaviors."

Emma's combativeness grew more frequent and severe, and she was especially volatile when her Family-Teachers® (the married couple caring for her in the Family Home) corrected misbehaviors and provided consequences.     

"Emma equated love with material possessions. So when things were taken from her as a consequence of her negative actions, she thought love was being taken away, too," Tonia said.

Changing Emma's polarized, black-or-white thinking took time and patience. To help her broaden her thinking and understand the true meaning of love, her therapy included giving all of her personal belongings to Tonia. To earn them back, Emma had to demonstrate she could be a good "sister" to the other girls in her Family Home. That meant treating them with respect, helping to take care of the home and not putting herself or anyone else in danger.

Emma accepted the challenge, grateful that Boys Town didn't give up on her. After months of intense therapy and skill teaching, Emma earned back all her prized possessions. She even became a role model to others in the program.   

With her behaviors in check, staff turned their attention to improving Emma's academic performance.

Emma was below her grade level and failing her classes when Boys Town contacted a local academy that offers specialized instruction to students with speech and language challenges. Emma was accepted into the school and thrived in its single-classroom environment, earning straight A's and advancing multiple grade levels.

While Emma progressed socially and academically, her caregivers developed a plan to have her cleft palate repaired. Fortunately, Boys Town National Research Hospital® in Omaha, Nebraska, helps thousands of children who are deaf, hard of hearing or, like Emma, have speech and communication problems.

After multiple trips to "Omahoma," as Emma called it, a team of craniofacial specialists designed a treatment plan to correct her condition and successfully performed reconstructive surgery.

Now, the volatile, emotionally damaged girl who came to Boys Town two years earlier had blossomed into a poised young lady who laughed easily, shared generously and loved unconditionally.  

As Emma's journey of personal growth and physical healing continued, fate intervened in the most heartwarming way.

During a review of Emma's case file, a letter from one of her previous foster parents, Janice and Ervin Slater, was discovered. It described the heartache they felt over not being able to provide the level of care Emma needed, along with the hope that she might someday return.    

"In Emma's therapy sessions, she often talked about the couple and described them as very kind. She felt a lot of remorse for how she acted in their home," Tonia said. 

Boys Town reached out to the Slaters. Without hesitation, the couple made the five-hour drive from their home in Dade City the very next day.     

The emotional reunion was such a success that the Slaters, with Boys Town's consent, began the adoption process. Six months later, Emma had finally found what had so painfully eluded her… a forever family. And this time, forever means forever.  

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.

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.

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-nevada-behavioral-health-clinic-makes-official-debutBoys Town Nevada Behavioral Health Clinic Makes Official Debut at Ribbon Cutting CeremonyNevada
Boys Town Nevada Behavioral Health Clinic Makes Official Debut at Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Wednesday, Oct 11, 2017

After opening back in February 2017, the Boys Town Nevada Behavioral Health Clinic had their official ribbon cutting ceremony on September 7, 2017 to introduce the facility to the community.

With more than 30 people in attendance, the clinic held an open house where members of the community could get a first-hand look at the building and resources that it has to offer for families. Some of those that made an appearance for the clinic's opening included well-known members of the Nevada area such as Assemblyman Steve Yeager and representatives from the offices of: Governor Sandoval, Senator Heller, Senator Cortez Masto, Congresswoman Rosen, and Congressman Kihuen.

For the Boys Town Nevada Behavioral Clinic, the open house was more than a peek inside the new building. "It was an opportunity to further introduce Boys Town Nevada to our community, further some key relationships with donors and decision makers, and build relationships with referring agents," said Dr. Tara Borsh, Boys Town Nevada Behavioral Health Clinic Director.

While the Behavioral Health Clinic has only been open for 7 months at Boys Town, several establishments have assisted in the development through their incredibly generous donations and contributions.

The Golden Nugget, a local casino that has worked with Boys Town Nevada for several years, has put in great efforts to support the clinic by donating all of the toys needed for the facility. The University of Nevada-Las Vegas and the Nevada Psychological Association (NPA) have also been involved with the clinic through their active promoting and patient referrals. Local schools and pediatricians lend their support by referring patients, as well.

Dr. Borsh has already set major goals for the progression of the clinic. "We plan to continue adding psychologists to meet the needs of the community for behavioral health services, and co-locate from the pediatrician offices," she said. With only two employees so far, Dr. Borsh and Clinic Services Representative Heather Parker, the clinic is looking to add a staff psychologist position. Not only is the staff expanding, but Dr. Borsh hopes to see an increase in families coming to the Behavioral Clinic, and is projected to work with 90 families in 2017.

jill-marchitello-awarded-fccs-support-staff-of-the-yearJill Marchitello Awarded FCC’s Support Staff of the YearSouth Florida
Jill Marchitello
Friday, Sep 29, 2017

On Tuesday, July 26, 2017, Jill Marchitello, Boys Town South Florida Admission Specialist, received the Florida Coalition for Children's (FCC) Support Staff of the Year Award.

Marchitello was one of 15 individuals awarded at the FCC's annual conference, which hosts more than 600 attendees and focuses on the agencies and individuals who work with Florida's vulnerable children and youth. Marchitello's passion for helping children and families prompted her supervisor, Pam Heck, to nominate her for this annual award from the FCC.

"I nominated Jill because she consistently goes above and beyond for all of our families and staff." Pam Heck said.  "She also has excellent relationships with our referral sources.  They constantly remark at how much they enjoy referring to Boys Town because of working with Jill.  She is efficient, quick about responding to their needs and keeps them in the loop with the status of the referral."

"The nomination came as a surprise to me," Marchitello said. "I was very honored."

Marchitello began her career at Boys Town more than 17 years ago. She started as a Care Coordination Consultant for the South Florida site before spending a little over five years as a Family Consultant for In-Home Family Services. She then transitioned to a part-time position for a few years while she started her family. Today, Marchitello serves as the Admission Specialist for In-Home Family Services.

"It's a good feeling knowing that I'm making a difference in the lives of children and families every day," Jill said.

Marchitello spends her days receiving referrals for the South Florida site, making sure children meet criteria for the programs, and ensuring each family receives the right services all while working with several community agencies within the West Palm Beach and Broward communities.

"Jill has streamlined a number of our referral processes and tracking.  She has made our program run smoothly and efficiently. She really is the one that engages our families before anyone else ever sees them." Heck said. "There are a number of families that would have declined our services, but due to Jill's care and concern they are open to that initial visit."

The FCC is an organization dedicated to advocating on behalf of Florida's abused, abandoned, neglected and at risk children while supporting the agencies and individuals who work on their behalf. The vision of the Coalition is to see a system of child welfare in Florida that is fully resourced, well managed and fulfills the needs of Florida's vulnerable children and families.

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.

boys-town-offers-several-programs-to-help-kids-families-in-the-communityBoys Town offers several programs to help kids, families in the communityCentral Nebraska
Megan Welch
Wednesday, Sep 27, 2017

This article is written by Harold Reutter of the Grand Island Independent. It was posted on theindependent.com on September 24, 2017. 

Boys Town Grand Island has been in the community since 1989, serving simultaneously as a very high-visibility facility because of its location at 3230 Wildwood Road along Highway 281 south of Grand Island and as a low-key member of the community because relatively few people actually go into that residential treatment center.

"We've added several programs over the years to meet kids and families wherever they're at," said Megan Andrews, site operations director.

Boys Town programs in Omaha and locally include:

Psychiatric residential treatment center: This is Boys Town's highest level of care and also the most restrictive level of care. The facility is located in Omaha, which is the only place where those services are offered. It is intended to serve youth ages 5 to 18 who have more several behavioral and mental health problems.

Intervention and assessment program: This program is offered in the shelter on the east side of Highway 281 south of Grand Island. The average length of stay for a young person was 21 days for the year 2016, although there is a wide variety depending on the young person. Most youth are placed at the shelter by juvenile probation, although private placement is also accepted.

If parents are having difficulties and are not sure what to do, they can place their child at the shelter for a week until treatment options can be devised. The shelter includes a PASS program for Positive Alternatives to School Suspensions. The shelter has an agreement with some area school districts: if a student is suspended, he or she will serve that suspension the intervention and assessment program at the shelter

Family home programs are the third-highest level and third-most restrictive program. Married couples and single adults or parents take in children to live with them as part of the Boys Town Village in Omaha The adults are called family teachers. They usually have six to eight kids living in their homes, with homes designated either for boys or for girls. "The goal is to keep them there at least a year in order to be effective." The system includes support staff who serves as assistant family teachers.

Foster family services: This is the next level of care. Boys Town helps train and support the foster home. A consultant is available for these homes 24/7 in case of a crisis. Foster homes are always needed for older children, with some studies show that kids can be difficult to place in foster homes as early as 4, and the older the kids get, the more difficult they are to place. "We're always looking for good quality homes that are going to take older kids."

Ecological in-home family treatment model: Children stay in their homes as Boys Town helps family members work through conflicts. Boys Town performs assessments to determine what skills, resources and support the family needs to help them be successful and to keep children at home. The consultant coaches and guides parents "right then and there" as they interact with their children. Parents also work on skills such as interviewing for and getting a job, and managing personal finances. In-home family services have been offered in Grand Island for four years, with Boys Town and University of Nebraska Lincoln doing research to provide evidence of the program's effectiveness. The formal name of the program is the ecological in-home family treatment model.

Community support services is the sixth and least-restrictive level of service. Services include a behavioral health clinic in Grand Island, in which families can go in and get assessments or see a therapist in a typical therapy office setting.

Boys Town also offers an alternative K-12 day school in Duncan that educates about 40 students.

To celebrate the Boys Town's Centennial, Boys Town Central Nebraska is inviting the public for a special screening of the Oscar-winning movie "Boys Town" on Thursday, Oct. 5, at the Grand Theatre, 316 W. 3rd St. The evening begins with a cocktail hour and hors d'oeuvres from 6 to 7 p.m., with live instrumental music. A showing of the 1938 classic, starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney, will follow.

People will meet Boys Town Central Nebraska staff and local community leaders who are dedicated saving children and healing families. People can have their picture taken with the Best Actor Oscar that Spencer Tracy earned for his performance. Tickets, which are $25, can be purchased at boystown.org/central-nebraska or at the Grand Island HyVee.

People with questions may contact Megan Andrews at (308) 224-3338 or megan.andrews@boystown.org.

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."

 

emilys-storyEmily's StoryCentral Nebraska
Emily's Story
Monday, Sep 18, 2017

Today, Emily is 20 years old and employed full-time as a waitress in Grand Island, Nebraska. She has plans to start school soon to become a nurse, and her future looks bright. 

But Emily's journey from adolescence to adulthood was filled with darkness, pain and uncertainty. Here, in her own words, she describes her experiences of loss and loneliness and, finally, with Boys Town Central Nebraska's help, her redemption.  

This story will make you sad, angry and, in the end, happy.

I am one of many youth who have had a troubled childhood. That doesn't make me different or special, but it for sure made me stronger.

At first, my story will seem like it's all over the place. It perfectly reflects how bad my situation was growing up.

We often take things for granted, especially the ones we love. This is exactly how I was feeling as I stood outside my mom's hospital room with my stepdad as the nurses were calling a code. I was 15 when I unexpectedly lost my mom that day, and I didn't think life could possibly get any worse.

Before I go on, let me rewind to give you a little background so you'll fully understand my story.

My biological father and my mother divorced when I was 10. To be honest, it didn't bother me because they fought constantly.

My mom later met a wonderful man who became a big part our lives. I still had visitations with my biological father until I was 12. But in that two-year span, he also met someone else and my visitations with him became unhealthy and emotionally abusive. So I stopped going to see him.

Fast forward to that day outside my mom's hospital room. Two things were running through my mind: the unbelievable grief I felt and the dread running through me knowing I was going to have to get in touch with my biological father.

I called him later that night and told him I wanted to continue living with my stepdad. But I offered to start visitations again. All I got in response were rude and unnecessary comments. The next few weeks were filled with the fear that I would be taken away at my mom's funeral, that there would be more unhealthy visitations and, finally, that a court order would be issued saying I had to live with my biological father.

All I wanted to do at that time was grieve for my mom. But instead, I was being eaten up by everything else going on around me. I eventually moved in with my biological father, but I only stayed there three days. Then I ran away.

I was on my own for a month before turning myself in. I became a ward of the state and was placed in the Boys Town shelter in Grand Island as the custody battle between my biological father and my stepdad started.

When I first got to Boys Town, I was an emotional mess. All I wanted to do was cry all the time. And I wanted to go home, to my real home with my stepdad. The first few days were very hard since I couldn't have any contact with any friends or family. I felt isolated, and I didn't open up to any of the staff. It wasn't that I didn't want to; it was more that I didn't want to break down crying in front of everyone.

After a couple of weeks, things started to change. I started to grow close to many members of the Boys Town staff. They were very helpful once I was able to talk to them about what I was going through, and they all made special efforts to make a positive difference in any way they could.

Megan, a supervisor at the shelter, was so kind. She made arrangements so she could personally drive me to the cemetery to visit my mom's grave. And when I had a call with my biological father, Angela, another supervisor, sat with me since I wasn't comfortable talking to him alone. The call was not a positive experience, and Angela later wrote a letter to the court on my behalf.

To this day, I believe she is the reason I was placed with and eventually adopted by my stepdad, who is now my real dad. Because of her, the courts were able to truly see what a negative environment my biological father would provide if I had to live with him.

I write this story now so others can understand how wonderful Boys Town is. To be honest, before my two-month stay there, I thought it was a place where terrible juveniles go. I was right about the juvenile part, being that I was one myself. But the only terrible parts are the painful situations that most kids who live at the shelter are going through.

To the Boys Town Central Nebraska staff, I want to say THANK YOU. I wouldn't be where I am today without you. You really do make a difference.

boys-town-north-florida-partnership-makes-a-differenceBoys Town North Florida Partnership Makes a DifferenceNorth Florida
Dr. Weaver, Brayton Frank and Regina McQueen
Monday, Sep 18, 2017

Through Boys Town programs and services, children's lives are changed thanks to the individualized attention and support they receive; thanks to this, Brayton Frank is now able to see the world more clearly.

Frank was placed with Boys Town North Florida's Foster Family Services in May 2016 after being negatively discharged from his foster care placement due to behavioral issues that greatly affected his performance in school.

When seven-year-old Frank would become agitated or frustrated, he would immediately become angry and display verbal and physical aggression towards those around him. Frank's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) was started last year to assess his eligibility to receive specialized support in the classroom to help him achieve his academic goals and avoid suspension, which he had been prone to in the past.

While awaiting his eligibility, Foster Family Services Consultant Regina McQueen worked diligently with Frank's school, case manager and new foster parents to help Frank succeed and ensure that his needs were being met. Throughout this process, it was discovered that little Brayton Frank needed new glasses. With the earliest appointment available through a medical provider two months away, Boys Town turned to Dr. Tony Weaver of Eye Associates of Tallahassee.

After learning about Frank's struggle and situation, Dr. Weaver immediately set up an appointment to see him. Weaver, a long-time supporter of Boys Town North Florida and its mission, squeezed Frank in for an appointment despite his full schedule. Weaver and his associates went above and beyond to give back to Boys Town and change the life of a child in need. "Cute kid! He stole our hearts," said Weaver.

Now, with improved vision and through the kindness of Dr. Weaver, Brayton Frank is able to recognize objects, shapes and numbers that he was unable to see before. With his improved vision and IEP process coming to a close, Frank will be able to reach his academic goals and see the world more clearly. Boys Town North Florida's goal is to reunify Frank with his biological parents, who are overjoyed that his needs are being addressed and taken care of while he is not in their care.

teen-overcomes-self-defeating-behaviors-to-find-sucessTeen overcomes self-defeating behaviors to find sucessNew England
Yefri Acevedo celebrated his high school graduation with Jose Cabrera, the Boys Town Care Coordination Consultant who helped
Thursday, Sep 14, 2017

​As his fellow seniors at Central Falls High eagerly looked forward to graduation day and the new adventures that would follow, Yefri Acevedo was indifferent.    

School was no longer a priority, as evidenced by his abysmal attendance record and countless incompletes. Yefri's underwhelming academic performance cast serious doubt on whether he'd earn a diploma at all.    

"I procrastinated a lot and ditched my schoolwork," Yefri said. "I hung out with friends instead of staying after school and finishing my homework."

Yefri's family had always encouraged him to excel in the classroom so he would have more options in life and not struggle to make ends meet. Whenever they asked about his grades, however, Yefri made excuses or changed the subject. He didn't want to disappoint them.       

With no one to confide in, Yefri grew more stressed, his attitude soured and his prospects for graduating dimmed. That's when a school counselor introduced him to Boys Town New England Care Coordination Services, a program designed to ensure appropriate support and resources are available to children like Yefri who struggle with academic failure and poor behavioral choices.

Yefri needed an advocate and a mentor. In stepped Boys Town Care Coordination Consultant Jose Cabrera.

"When we first met, he was silent and skeptical," Jose said. "He didn't trust me and didn't think I could tell him anything he hadn't heard a thousand times before."

Earning Yefri's trust took patience. For months, the two met regularly. In the beginning, Jose mostly listened while reassuring Yefri he had no ulterior motives.   

"I straight-up said I was in his life to learn about his goals and help make those goals happen," Jose said.

In time, Yefri's confidence in, and respect for, Jose grew, and he opened up about his troubles.

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.

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.

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