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Kara Neuverth
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Lauren Laferla
Media Relations Specialist
Twitter: @LaurenLaferla

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News From Across the United States

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red-vs-blue-raising-funds-to-help-familiesTeam Red vs. Team Blue: Competition Raising Funds to Help Iowa Families Iowa
FD high fives kids
Tuesday, Apr 11, 2017

This article is written by Krystal Sidzyik. It was posted April 4, 2017 on

It's a battle for the ages.

In one corner: The Council Bluffs Police Department. representing Team Blue. In the other corner: The Council Bluffs Fire Department, representing Team Red.

The competition: To see who can collect the most hygiene and household products to benefit Boys Town Iowa.

Will the fire department retain their bragging rights and traveling trophy this year or will the police department snag the win?

This is the second year Boys Town Iowa has teamed up with local organizations and schools to host the competition that will benefit area families.

Last year, nine barrels were placed at different sites in the community, collecting 2,000 pounds of household and hygiene products — which is the equivalent of a fully-grown polar bear.

This year, more than 50 barrels have been placed in the community at 30 different sites. More information on drop box locations can be found online at

Organizations participating this year include Google, Mercy Hospital, Jennie Edmundson Hospital, Iowa Western Community College and 11 schools from the Council Bluffs and Lewis Central Community School Districts.

A representative of Team Red, Hoover Elementary hosted a kick-off event Friday morning during a school assembly.

Fifth-grade students in the talented and gifted program helped organize the event, dressing as different hygiene products and performing a skit on stage to help garner support and excitement from other students about the competition.

"This project encompassed creativity and put them out of their comfort zone," said Rhonda Leffler, TAG curriculum specialist. "It's an opportunity that they wouldn't have had otherwise."

Students will collect products all month. The class that collects the most will be awarded an extra recess. Students will also wear red on Fridays in support of the event.

"I think it's a great idea," said Dave Andersen with the fire department. "It's good public awareness and helps with the community."

Items needed include shampoo, conditioner, unscented deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, lotion, disposable razors, toilet paper, paper towels, Kleenex, laundry detergent, all-purpose cleaners, glass cleaner, rags and sponges, buckets, dishwasher detergent, bathroom cleaners, sanitizer, diapers and baby wipes, baby bottles and sippy cups, childproofing accessories, bug bombs and ant traps. Items donated must be full-size, new and unopened.

Boys Town Iowa serves more than 1,000 families and more than 2,000 children every year. The organization helps families and parents experiencing poverty by donating basic need items like hygiene and cleaning supplies to area families.

"Many of our families are suffering from drug addiction or alcohol abuse," said Patrick Garcia, community engagement developer for Boys Town Iowa. "In order to provide appropriate parenting to children — when we're helping families learn those skills — we also help them to have the products available to help keep the children safe and healthy."

The competition will continue through April. A winner will be announced during a celebration from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 4 at the Boys Town Iowa office, 1702 W. Broadway, Suite 17.

The celebration will be open to the public, and food and refreshments will be provided. A fire truck, police cruisers and the K-9 unit will be at the event.

"It's pretty neat to see how the community actually got behind this," Garcia said. "This week, more than 190 shirts will be delivered to community members and on the back it says, 'A community that makes a difference,' and I truly believe that's what happened this year."

first-year-foster-parentsYoung Couple Reflects on First Year as Foster Parents Texas
The Bueker Family
Thursday, Apr 6, 2017

When Kelli and Kevin Bueker, a young married couple, decided to say "Yes" to becoming foster parents a little over a year ago, they had no idea of the transformation they'd witness and the changes they'd experience.

The first involved a boy in their care who had suffered from significant healthy issues throughout his young life. When he was placed with the Buekers, he was in the 99th percentile for weight for his age, which affected him socially and physically. He was easily bullied, struggled to make friends, had a hard time paying attention in school and was unable to do basic childhood things, such as riding a bike or playing basketball.

"It's been incredible to see him, within one year, lose 40 pounds to become 'like everyone else,' as he puts it," said Kevin.

In addition to the weight loss, the boy now has a healthy diet and lifestyle. A year ago, he would refuse to go outside and play, but now he can't wait to do that with his friends. He also used to struggle in class, but now is trending toward the honor roll and is genuinely excited about learning.

The Buekers also foster two teenage girls. Kevin and Kelli want to instill in them what healthy adults do and what healthy relationships look like.

"It is very sad to realize that teenage children have never seen a healthy marriage or parents that go to work each day, or an engaged family that enjoys spending time learning and playing together," said Kevin. "They've never experienced what it means to be loved. Even though so much of what we model has been foreign to them, it's been awesome to see our girls gravitate toward healthier relationships with people, learn how to protect themselves online and expand their goals beyond what they could have ever previously imagined."

One of the girls has been accepted to college and will be the first one in her family to attend. Kevin said, "She is no longer content to live life like the people she had previously been surrounded by; she wants to excel beyond what anyone had previously expected from her."

Being a foster parent has not come without challenges. Caring for children who have faced tremendous trauma is not an easy task, but it has led the Buekers to become more compassionate and less judgmental. This commitment has really strengthened their marriage by providing the opportunity for them to learn to communicate with each other more effectively and improving their ability to be teammates. Along with strengthening themselves and their marriage, the Buekers also have strengthened their relationship with God. It is hard for them to see hurting children and not be "rife with anger," but they rely on prayer and counsel to address many of their issues.

The Boys Town staff also plays a huge role in making fostering easier for this family, providing training and being available 24/7 for support. 

Things that weren't possible a year ago for the children in the Buekers' care are now a reality. The couple has changed the trajectories of these kids' lives and unleashed their potential. The children have experienced such positive growth and love, and that all stems from two amazing foster parents who answered their call to respond to hurting children.

There are many reasons to say "No" to foster parenting. But Kelli and Kevin want everyone to focus on the reasons to say "Yes."  Saying "Yes" to fostering is saying "Yes" to personal growth, to a strengthened marriage and to saving a child's life.

paying-it-forwardPaying It ForwardNew York
Teen boy smiling
Friday, Mar 3, 2017

Every year, thousands of New Yorkers turn to their local churches for food, clothing and shelter during the cold winter months. The need is great, and these churches are always there for families that lack the basic necessities.

This winter, youth from Boys Town New York's Intervention and Assessment Services program stepped up to give back to their local community churches through volunteerism. 

Every Tuesday, from last October through December, girls from our Richmond Hill site and boys from our Dean Street location volunteered in the food pantry at the Love Fellowship Tabernacle in Brooklyn. At the same time, boys from our Bergen Street location helped out by cleaning and preparing The Greater Deliverance Cathedral in Woodhaven for weekend services.

One Bergen Street youth shared what volunteering meant to him:

"I really enjoyed doing community service. I helped out at a church that Bergen attends church at. Me and my peers were able to help with the cleaning and preparing the church for its next service. What I enjoyed most about it was seeing the good job that we did after we were finished. I also enjoyed seeing how much everyone appreciated our help. I was challenged when I felt like the task wouldn't be able to be completed because it looked like it would be a lot of work. I was able to finish it along with my other peers at Boys Town, which made me feel good about myself. I would volunteer again to do community service because I really do enjoy helping others. I think that helping in the community shows that you care for your community."

"We were so grateful to have the boys volunteer to help clean up for Sunday services," said Apostle Joyce James of The Greater Deliverance Cathedral. "Thank you for doing an excellent job and sharing your blessings with the church."

We at Boys Town New York are proud that our youth have paid it forward to their local communities by giving back to the Love Fellowship Tabernacle and The Greater Deliverance Cathedral. We look forward to future partnerships within the local community that will encourage the youth in our programs to think bigger than themselves and understand how that can positively impact their communities.​

monthly-career-day-teaches-teens-valuable-life-lessonsMonthly Career Day Teaches Teens Valuable Life Lessons New York
Career Day presentation
Friday, Mar 3, 2017

Planning for the future may seem like a far-off task for most teens. But for youth in Boys Town New York programs and services, the age of 18 can approach much more quickly than expected. That's why it's so important for them to plan for the future and learn valuable life skills sooner rather than later.

Boys Town New York recognizes this pivotal turning point from adolescence to adulthood and provides the necessary education for youth to succeed in life. As part of this ongoing effort, James Hill, Boys Town New York's Development Director, recently worked with the BTNY Young Leader Council's volunteer committee to set up a monthly career day for youth. The concept behind this event was to provide youth from the site's Intervention and Assessment (I & A) Services program with valuable information about planning for the future as well as life skills and future connections to help them transition into adulthood.

Since starting the project last September, Hill has held monthly career days at the Bergen Street I & A Home and hosted an assortment of guest speakers from numerous industries.

Every year, hundreds of troubled youth, ages 10 to 18, find help through Boys Town Intervention and Assessment Homes in New York. Many suffer from a variety of emotional and behavioral problems, and often have the misconception that they don't have anything in common with the business community.

Hill recognizes this misconception and begins each career day with a networking/ice breaker game to ease the youths' apprehension. While they enjoy pizza, guest speakers and youth walk around, meet three people they have never met before and find out three things they have in common with each new person. It's a great way for the youth to make connections with speakers from different industries such as construction, insurance, sales, business, the arts, fashion design and many others.

After the attendees finish their pizza, they move to a question-and-answer session during which an informal panel of three to four professionals answers simple questions about their career path.

"I feel this event benefits everyone: the youth by exposing them to opportunities they might not have known existed, and the volunteers who want an opportunity to contribute to the next generation," Hill said.

Brian Josephs, a recent career day speaker, said his top three favorite things about speaking to the youth included the opportunity to get them to think about their futures, helping them build confidence through networking and helping them learn the valuable life skill of handwriting thank you cards. ​

brooklyn-avenue-school-supports-btny-by-hosting-piggy-bank-fundraiserBrooklyn Avenue School Supports BTNY by Hosting Piggy Bank FundraiserNew York
Kids posing for photo
Friday, Mar 3, 2017

Through hard work and determination, elementary ​students from the Brooklyn Avenue School (24 Brooklyn Ave., Valley Stream, NY 11581) raised over $3,200 at this year's Piggy Bank Fundraiser! All proceeds will be used to support Boys Town New York's (BTNY) programs and services that serve underprivileged children and families across NYC's five boroughs.

The annual Piggy Bank Fundraiser began on January 17 when the school issued individual piggy banks to each of its 300 students. The students had one month to fill their piggy banks. On Friday, February 17, the school presented BTNY with the funds the students raised. A pizza party followed to show BTNY's appreciation for the students' efforts.

"The message here is there's a gift in giving," said James Hill, BTNY's Development Director. "Before the kids received their piggy banks, I asked all the children to raise their hands if they gave someone a gift during the holidays. Everyone raised their hand. I then asked the children to share how that made them feel, to which they responded, 'Great!', 'Good!' and 'It made me happy!' That's the gift of giving, and I think it's amazing that a school is instilling this beautiful characteristic into their students."

"The students are thrilled to support this cause," said Karen Kane, Brooklyn Avenue teacher and the head advisor of the Student Council. "Several of our students turned in their filled piggy banks the following day after they were handed out."

When asked how students were filling up their piggy banks, 7-year-old Samantha said, "I've been doing extra chores around the house for money!" Another student shared, "I found money in my couch."

When Boys Town announced it planned to use the money from the Piggy Bank Fundraiser to purchase books for kids in its shelters, one student asked, "Would it be okay if I brought in a book along with my piggy bank?"  (Of course, the answer was "Yes!")

The experience was truly humbling for everyone involved in the project, from the students who displayed generosity and dedication, to the Student Council advisors who made it all possible. 

"We feel the students were able to appreciate that others may be less fortunate than themselves and need a helping hand whenever possible. They were proud of themselves when they learned the amount we had raised," Karen said.

"The Brooklyn Avenue School is a very generous school," said Krista Kinirons, also a Brooklyn Avenue teacher and Student Council advisor. "Recently, we have had two families that lost everything to a house fire and the school community rallied behind them and supported them in every way until they could get back on their feet again. We are very proud of our community." ​

a-mothers-grit-and-determination-sets-positive-example-for-her-sonsA Mother’s Grit and Determination Sets Positive Example for Her SonsNevada
Brothers Erick (left) and Adrian have been inspired by their mom’s tenacity and love.
Friday, Jan 27, 2017

Her marriage was a fairytale until it wasn't. Infidelity, manipulation and verbal abuse had created a toxic home life for Claudia Chavez and her children. She had to make a choice: stay or go?

She chose to leave.  

Claudia mustered the courage to seek a new start for herself and her young sons, Adrian and Erick. With no financial support from her estranged husband, Claudia worked two jobs to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. It was an uncertain and demanding time, but Claudia didn't complain. Instead, she went to counseling to heal emotional scars and enrolled in parenting classes to be a better mom.

She also didn't hold onto grudges.  

Claudia wanted her boys to stay connected to their father, so she often hired him to babysit. This warm gesture, however, wasn't rewarded.      

Her ex-husband remarried, became a stepfather and then ignored Adrian and Erick. It felt like a second divorce to 8-year-old Adrian, and he lashed out.

Jealous and angry, Adrian took his sadness out on his little brother, his mom and his teachers. There were fights, arguments and tears at home and in school. His grades went into freefall. Adrian was so out of sorts and disruptive, school officials referred the family to Boys Town Nevada In-Home Family Services® for support and counseling.   

When services began, Claudia was apprehensive. She feared it would antagonize her ex and dash any hopes of reconnecting him to his children, said Boys Town Family Consultant Yoly Smith, who worked with Claudia's family. 

To overcome Claudia's resistance, Yoly patiently listened to the family's concerns and praised Claudia for being a positive role model. The family quickly felt more at ease, and for the next six weeks, they embraced the Family Consultant as one of their own.

Yoly taught Claudia parenting skills, including how to correct misbehaviors, set appropriate boundaries and use praise to reinforce and encourage her sons. Yoly also taught Adrian and Erick helpful social skills so they would know how to channel their feelings in healthier, more helpful ways.

The skill teaching had a profound effect on the family, especially Adrian. His daily disruptions at school diminished to the point where he went weeks without a single incident. At home, there was much less tension and far fewer arguments.

"Yoly showed us new ways to seek opportunities," remarked Claudia. "We've grown so much and have a new way of seeing the world!"

The boys are thriving and although they are not as connected to their father as they once were, they are happy. Claudia continues to work hard and be a provider. She recently began a new job that has expanded her professional opportunities, giving the family more flexibility and financial freedom.

With a fresh perspective and boundless courage, Claudia and her sons have reclaimed their future.​

boys-town-north-florida-names-new-executive-directorBoys Town North Florida Names New Executive DirectorNorth Florida
Marcus Lampkin
Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017

Boys Town announces Marcus Lampkin as the new Executive Director for Boys Town North Florida, an affiliate of the original Father Flanagan's Boys' Home, where he will lead the organization's mission of saving children and healing families in the Tallahassee community.

Marcus is a human administrator with over fourteen years of administrative experience and twenty years of professional experience in the human services field. Marcus has been with Boys Town for fifteen years and served in many capacities including Senior Director of Operations for the Boys Town North Florida site for the past seven years. Marcus holds a Master of Science in individual and family services and a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice with a minor in social work. 

"We are very excited to announce Marcus as the new executive director in North Florida," said ​Father Steven Boes, Boys Town President and National Executive Director. "Marcus brings years of experience and a comprehensive knowledge of Boys Town programs to the position."

Marcus has received numerous commendations for his outstanding service to youth and families and was nominated for and awarded the state-wide competitive Florida Coalition for Children, "One Man Can Make a Difference Award"  and the Department of Children and Families Outstanding Service to Clients Award for Palm Beach County. ​

boystowncalifornianightofhopeBoys Town California Night of HopeCalifornia
Boys Town California Night of Hope
Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017

​​​​Boys Town California's annual Silver Jubilee Charity Gala, Night of Hope, was held November 5, 2016 at the Resort at Pelican Hill. The silver tie event was held in honor of Boys Town California's 25th anniversary of serving children and families within the community. The Night of Hope also fell on the evening before Boys Town's centennial kickoff celebration.

The annual Silver Jubilee Charity Gala saw a large turn out and featured both a live and silent auction, all while showcasing the importance of raising awareness and funds to support Boys Town California's programs. Guests were able to enjoy a five-course dinner, live entertainment and dancing. Funds raised showed a 26 percent increase from the previous year and totaled over $180,000.

"We are thrilled with the results of this year's event", said Lawren Ramos, Boys Town California Executive Director. "The generous support displayed by our sponsors, from ultra-premium auction items to the outstanding setting at The Resort at Pelican Hill, really helped put us over the top in record-setting fashion. The evening once again provided us with an impressive platform to continue our mission of providing much needed assistance to at-risk children in our communities."

Boys Town California extends a thank you to the generous sponsors from this year's event: Zarley Family Foundation, SC Fuels, The Bollar Family, Hartmann Law Firm, Hoffski & Pisano, KCOMM, Miller Miller Menethe and Dr. Jody Ward.

hallofhistorynewexhibitoffersglimpseofmodernboystownHall of History New Exhibit Offers Glimpse of Modern Boys TownNebraska
Hall of History Remodel
Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017

​​Each year, around 30,000 people visit Boys Town's Hall of History to learn about our humble beginnings and the vision that Father Edward Flanagan had for the organization. 

Opening in 1986, the museum filled its space with memorabilia, newspaper clippings, an Oscar statue, and many more artifacts that showed what life was like for kids not only at Boys Town but also in America. 

This year, the Hall of History received a major facelift for the first time in its 30-year existence. 

"Over the last 30 years, we have refreshed exhibits every five to six years; however, this is the first major update since 1986," explained Tom Lynch, Director of Community Programs and the Hall of History. 

To design the new exhibit, Lynch and his team went back to its roots commissioning the design firm Eisterhold Associates of Kansas City, Missouri to do the job. Eisterhold were the original designers of the Hall of History and have a history of working on museums that involve civil rights. In fact, they have designed exhibits for both the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, and the Rosa Parks Museum and Library and Children's Annex in Montgomery, Alabama. 

Eisterhold set its sights on designing Boys Town's Hall of History in 1986 because of Father Flanagan's commitment to helping boys of all races and religions. 

"We were excited to bring this project to Eisterhold," said Lynch. "The same designer that worked with us 30 years ago, worked on the new exhibit, as well." 

In 2015, Eisterhold laid the blueprint for the design of the new exhibit. The new exhibit was built by McCullough Creative in Dubuque, Iowa and transferred to the Hall of History in fall 2016.  

The exhibit offers a glimpse of the modern Boys Town, educating visitors on Boys Town programs and issues Boys Town youth face today through interactive presentations and videos. Each Boys Town site is represented on a large map, and a whole wall is dedicated to the care we provide children and families through the Boys Town National Research Hospital.  

In addition, special artifacts, such as the Centennial Coin Bill signed by President Barack Obama, and a window from Saint Patrick's Church in Omaha are also in the exhibit. Boys Town youth also will display artwork. 

"The intent was to show visitors how our children live in the Village of Boys Town and across the United States. Coming to this exhibit, they get a feel for what it's like to be a Boys Town youth or family," said Lynch. "A lot visitors to the new exhibit have said they didn't realize the scope of Boys Town's work and are interested in learning more."

To see the new exhibit, stop by the Hall of History Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. To schedule a group tour, contact Tom Lynch at 402.498.1186.

boys-town-national-hotline-partners-with-nebraska-medicine-and-omaha-public-schools-to-assist-with-suicide-preventionBoys Town National Hotline Partners with Nebraska Medicine and Omaha Public Schools to Assist with Suicide PreventionNebraska
Your Life Your Voice
Monday, Jan 23, 2017

The Boys Town National Hotline® recently partnered with Nebraska Medicine and Omaha Public Schools in an effort to provide lifesaving information to more at risk youth in the Omaha community. Nebraska Medicine's mental health-related initiatives aligned perfectly with the Hotline's efforts within the Omaha community. By partnering with Omaha Public Schools, Nebraska Medicine and the Hotline are able to reach a large number of students across the Metro.

The partnership between these three organizations will provide Hotline materials such as posters, wallet cards, banners, pencils and many other small items containing the Hotlines contact information to 85 different schools across Omaha. Over 52,000 students in the Omaha community will be given potentially lifesaving contact information due to the large donation of $25,000 from Nebraska Medicine and the support of Omaha Public Schools.

"We are so grateful for this opportunity to reach the students of Omaha Public Schools," said Ginny Gohr, Director of the Boys Town National Hotline. "We are a national hotline, but Omaha is our home, and we want all of the students in Omaha to have our contact information in case they ever need someone to listen."

Boys Town extends a thank you to Nebraska Medicine for the substantial donation and to Omaha Public Schools for their support. With the help of these two organizations, the Boys Town National Hotline will be able to serve more youth within the Omaha community.

tom-lynch-awarded-prestigious-DAR-national-community-service-awardTom Lynch Awarded Prestigious DAR National Community Service AwardNebraska
Tom Lynch receiving DAR Award
Monday, Jan 23, 2017

​Congratulations to Tom Lynch, Director of Community Programs, Boys Town Nebraska, on his recent receipt of the Daughters of the American Revolution Community Service Award. 

The Daughters of the American Revolution formally known as DAR, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to historical preservation, promotion of education and encouragement of patriotic endeavors. This organization was founded in 1890 and has since grown nationally to 3,000 chapters with 185,000 members who dedicate their time and efforts to DAR’s mission that values God, home and country. ​

The Omaha chapter of the Nebraska State Daughters of American Revolution awards a National Community Service Award every year to a deserving recipient who values the organization’s main goals of historical preservation, education and patriotic endeavors. 

Kim Justus, the Current Public Service Director of Omaha DAR, is in charge of finding a member within the community whose values align with that of DAR’s. Kim then compiles information regarding their service to the community and submits this to the National DAR Committee for review. The decision whether the nomination is accepted is ultimately up to the National DAR Committee.

“Thinking about this year’s recipient and all the important things that the DAR does, I realized that Tom Lynch also has the same visions and values.” Justus said. “When I thought of his extensive work with the Boys Town Hall of History and his involvement with many different community outreach programs, I knew he would be the perfect person for the award.” 

Tom has worked with Boys Town for over 30 years and continues to preserve Boys Town’s rich legacy in the Hall of History.

“Community engagement has allowed me to reintroduce Boys Town to the Omaha community. Many people are surprised by the current Boys Town programs and are eager to learn how they can help the Home through volunteering and giving.” Lynch said. 

Through his knowledge and expertise, Tom and other volunteers have been able to maintain a large archive filled with nearly 100 years of history. This also includes many relics and photographs that are on display at the Hall of History.

“It was an honor to be able to present Tom with the national award for outstanding community service for his ongoing efforts in preserving history, honoring our troops and promoting education,” Justus added.

south-floridas-25th-annual-basket-brigade-serves-hundredsSouth Florida’s 25th Annual Basket Brigade Serves HundredsSouth Florida
South Florida Basket Brigade
Monday, Jan 23, 2017

​​​​Thousands of people in need have been provided with holiday meals every Thanksgiving for the past 25 years due to the generosity of many caring volunteers at Boys Town South Florida’s Basket Brigade.

This year, more than 100 volunteers gathered on Saturday, November 19, 2016 at Boys Town South Florida’s campus in preparation for the 25th annual Basket Brigade. More than 20,000 pounds of food was packed into baskets throughout the duration of the event.

The Basket Brigade is an annual food drive held by Boys Town South Florida to support families in need within the community. Every year, thousands of families in Palm Beach and Broward Counties are not able to afford the ingredients needed in order to prepare a Thanksgiving meal. Boys Town believes that by helping children and healing families, memories created during the holidays are also created in the kitchen where children and parents come together to prepare the Thanksgiving meal.

This event provides individuals with a basket containing a full holiday meal to enjoy with their family. The contents of the basket include: a large turkey, five pounds of potatoes, dinner rolls for the whole family, two cans of vegetables, a box of stuffing, and one can of cranberry sauce, one box of Jell-O and dessert.

Boys Town South Florida’s annual Basket Brigade is funded by both corporate sponsors and by volunteers who raise money. Volunteers are broken up into teams of 10, but all volunteers raise money individually through donations to add to the fund to purchase food for the families.

Every penny is used to help provide families in need with a Thanksgiving meal. Thanks to the help of the numerous volunteers who spent their Saturday filling baskets for people within their community, Boys Town South Florida was able to serve 310 families, an increase from the 250 families served last year.

Boys Town South Florida extends a thank you to sponsors and volunteers who helped make the 25th annual Basket Brigade a success!

changing-communities-boys-towns-south-omaha-officeChanging Communities: Boys Town's South Omaha OfficeNebraska
South Omaha Office
Monday, Jan 23, 2017

In 2014, Boys Town opened an office in the heart of South Omaha, Nebraska, as part of community initiative efforts outlined in the Strategic Plan.

"We went into the community and listened to see what the community needs and how Boys Town fits in as part of Father Boes' initiative to concentrate services in areas of high need," said Chris Miller, Director of South Omaha Program Operations.

Nearly three years after opening, the office is making huge leaps to help children and families in the high-risk Omaha community. Now a staff of 12, the office has a new three-year strategy to take their programs and services even further.

This three-year strategy focuses on establishing community partnerships, offering an array of services to children and families, collaborating with other organizations and providers for the benefit of the community, demonstrating a clear physical presence, generating new and innovative ways to fund Boys Town services, implementing data collection, and establishing a marketing plan.

"Our overall goal is to strengthen families, keep youth in school, out of trouble and safe at home," said Miller.

Both Miller and Regina Costello, Manager, South Omaha Programs, were brought into the South Omaha office last summer with the responsibility of leading the charge on this three-year strategy and growing the programs. Specifically, the two were tasked with beginning both Care Coordination Services and the Parent Connectors Program.

Care Coordination Services is an intensive, family-centered case management program designed to help families navigate through complex systems such as the mental health care system, school systems and available community programs. Through the Parent Connector program, parents can speak to a peer-parent from the community who has been in a similar situation and who can help the family navigate the path to helpful services.

"We spent time last summer at both the California and Nevada sites being trained on these programs," explained Costello. "We are now at the one-year mark since beginning these services in South Omaha."

That one-year mark has brought success to the office and has helped grow Boys Town's presence in the community. So far, the South Omaha office has helped 551 children and 221 families through Care Coordination Services, Parent Connector Program, Common Sense Parenting® classes, Behavioral Health Services, and a Community Speaker Series.

"Someone is coming in our door every day for help," said Costello. "That's why our location in the community is so important. Word of Boys Town's presence in the community is spreading."

The South Omaha office is unique to the community because it helps non-system children and families. This means that children and families are able to receive help before a crisis occurs and the police or State of Nebraska gets involved. "Helping non-system families is imperative to the community. These families now have access to programs and services designed for early intervention," Miller said.

In addition to its location on one of the main streets in the community, Boys Town also has a staff member whose office is located in South High School. "Our staff is easily accessible and it removes barriers for students or families looking for help," added Miller. "We are also looking to partner with the middle schools that feed into South High School so we can connect with families even before high school."

The South Omaha office also uses community events for outreach and to bring awareness to their services by setting up a booth or participating in a parade. Just recently, the office staff and additional Boys Town volunteers took part in the community's annual El Grito Celebration – a parade and festival celebrating the Mexican Independence Day and National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Both Miller and Costello agree that without their staff, the South Omaha office would not be as successful as it is today.

"The staff understands that work is outside of a regular 8 to 5," Costello said. "Our staff is very dedicated to the mission and a lot of them are from the community and are graduates of South High, so they want to see the community change for the better."

Going forward, Costello and Miller want to continue to spread the word about Boys Town in South Omaha and foster community partnerships. They do, however, realize there will be some challenges along the way.

"It's a challenge because we're on the front edge of the mission," said Miller. "We are living in the grey area and need to learn as we go."

Miller, Costello and the staff at South Omaha are excited to see where the office will be in the next few years and to witness firsthand the changes they can bring to the South Omaha community.

central-floridas-candy-cane-5k-celebrates-10th-anniversaryCentral Florida's Candy Cane 5k Celebrates 10th AnniversaryCentral Florida
Candy Cane 5k Run
Monday, Jan 23, 2017

​Boys Town Central Florida held their 10th annual Candy Cane 5k on Saturday, December 10, 2016 at Central Winds Park in Winter Springs. This year, over 600 runners took off at 8 a.m., on the five kilometer run through the park and raised over $15,000.

Runners brought out their best holiday running outfits in an attempt to take home the title of “Best Costume”. Although impressive, the fake beards, elf costumes, red and white stripped socks and even a Santa costume didn’t beat the best costume winner - Ms. Barbara Opper. Ms. Opper portrayed Mrs. Claus complete with a candy cane tutu. Teams also gathered in order to win the title of largest team competing. This year’s winner, the EEES Roadrunners from English Estate Elementary School, took home the title with an impressive 34-person team all sporting matching Christmas costumes. 

​According to Boys Town Central Florida Executive Director, Greg Zbylut, “This race has grown immensely through our community support and engagement efforts. We are blessed with a caring community that wants to have a role in making a difference for children and families.”

The Candy Cane 5k began in 2006 as a class project of Leadership Seminole and has since grown in number of runners who participate and in the number of sponsors who support the event. This year’s run was sponsored by Holland Pools, Anderson and Ferrin Attorneys at Law, Synergy Mortgage, Ti’Juana Flats, Yang Enterprises INC., The Canovas Photography, Charter Spectrum, Beers and Gordon Civil Trial Attorneys, Citizens Bank of Florida, Fun Spot America Theme Parks, Garganese, Weiss and D’Agresta Attorneys at Law, M Paul General Contractors, The Law Office of Timothy A. Moran, Orlando Health, Oviedo Car Care, Nemours Children’s Hospital, University Behavioral Center, Waste Pro, Your Oviedo Dentist, Krispy Kreme in Winter Park, Moon-Glade Photography, Oviedo Mall, Race Time Sports, City of Winter Springs, Kiwanis, Darlene Brown Team, First 2 Aid, Look Local Magazine, My House Fitness, Paramount Urgent Care in Oviedo, Synergy Mortgage Powered by The Mortgage Firm and Breeze Entertainment.

Throughout the event, there were numerous activities for the whole family to enjoy. In addition to the 5k, there is also a Kids Fun Run for younger children to participate in and a Kids zone complete with crafts and fun activities such as face painting, a bounce house, music and even a meet and greet with Santa. 

All runners receive a medal for participating in the run and the top three from various age groups received a prize in addition to their medal. The top times in the four categories were: Tyson coming in at the top time of 17:40 minutes for the male category, Elayna with 19:47 minutes for the female category, Angelo at 19:04 minutes for the male masters category and Tracey at an even 24 minutes for the female masters category.

Boys Town Central Florida extends a thank you to all the sponsors of the 10th annual Candy Cane 5k and to all the runners who made this year’s event a success! Thank you for supporting the children and families of Boys Town Central Florida!

foster-family-services-serving-the-community-by-serving-a-mealFoster Family Services: Serving the Community by Serving a MealNebraska
Foster Family Services
Monday, Jan 23, 2017

​​​Mugs of hot chocolate, grandma’s famous roasted ham, and your second (okay, maybe third) holiday cookie of the evening: Hearty meals with lots of sugary snacks in between is a staple part of holiday celebrations across the country. ​However, not being able to put food on the table is a harsh reality for families in need during the holiday season.

With this in mind, the Boys Town Nebraska Foster Family Services staff decided to go a step further during the holiday season and give back to the community on a more personal level through by partnering with In-Home Family Services to help a Boys Town family. On December 22, Foster Family Services generously donated a meal to a family in need just in time for the holidays.

This tradition began three years ago when Foster Family Services heard about a family in need and jumped at the chance to help the family and spread some joy. After donating the funds and purchasing the food, the staff picked up the holiday meal for the family. This experience ended the program for the year on a perfect note, so they decided to maintain the tradition and it continues to this day.

Matthew Priest, Director of Boys Town Nebraska Foster Family Services, says that this is just one small way his generous staff goes above and beyond when it comes to caring for the community. “While our staff is committed to helping others as part of their career at Boys Town, giving back on a personal level is just as important to us.”

Foster Family Services is a community-based program where professionally-trained foster parents provide care and support to children of all ages. While their incredible staff work with families in need throughout the year, this tradition is a great way to support families in the community who would appreciate this gesture from the staff. This tradition is just one small way Foster Family Services works to support other programs in the Boys Town's Integrated Continuum of Care®.

Thank you, Foster Family Services, for being an inspiration through your caring and generosity this holiday season. It’s employees like the Foster Family Services staff that maintain Father Flanagan’s vision and what make Boys Town® the unique nonprofit that it is today.

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