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Media Relations Specialist
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News From Across the United States

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boys-town-central-florida-helps-family-through-tough-timesBoys Town Central Florida Helps Family through Tough TimesCentral Florida
Da’Kendrik is thriving today thanks to his great-grandmother’s care and the guidance of Boys Town Central Florida.
Monday, Jan 9, 2017

Maxine Nelson had always put family first. So she didn't think twice when it came to deciding that she and her husband would become the primary caregivers ​​of their 10-year-old great-grandson, Da'Kendrik.

Da'Kendrik was nearly alone in the world. His mother had passed away when he was 6 and his father was never really involved in his life. The boy's grandparents also were deceased.

Maxine and her husband did the best they could to raise Da'Kendrik. But when her husband passed away, it caused tremendous financial and emotional hardships for the 83-year-old Maxine and her great-grandson. In early 2016, she lost her home of 40 years to foreclosure, and she and Da'Kendrik found themselves without a permanent place to live.

For nearly seven months, Maxine and Da'Kendrik just got by, living in sub-par surroundings. Many of Da'Kendrik's toys and Maxine's remaining home furnishings had to be placed in storage. The situation was most difficult for Da'Kendrik, who struggled in school as he tried to cope with his stress and anger.

The family's plight eventually came to the attention of Boys Town Central Florida, and Family Consultant Janae Moore began working with Maxine and Da'Kendrik.

Janae said it was very frustrating to see what Maxine was going through to keep her and her great-grandson together.

"It was a really difficult living environment and they basically had to live together in the same room," Janae said. "They also faced other tough situations like having to get by with just a mini-fridge. It was really taking a toll on both Maxine and Da'Kendrik."

Fortunately, Maxine got some unexpected help as Janae was starting her work. A neighbor named Chloe Battle met Maxine and Da'Kendrik by chance. When Chloe saw Maxine and the young boy moving in, she helped move a box because it was the neighborly thing to do. From that point on, Chloe was willing to help as much as possible.

Janae's first order ​of business was to contact local organizations that could help Maxine and Da'Kendrik find permanent housing. Once that was accomplished, Janae helped negotiate a reasonable rent. Meanwhile, Chloe contacted friends, families and churches about supporting the family with basic funds so they could get back on their feet. Chloe also recruited people to move and unload the family's belongings that had been in storage.

Besides helping with everyday living necessities, Janae also addressed Da'Kendrik's special needs.

"I helped Da'Kendrik by meeting with him weekly and teaching skills," Janae said. "I modeled positive behaviors like manners, staying calm and keeping my promises."

Janae also used games to teach the skills, which the youngster enjoyed. She took special pride in helping Maxine acquire health insurance for Da'Kendrik, who had never been to the dentist and had begun having toothaches.

As she built trust with Da'Kendrik, Janae could see him begin to show social improvement. She was able to arrange for a counselor to work with him on coping with the loss of loved ones. Janae also suggested enrolling Da'Kendrik in swimming lessons. Chloe signed him up and took him to the local YMCA twice a week.

"Chloe is amazing," Janae said. "She drives the family around, makes calls for Maxine when she needs help, you name it. Plus, she went to school meetings and acted as a tutor for Da'Kendrik twice a week. Chloe has never left them. She has been a key part in keeping them together."

Janae said it is truly satisfying to see the progress Maxine and Da'Kendrik have made.

"When I first met Da'Kendrik, he was struggling in school and was very angry, unmotivated and uncooperative," Janae said. "By the end of his Boys Town services, he was listening more to instructions, brought his grades up and just seemed to be a happier person."

For Janae Moore and Boys Town Central Florida, keeping a family together is a beautiful thing.​

boys-town-new-england-ouples-compassion-ensures-that-siblings-grow-up-togetherBoys Town New England Couples’ Compassion Ensures that Siblings Grow Up TogetherNew England
Siblings Shayna, Aryanne and Bryan (left to right) were adopted by two different couples but are growing up together.
Monday, Jan 9, 2017

When two couples – Candida Tavarez and Carlos Aquino, and Chelsea Guevremont and Mario Rosario Jr. – decided to become Boys Town New England Foster Parents several years ago, they had no way of knowing three siblings would one day bring them together as families and friends.

The story of how the siblings – Bryan, Aryanne and Shayna – found their way into the homes and hearts of the couples began in August 2013. Bryan and Aryanne, then 4-year-old twins, and their 18-month-old sister, Shayna, had been removed from their home and needed a safe place to live.

Both Candida and Carlos and Chelsea and Mario were contacted by Boys Town New England's Foster Family Services® program about accepting the children with the intent of keeping them together, if possible. But when it became clear that arrangement wouldn't work, a decision was made to do the next best thing: Bryan and Aryanne were placed with Candida and Carlos and Shayna went to live with Chelsea and Mario.

Both couples quickly realized that caring for the children was going to be a challenge because of the neglect all three had suffered. Bryan and Aryanne were extremely angry and lashed out by hitting others and trying to hurt themselves. Shayna had severe tantrums and nightmares.

As difficult as the task was, the couples resolved to do whatever it took to help the children heal and overcome the trauma they had experienced. Part of that commitment included preserving the bond between the siblings. So the families got together often for parties, playdates and sleepovers. As the relationships among the children grew stronger, so did the relationship between the two couples. Candida and Carlos and Chelsea and Mario continually supported each other and collaborated to help the children get better and thrive.

When it was determined the children would not be able to return to their own parents, both couples took the next big step for "their" kids. Candida and Carlos decided to adopt Bryan and Aryanne, and Chelsea and Mario decided to adopt Shayna.  

After a long, arduous process, adoption day finally arrived. On June 28, 2016, friends and relatives packed a courtroom to celebrate as both couples officially welcomed the siblings into their families.

After almost three years in foster care, Bryan, Aryanne and Shayna had not only found their forever families but also had been inseparably united.

Today, all three children are doing well, both socially and in school. Bryan and Aryanne enjoy playing on the same t-ball team while Shayna and Aryanne have taken a dance class together. The children and their parents also continue to have their family parties, playdates and sleepovers.

Two separate families, but forever joined by one inseparable bond.​​

better-parents-now-and-reunited-with-childrenBetter Parents Now, and Reunited with ChildrenTexas
Izabellah Allen hugs a stuffed toy she received at the Boys Town Texas offices before the Reunification Recognition Celebration.
Monday, Jan 9, 2017

Parents honored for work to get kids back from state

This article is written by Elizabeth Zavala. It was posted on on December 29, 2016.

Adrian Alvarado kept a keen eye on his six children as he and his wife, Monique Gonzalez, herded them into Boys Town Texas on Thursday to celebrate a special event: reuniting them all.

He and his wife were among 11 families — with 31 children in all — who attended a reception at the nonprofit organization that serves at-risk families with support and education. The Reunification Recognition Celebration lauded their hard work and efforts that helped the parents get their children back from state custody after circumstances that warranted their removal by Child Protective Services.

Alvarado, 31, and Gonzalez, 32, lost their children for a year when one of them was hospitalized with bruising. They had been living in a motel and weren't able to pay bills.

"They couldn't figure out where (the bruising) came from, so they took them away for a year," Alvarado said, adding that parental visits were limited and difficult. "We saw our kids 24 times in a year."

The couple attended parenting classes and went through counseling while their children were in foster care. Today, Alvarado is a business owner, he and Gonzalez have a place to live and they have been able to spend more time with their children, who were returned to them nearly a year ago.

When agency investigators determine that children need to be removed from their parents, the separation can last for up to a year while the adults get counseling, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and instructions in parenting, said state District Judge Peter Sakai, who heads Bexar County Children's Court Division and Programs.

The families were recognized with certificates and gift baskets, and each ​had the opportunity to pose for a family portrait as a keepsake.

"We have families who work h​ard, they go through a lot," Sakai said. "The key is to have the families step up. They did (the work) on their own. I'm proud of these families. "​​

Boys-Town-Helps-Foster-ParentsBoys Town Helps Foster ParentsNebraska
Boys Town Helps Foster Parents
Tuesday, Jan 3, 2017

This article was posted on on December 20, 2016.

Colin and Colby are two former Boys Town residents that perfectly exemplify the life changing quality of Boys Town.

The two children hit a very rough patch in their lives and were in desperate need of help, and foster parents. April and Joey Falk stepped up and became the foster parents of the two boys, but, as first-time parents, the Falks needed help of their own. That is where Boys Town came in, providing everything from training to supplies and even a visiting expert.

"Boys Town's been a huge support for us. I don't know that we would have taken on more than just the one child we started with had it not been for Boys Town" said April.

The help from Boys Town has really been paying off as the Falks, along with Colin and Colby are all adjusting really well to their new family. Joey Falk says it's been an experience like no other.

"It's amazing to see these little kids and see smiles on their faces and know that they are in a safe place growing up," he said. "And they feel safe here and we've seen then grow up right before our eyes which is awesome."

boys-town-a-beacon-of-hope-for-troubled-youthBoys Town: A Beacon of Hope for Troubled Youth
Thursday, Dec 29, 2016

​​​​​This story aired on CBS Sunday Morning and was posted on on December 25, 2016.

"There's no place like home." Rarely is that truer than this time of year. Our Christmas Cover Story is all about a very special home for some very needy children, as reported by Tony Dokoupil:

Right near the midpoint of America, ten miles outside of Omaha, Nebraska, there's a town that sits between childhood and whatever comes after.

"These young people are about to become citizens of the most famous village in the world," said Father Stephen Boes at a swearing-in ceremony.

In this town, almost every kid is at a crossroads -- and the goal of all the grown-ups here is to help kids leave Boys Town behind.

"I do solemnly promise … that I will be a good citizen."

Eighteen-year-old Chase Pruss, from Dodge, Neb., was sworn in here six months ago --  arriving, like a lot of the kids, straight from jail.

"I took the school safe," he said.  "Just for money. For Beer money. And gas money. And buy cigarettes."

Two more break-ins followed, and Pruss ended up arrested in front of his bewildered parents. "My mom was crying, my dad was crying," he said.

He had run through four different schools, stolen and lied.

And he faced 80 years in prison, ​until a judge helped get him into Boys Town. "I ​​had that mindset of, "I never want to ever ​put myself in the position where I could land myself back in an orange jumpsuit," Pruss said. "I never ​wanted my ​jail ID ​number to say ​who I was."

Andre Harris (right) in class at Boys Town. CBS News

Seventeen-year-old Andre Harris came to Boys Town the same way.  Nearly three years ago, back in Amarillo, Texas, he stole a car, and ended up in juvenile detention.

"I didn't feel like I was gonna amount to anything after that," he told Dokoupil.  

Frankly, he didn't think he'd amount to much before jail, either. College seemed out of reach. He can't remember hearing someone say they were proud of him.

Dokoupil said of Boys Town, "More felons per capita here than any town in Nebraska."

"Probably!" Harris laughed. "But we're all doing our best to change."

Almost every week here at Boys Town, new boys (and since 1979, new girls, too) are sent by social workers, judges and desperate parents. Most of the kids have been unable to live anywhere else without getting in trouble.

And Boys Town is their last chance.

"A lot of people would say they're bad kids," Dokoupil said. "Is that how they see themselves when they get here?"

"Some of our kids do," replied Tony Jones, one of Boys Town's "family teachers." "They see themselves as, you know, on the bottom of the totem pole."

And how do they change that mindset? "You show them that this is your decision. This is your life."

Jones and his wife, Simone, run one of 55 homes on campus. Eight Boys Town children live there like a family, alongside the Jones' three biological kids.

"Every single young man that has come through my home has now become a part of my family," Jones said.

This is a large part of what makes Boys Town so powerful; all 360 kids living here have paid Boys Town parents like Tony and Simone.

"It's a professional, full-time Dad, brother, uncle, cousin -- whatever my boys may need me to be at that particular time in their life, that, then, is who I become for them," Jones said.

Tony Jones and his wife, Simone, and three children share their home with eight Boys Town students. CBS News​

He began at Boys Town as a boy himself. He was born to a shattered family in Detroit. "I can recall my brother and I standing at a bus stop, and it was in the dead of winter. And we only had one pair of socks to share between the two us," Jones laughed.

But then a priest gave the Jones brothers a chance to change their lives at Boys Town. "It was a total transformation," he said.

Dokoupil asked, "Where do you think you would be if you had said no to Boys Town?"

"Oh, two places: I would either be incarcerated, or I would be dead."

Father Edward Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town. CBS News

The Jones story is typical of a hundred years of stories at Boys Town, which began in 1917 as Father Flanagan's Home for Boys. The most beloved clergyman in America, he created arguably the most famous reform school in the world.

Of his charges, Father Flanagan said, "His bruised and tortured heart and mind must be nursed back to normal health through kindness."

You may remember a 1938-Oscar winning movie about the place starring Spencer Tracy. But what you probably don't know is it's a real town, with a real post office and police department.

At about $65,000 per student per year, Boys Town is comparable to a top private college -- and it's mostly taxpayers footing the bill.

But taxpayers pay for prisons, too -- more than $39 billion a year nationally. Boys Town says it can help keep those prison cells empty, while nearly doubling the chance that these students will graduate from high school.

Dokoupil asked Jones, "How do you avoid coming in and being just another person telling them all the things they're doing wrong?"

"By telling them all the things they're doing right," Jones replied. "That's how you help kids change. It's being able to say, 'Hey, young man, you did a good job this morning getting up.'"

"It almost sounds like a joke."

"Well, you know something? That little praise goes a long way."

That little praise goes all the way back to Father Flanagan's ​founding idea: "There are no bad boys."

And if that all sounds too pat to be successful … well, the results say otherwise.

When asked where he would be without Boys Town, Chase Pruss replied, "I'd be in lockup." As did another.

And if that all sounds too pat to be successful, just listen to the results. Tesharr said, "I've been here for a short amount of time. But since my first day I didn't feel like I was in a place where I couldn't leave. I felt like I was home."

Of course, the Boys Town way does not work for every child who comes here; there are failures. But for Chase's parents, Dan and Trish, it's been nothing short of a Christmas miracle.

Dokoupil asked them, "Who was Chase before Boys Town and who is he today?"

"He was dishonest, disrespectful, a thief," said his mother. "And now he is the Chase that I always wanted him to be."

For Andre Harris, the change has been no less dramatic since stealing that car. "It's not even the same person," he said.

And how is he different? "My actions, the way I speak. I've grown up. I've become a young man."

He's a school leader now … a star on the track team … and he's just found out he's headed to college next year.

But first, he's headed to Amarillo for the holidays … a place he hasn't seen in nearly three years. It's a place that Boys Town has been preparing him for since the very day he made his grand theft exit:

It's home.

"This is my Christmas gift," Robert Harris told Dokoupil. "This is all I wanted!"

Andre Harris is welcomed by neighbors back home in Amarillo, Texas. CBS News
teen-celebrates-christmas-returning-to-home-that-changed-his-lifeTeen Celebrates Christmas Returning to Home that Changed His LifeNevada
Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016

This story is written by Jonathan Cisowski. It was published on on December 25, 2016.

The Boys Town of Nevada continues to make a difference for at-risk youth and provided a Christmas reunion for one family.

The program has given at-risk children and families support along with the education they need to succeed. A ​recent graduate stopped by to spend Christmas with those he say has now become his second family.

8 News NOW reporter Brittany Edney has the story.

View video

Boys-Town-Washington-DC-Helps-Riley-Family-Stand-TallBoys Town Washington DC Helps Riley Family Stand TallWashington DC
Terrina and her kids, Demaurice and Paris, have a brighter future thanks to Boys Town’s help.
Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016

Terrina Riley literally had nowhere else to go when she first came to Boys Town Washington DC.

But today, thanks to the help of Boys Town Family Consultant Kayma Freeman, Terrina and her family are on their way to a healthy recovery.

Terrina and her children became homeless after they were asked to leave Terrina's father's one-bedroom apartment due to conditions in his lease. With nowhere to live and no transportation, Terrina was at a crossroads. When her children's school attendance became irregular because of the family's situation, Terrina was referred to Boys Town's In-Home Family Services® through a program in which Boys Town Washington DC partners with District of Columbia Public Schools.

Freeman was assigned to the family's case and quickly tapped into community resources so Terrina, son Demaurice and daughter Paris could be placed in an emergency shelter. It wasn't the ideal situation, Freeman said, but it was an important first step in the Riley family's recovery.

"Ms. Riley was in a tough situation," Freeman said. "Being told to leave her father's apartment was rough on everyone. But when we secured a place for them to stay at the emergency shelter, it changed things. Since they had a place to live, she was able to get transportation for her son to attend school. That was the real start to turning things around."

With Demaurice attending school regularly, his grades improved dramatically. And thanks to Freeman's help, Terrina was able to look into renting a more permanent residence and apply for a job. She even obtained a learner's permit to drive and is hoping to get her own car.

Terrina eventually enrolled both of her children in a better school and sought services for her own well-being. Freeman also provided three bags of clothing for Terrina and her children.

In a note to Freeman, Terrina expressed her appreciation:

"…You have allowed me to be myself and because of that, I have matured a lot. It's kinda making me emotional because I wish I wouldn't have met you thru truancy because you're just enough to consider a good friend. Am attached to you in a way I don't feel alone now. Am glad you inspired me and my life, now with these clothes… I feel more completed as a woman. Even tho I am shedding tears… They are tears of JOY!!! I just wanted you to know you have made me GROW!!!"

Freeman says Terrina has lofty goals.

"Ms. Riley has said to me many times that she would love to have her own home where her children can run freely," Freeman said. "She would love to be able to go to school and work to support her and her children. She just wants to stand on her own two feet without having to wait for or rely on anyone."

With the compassionate guidance of Freeman and Boys Town Washington DC, the door is now open for Terrina to follow that dream.

addict-to-advocate-relishes-roleFrom Addict to Advocate, This Mom Relishes Role as MentorIowa
(Front, left to right) Kailee and Jada; (Back, left to right) Jennifer, Jeanette and Isaiah
Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016

​​​​​Her first experience with methamphetamines happened when she was just a teen. That encounter launched what would become a debilitating relationship that shadowed her life for years.

Jeanette dabbled in drugs throughout early adulthood, only stopping when she became a mom. Raising three children offered enough distraction and motivation to keep her sober. But drugs were never far away.

When Jeanette's marriage soured, she returned to meth and spiraled into addiction.   

Alarmed by her condition, a relative contacted the Iowa Department of Human Services. The children were immediately removed from the home, and the family was referred to Boys Town Iowa In-Home Family Services® for support and counseling.

When Boys Town services began, Jeanette was defensive and dishonest.

"I was anything but easy in the beginning," remembered Jeanette. "I was still in my addiction and didn't think people should be invading my space."

Overcoming Jeanette's manipulations and suspicions took patience and effort. Boys Town Family Consultant Jennifer Everman-Kelley met weekly with the family, supervising Jeanette's visits with her children, listening to everyone's concerns and showing compassion without judgement.

Jennifer spent much of her time preparing the children – Isaiah, Jada and Kailee – for family reunification. Jennifer taught the siblings safety skills and safety planning so they would know what to do and who to call if any situation became confusing or threatening.

As for Jeanette, Jennifer gave her the resources, encouragement and confidence to "change playgrounds."​

"Jeanette needed to get away from hurtful relationships and bad environments that endangered her recovery and instead surround herself with a sober-support network," explained Jennifer​

Former-Youth-Rises-Above-Mental-Health-ChallengesFormer Youth Pins Down, Rises Above Mental Health ChallengesAll, Nebraska
Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016

Nick Boes knows firsthand the pain and turmoil that comes from living with mental health issues. He also knows that with the right help, a person can learn to cope with those challenges and thrive in his or her personal, family and academic life. For Nick, that help came from the compassionate caregivers at Boys Town. Nick spent a year and a half as a citizen of the Village of Boys Town, Nebraska, where he found hope, healing and a new approach for the future. This is his story, in his own words.

My earliest memory of my anxiety, obsessiveness and some of the start of my depression was about the age of 6. I was already showing symptoms and unusual behaviors so my mom took me to a mental health professional. My parents were given some behavioral modification techniques to use with me and I was prescribed medication. They were told to bring me back in a couple of years if things got worse.

When I was 12, my parents brought me back because my anxiety and depression were bad again. I was given therapy and medication and things improved for a while. 

In high school, anxiety would come and go, but when it came back, it was bad. I managed it fairly well my freshman and sophomore years. The exercise from wrestling on the varsity team helped a lot and wrestling became a big part of my life. I was also doing well in school.

During my junior year, I had a real bad turnaround.

Even though I was a leader on the wrestling team and doing well in school, my anxiety was a huge factor in how I felt. I held in a lot of fear and anger, and I never told anyone about it.

My home life started to fall apart. I began to be abusive to my family, stole money from my parents and harmed the ones I love.

I tried everything in my power to defeat my crippling anxiety and depression but nothing worked. One day, I ran away from home just to escape; it didn't help, and I returned home.

I was 17 years old and my parents were really desperate to help me find help. So we tried a new doctor and new medication, along with therapy.

Things didn't get better this time. I thought nothing in my life was going right and I had a lot of self-pity. I was so anxious and always worrying about myself. It got so bad that thoughts of suicide began to creep into my head.

That's when my parents contacted Boys Town.  

At first, I went to the Intensive Residential Treatment program. After about a month, I moved to the Family Home Program.  

My Family-Teachers® (the trained married couple who care for youth in Family Homes) were incredible and I consider them like my family. I love them so much.

At Boys Town, I bought in right away. It was my chance to change. I got the help I needed from my Family-Teachers, therapist, teachers and coaches. Life got much better. I did well in school and ended up playing three varsity sports.

At graduation, I remember walking across the stage, so proud of overcoming all the adversity and troubles I had faced. For the first time in a long time, I could look my dad and mom in the eye. 

After graduation, I attended Concordia University. My freshman and sophomore years, I had a bit of a relapse with my anxiety and depression. But I kept telling myself things would get better and this would pass – and it did.

My sophomore year, I was a manager on the wrestling team when I decided to walk on to the team. I knew what to do to make the team because of all the skills I learned at Boys Town. Not only did I make the team but I earned a scholarship.   

I am on track to graduate in May of 2017 with a degree in behavioral science and psychology and a minor in sociology. I have rebuilt my relationship with my family and have the right group of friends.

Boys Town gave me hope and taught me that even though anxiety and depression will never go away, I can learn to accept them and live a great life. The key is to know how to manage them daily and ask for help when they become overwhelming.

I hope my story can inspire others with similar issues to stay hopeful and ask for help.

stuhr-announces-fantasy-of-trees-winners-for-2016Stuhr Announces Fantasy of Trees Winners for 2016Central Nebraska
A tree marking designed by Boy's Town won the “people’s choice” award during the Fantasy of Trees exhibit at Stuhr Museum.
Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016

​​This article ​was posted on on December 17, 2016.

A Christmas tree from the Wednesday Group Angels was named "overall best" in Stuhr Museum's annual Fantasy of Trees display.

A tree from Boy's Town marking the 15th anniversary of 9/11 earned the "people's choice" award.

Other awards went to: AseraCare Hospice, most creative; Hall County Historical Society, most traditional; the Liederkranz, best tree skirt; Islandaire Dance Team and ​Engleman Kindergarten (tie), best tree by children; Diocese of Grand Island Child Protection Office, best use of recycled material; Pirates of Grand Island; Tech Challenge Robotics Team 7-12 Grade, best tree topper; Grand Island Area Habitat for Humanity, best represents ​organization; Girl Scouts, STEAM Ahead, "proud and geeky;" Bockoven family, most unexpected.

Judging the trees were several members of the Grand Island art community. More than 60 trees were entered in the annual exhibit.

The trees will remain on display through Jan. 3 in the Stuhr Building. ​

yolanda-vazquez-talks-with-dr-robert-wingfieldYolanda Vazquez talks with Dr. Robert WingfieldWashington DC
Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Yolanda Vazquez talks with Dr. Robert Wingfield, Chief Psychologist of the Boys Town Washington DC Behavioral ​​Health Clinic. They discuss the ​organization and their mission to the community. They also discuss the 100 anniversary of Boys Town.

Follow Boys Town Washington DC on Facebook​ and Twitter.

Taped 12/14/16​

boys-town-saves-troubled-mans-lifeBoys Town Saves Troubled Man's LifeNebraska
Nick's Story
Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016

​​​​​​This article was posted on w​ on December 13, 2016.

At age 15 Nick Manhart was on a troubled path. It was a path his mother Karen had no clue how to handle. Nick made his way through life by doing many illegal activities.

"I never had a job or anything but I used to sell my prescription medication so I could get money to do things like smoke pot and shoplift stuff like that. So it was never, good times, it was never good," confessed Nick.

When his mother Karen found out about the drug dealing she made one of the hardest decisions a parent can make. She turned in her own son.

"I had to save him from himself because he was going down a road that was not gon​na be good it wasn't gonna end well," Karen said.

Luckily, for both Karen and Nick after time in the Douglas County Youth Facility Nick found his way to Boys Town.

"If it wasn't for Boys Town I'd be dead or in jail," Nick told WOWT 6 News.

While Nick is just one of the many young people that attended Boys Town he and his mother both know that without Boys Town their family wouldn't be as strong as it is now. ​

boys-town-choir-set-to-perform-before-symphony-show-gets-advice-from-the-prosBoys Town Choir, Set to Perform Before Symphony Show, Gets Advice from the ProsNebraska
Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016

​This article is written by Betsie Freeman, Wor​ld-Herald staff writer. It was posted on on December 14th.

It was billed as a master class on music.

Members of the Boys Town Voices sang side-by-side Tuesday with seven Broadway performers in the Music Hall on campus. The professional singers,​ in town for the Omaha Symphony Christmas Celebration, joined the 41-member choir on "O Holy Night," offering an audio-visual tutorial on expression and breath control and sharing a few thoughts about the song.

After that, in a revealing question-and-answer session, it morphed into a master class on life.

How to handle defeat. How to persevere. How to give thanks for blessings, apparent and otherwise.

The visit from the Broadway veterans was set up to help the choir prepare for its preshow at Thursday night's symphony concert. The group will perform about six songs, including "O Holy Night," in the Holland Center lobby, then stay for the Christmas show with other Boys Town representatives.

"It's an experience that most kids don't get," said Stephanie Ludwig, the symphony's public relations manager.

Ludwig said the symphony reached out to Boys Town in an effort to get additional groups for preconcert activities — something new to supplement the bell choirs and violin students who have performed for several years. It's the first time Boys Town has participated.

The students gave the pros a warm welcome with applause and whoops. When the performers joined the choir, several students were clearly awed.

Senior Shae Nielsen, 18, was wowed when professional singers Tiffany Haas and Siri Howard chose seats near her. She said she loves Broadway and plans to major in music in college.

"They were both in front of me, and I felt like I was going to fall over," she said.

When asked if they would like to pursue a performing career, more than half of the choir's members raised their hands. That surprised Haas, one of four headline performers in the symphony show who also has played the role of Glinda in "Wicked" on Broadway and in a national tour.

"That's not usually the case," she said.

The choir members — students in ninth through 12th grades — had several questions about what it's like to be a professional singer, actor and dancer. For each question, the students received answers that spoke volumes about the struggles they may face, no matter what path they choose.

They especially were riveted when the actors talked about how many times they had auditioned for shows.

"I got 72 nos for my first yes," Haas told the group. "If you want something bad enough, you have to keep trying."

And that's true no matter where you are in your career, added dancer Erin Moore.

Each student faced a fair amount of competition when auditioning for one of the spots in the Boys Town Voices, said Sierra Sanchez, who is in her first year as director.

The professionals also said it's important to take care of yourself and to be authentic.

"Don't waste time being what others want you to be," Haas said. "Hold your head high and like who you are."

They also stressed that a stage career means you sometimes have to be creative to support yourself.

Many performers also teach, judge competitions or find other jobs, said dancer Connor Schwantes.

"I am personally a hand model — that's my fun fact," he said. "You have to make money somehow. ... New York is expensive."

And Howard — who appeared in "Les Misérables" and "The Sound of Music" on Broadway — said she had a big lesson she wanted to impart.

"There's a fine line that's important to note, between gratitude and confidence," she said, encouraging the students to be gracious in victory and defeat. "It's not about being the star but about making art."

At the same time, she said, "it's also knowing you have something to offer."

The advice resonated with those who don't have stage aspirations as well as those who do. Senior Daemon Hug, 17, is in the choir merely because he loves to sing. His post-graduation plans include either joining the military or playing college football. Even so, he took a lot away from Tuesday's session.

"Everywhere you go, you're going to have to fight internal battles, and finding a way to deal with those will get you places," he said.​

5000-cookies-boy-thats-a-christmas-party5,000 Cookies! Boy, That's a Christmas PartyNebraska
Guests at the Christmas Family Festival
Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016

This article is written by Collin Ruane. It was posted December 10, 2016 on

Boys Town held its annual Christmas Festival on Saturday, featuring a wide variety of entertainment, including a visit with Santa and his reindeer.

Organizers were pleased with the turnout. "We have a large crowd this year," said Director of Community Programs Tom Lynch. "We really promoted it. We wanted the public to come and learn about Boys Town."

"We made close to 5,000 cookies and about 4,800 frosting cups and we're fully prepared to make about 250 gallons of ​cocoa," said Food Services Director Robert Tapio.​

boys-town-louisiana-raises-more-than-80000-at-reprom-eventBoys Town Louisiana Raises More Than $80,000 at ReProm EventLouisiana
Dr. Eric Griggs and Katie Osborne, ReProm 2016 King and Queen
Thursday, Dec 8, 2016

More than 250 Boys Town Louisiana supporters relived their childhood when they attended the 6th annual Retro ReProm event on Friday, November 4, 2016.

"The Retro ReProm is our signature event and our supporters look forward to it throughout the year," said Darrell Johnson, Boys Town Louisiana Development Director.

Held at Il Mercato, Retro ReProm treated guests to an event that recreated a multi-era high school prom. In true prom style, the crowd danced the night away to music performed by The Strate Notes.

The highlight of the event came when it was time to announce the 2016 ReProm King and Queen.

Each year, nominated New Orleans community leaders and celebrities vie for the "Crown" of King and Queen of Retro ReProm. Each dollar raised counts as a vote towards the King and Queen of the donor's choice. At the end of the night, the candidates with the most votes, wins.

This year's prom king was Dr. Eric Griggs, a physician whose mission is "to educate the community on how to live a longer, healthier and happier life." The crowning of prom queen went to Katie Osborne, a graduate of Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and who currently serves as Constituent Liaison for Council Member Greg Travis, Houston City Council, District G. 

The event was a success and always brings a good amount fun for a great cause. "This event enables to raise much needed funds for our mission while having a lot of fun," added Johnson.

The funds raised will be used towards Boys Town ​Louisiana's Continuum of Care programming. Thanks to all of the supporters and attendees who made this year's Retro ReProm a great success!​

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