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Boys Town in the News

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Kara Neuverth
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Lauren Laferla
Media Relations Specialist
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News From Across the United States

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bt-celebrates-100-years-with-time-capsuleBoys Town celebrates 100 years with time capsuleNebraska
Friday, Dec 15, 2017

This article is written by Jake Wasikowski. It was posted on on December 12, 2017. 

A big celebration for an Omaha landmark helping get kids on positive paths. Boys Town officially opened 100 years ago.

Tuesday morning, Boys Town filled a time capsule that will stay in Father Flanagan's office for 100 more years until being opened. It includes a key to the City of Omaha, Boys Town coins created by the U.S. Mint, and an ornament and wooden craft that were made by students who have learned through the Boys Town system.

It was started in 1917 by Father Edward Flanagan as an orphanage for troubled boys and continues to serve youth.

"It's amazing. Father Flanagan just seems like he is here every day with us. He said right before he died that, 'The work will continue you see because it's God's work and not mine.' And we really believe that, that we're doing Father Flanagan's work, even today," Father Steven Boes said.

Staff and alumni also walked from the old German-American Home to the current campus — it's the same route 200 residents took in 1921 when they moved.

Mayor Jean Stothert proclaimed Dec. 12 "Father Flanagan Day" to commemorate the occasion.

bringing-mother-and-daughter-togetherBringing mother and daughter togetherNebraska
Joni Wheeler
Friday, Dec 15, 2017

This article is written by WOWT 6 News. It was posted on on December 13, 2017.

Joni Wheeler loves taking time to be close to her daughter Destiny. The distance between them now seems small but there was a time when it felt like an unbridgeable gap.

"She was diagnosed with a number of mental health issues when she was six and so there were always behavior problems destructiveness and she didn't have any empathy. So she didn't know how to relate to others," said Joni.

"My relationship before Boys Town with my mom was constant arguing throwing stuff kicking walls not listening to her at all," said Dest

After years of struggle the family turned to Boys Town. Destiny entered treatment for six months and then spent a year in a group home. Destiny says it changed her life.

"Before I didn't know where I was going. I wasn't paying attention in school. I wasn't getting along with my family and I didn't have a lot of friends and through Boys Town they taught me how to be sympathetic and have empathy for other people and just getting along with people in general," she said.

It all payed off – today Destiny is heading for college and her relationship with her mom is much better.

"After Boys Town I was able to talk to her and care a lot for her. More than I did before," said Destiny.

"It's amazing. This is what it should look like, a mother and a daughter. So I love it," said Joni.

Destiny is now studying at UNO. Her goal is to become a physician's assistant.

bt-new-england-celebrates-the-centennial-at-spirit-of-youth-galaBoys Town New England Celebrates the Centennial at Spirit of Youth GalaNew England
Thursday, Dec 14, 2017

Every year Boys Town New England honors a person, group, or company that has gone above and beyond to help children and families, but this year the event focused on something a little different—Boys Town turning 100.

On September 29, 2017, the Boys Town New England Spirit of Youth Gala was held at the Providence Biltmore Hotel where 200 guests were in attendance to celebrate Boys Town helping children and families across the nation for 100 years.

The evening started out with a few words from Board Chair Lee Silvestre and Executive Director Bill Reardon, followed by Community Developer Marcy Shyllon who spoke about the new Community Engagement Project the site is currently working on. Attendees were also able to hear a first-hand account of Boys Town's impact on the community from Yefri Acevedo, a former Boys Town youth.

However, an evening of celebration did not stop there. Throughout the night, guests were able to participate in some games of chance as well as a silent auction. Guests had a variety of items to choose from to express their competitive edge such as Celtics tickets, a signed Boston Bruins jersey, and a large care package for your canine companion. The highest bid was on a two night stay in New York City and $500 gift card to spend on Broadway tickets.

With the help of incredibly generous guests and members of the community, Boys Town New England was able to reach their goal of $75,000 by the end of the night. "The money raised will help all of our programs, but more specifically will help pay for Common Sense Parenting and Community Engagement," Ashley Medeiros said.

Through generous donations and the kind-hearted spirit of community members, Boys Town can continue to serve children and families for another 100 years!

bt-marks-100-years-rebuilding-youngsters-livesBoys Town Marks 100 Years Rebuilding Youngsters’ LivesNebraska
Father Flanagan with Boys in 1942
Thursday, Dec 14, 2017

The Catholic organization founded by Father Edward Flanagan in the middle of the prairie continues to serve families.

This article is written by Joseph Pronechen, a Register staff writer. It was posted on on December 8, 2017.

"There are no bad boys. There is only bad environment, bad training, bad example, bad thinking," Father Edward Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town in Nebraska, famously said.

At first, some scoffed at his optimism, but his words proved perfectly true as Boys Town flourished and grew: So much so that on Dec. 12, 2017, Boys Town will celebrate its 100th anniversary serving children and families.

By 1939, everybody in the country knew about the Irish priest when actor Spencer Tracy won the "Best Actor" Oscar for portraying the priest in the 1938 movie Boys Town. But that award was minor in comparison to the tributes modest Father Flanagan received from scores of boys who went on to prove that, as he said: "There is nothing the matter with our growing boys that love, proper training and guidance will not remedy."

The founder's statement has proven true countless times during these past 100 years.

According to Father Steven Boes, who became the fifth national director in 2005, Boys Town has directly served more than 392,000 children — and families — from the time it opened in Omaha with six boys Dec. 12, 1917.

Success Stories Abound

One graduate is John Mollison, Boys Town Class of 1964.

"Boys Town gave me the stability to have a normal life," he told the Register. "Prior to coming to Boys Town at the age of 11, I lived in 15 different places, and my father was rarely present in the family."

But things took an upward turn once Mollison arrived. "At Boys Town I learned that with hard work I could do anything and that people could believe in me."

As a result, after graduating, he went to college, was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Force and flew a combat tour in Vietnam as a weapon systems officer in the F-4 Phantom. His last assignment was as commander of the 55th Support Group at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, before he retired as a full colonel.

Mollison married and raised a family of two sons who followed him into the Air Force.

"As Boys Town was there for me," he explained, "I made it a priority for me to be there for them. That is a very powerful lesson I took from my almost seven-year stay at Boys Town."

So powerful was his childhood experience that Mollison remains connected to the organization. For 10 years, he served as vice president for human and physical resources, and for the last nine he has been the senior adviser for alumni matters, working with hundreds of alumni from all generations and keeping connected with many of today's graduates.

"We share a common heritage and legacy and view ourselves as a very large extended family as a result of our common experience," he said. "Boys Town's life lessons stay with you throughout your entire life."

Fascinating History

On Dec. 12, 1917, 31-year-old Father Flanagan borrowed $90 to rent a home in Omaha to begin to help troubled boys. Six youngsters from juvenile court were the first residents. By the next spring, as the courts sent more boys, or people referred them, Father Flanagan had to move Boys Town to a vacant building across town to accommodate all of the newcomers.

Success from the start in helping troubled youth meant that by 1921 Boys Town needed even more space. So the facilities were moved to Overlook Farm, 10 miles from Omaha. Six years later, famous people like New York Yankees' sluggers Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig visited Boys Town.

In 1935, Boys Town was named an incorporated village and began a student government program. Young resident Tony Villone was elected Boys Town's first mayor. A year later, Boys Town became a municipality, with its own fire and police departments, post office and schools.

So strong were the bonds formed at Boys Town that, in 1942, with World War II raging, many of the graduates serving in the war officially listed Father Flanagan as their next of kin. As a result, the American War Dads Association named him America's "No. 1 War Dad."

In 1948, after 31 years as national director, during a child welfare mission of mercy to devastated areas of Germany after the war, Father Flanagan died of a heart attack while in Berlin at the age of 61. He was buried at Dowd Memorial Chapel at Boys Town.

"The work will continue, you see, whether I am there or not, because it is God's work, not mine," Father Flanagan had said. By 1950, with a major expansion finished, Boys Town grew to 900 boys. In 1974, the Family Home Program replaced dormitory living. Today, the home campus in Nebraska has 70 of these family homes. In 1976, St. Teresa of Calcutta visited Boys Town and was presented with the "Father Flanagan Award" for her service to young people.

A year later, what would eventually become Boys Town National Research Hospital opened in Omaha. By 1998, its researchers discovered the gene accountable for Usher syndrome, a condition that produces a combination of blindness and deafness.

In 1983, the model of "Boys Town USA" was developed to bring its proven principles to sites around the nation. Today's nine sites, counting the Nebraska home campus, are open in places such as Washington, D.C., Orlando, New Orleans and Las Vegas.

Father Boes pointed out that, last year, Boys Town USA directly cared for more than 30,000 children across the country. And to date, the organization's national hotline, launched in 1989, has answered more than 10 million calls.

Another Major Step

"The poor, innocent, unfortunate little children belong to us, and it is our problem to give them every chance to develop into good men and good women," said Father Flanagan.

That phrasing anticipated a step taken decades later, in 1979, when Boys Town received girls into the program. In 1991, Sarah Mohn was the first girl elected mayor. Boys Town made all the difference in their lives, too.

Kim Warner (then Kim McGiffin) graduated in 2004 from the home campus after she was sent to Nebraska from her home in Boulder City, Nevada.

"At first, for me, Boys Town was a place where I was able to run away from my problems back home. I thought that going across the country away from old influences and surroundings I would dazzle everyone with my personality and my vices wouldn't follow me," Warner told the Register. "I was wrong."

She described her experience: "Boys Town welcomed me with open arms and with loving certainty that I was going to do great things — all of me. They didn't say, 'Oh, you lie? Cheat? Steal? You have drug issues?' No, you leave those at the door."

Warner explained that when the "honeymoon phase wore off" and she couldn't help being her old self again because it was all she had known, "Boys Town was calm and loving, and yet held their ground and demanded better. They held me accountable when I did wrong or didn't do my best, and they did so without yelling or threatening."

She wondered how they could be so calm, relating, "My 'family teachers' didn't get worn down by my attempts to intimidate, humiliate, belittle or manipulate them to get myself out of working hard or to avoid facing tough issues. They stayed with me. They wore me down with love. I eventually was literally so exhausted from trying to buck the system that wouldn't buck that I waived my hands and said, 'Okay God, you win. I'll try doing what these people say. I don't think it will work, but I'm going to try ... just to prove them wrong.'"

She recalled how she then "tried to do it the Boys Town way. It was hard work — emotionally, mentally, physically." She remembered running in the snow — which she had never seen before — in track clothes. Boys Town pushed her beyond limits she never thought she could go, yet she did, successfully.

Warner emphasized how Boys Town instilled in her a desire and awareness that everyone should continually be striving to be better in everything, and that outlook helped her finish college and become a teacher and a good parent. She has four children and at one time also had two foster children.

"When I'm at my best in my marriage and parenting and communicating, that's Boys Town in me," she highlighted of her life-changing time there. She'd love to take her family on vacation to Boys Town to live and experience what she did, "to give them the amazing, life-changing experience I was so blessed to have. Boys Town is my home."

Ever-Fresh Flanagan Philosophy

Looking back over the years during this centennial celebration, Father Boes, who considers it an honor to follow in Father Flanagan's footsteps, observed how he sees the founder's philosophy working 100 years later.

"His love of the kids, his vision for a better system of care and his spirituality inspires me," he said. "Father Flanagan's unique genius was the ability to simultaneously engage his heart and his head to find lasting solutions to the social problems of kids in his day."

"The foundation of his approach is that he made room in his heart for those hurting street kids," Father Boes said. "He then engaged his intellect by examining Catholic theology and applying it to his situation. The Catholic Church teaches that God's grace remains at our core despite all the sins we pile up on our souls. This notion of 'Prevenient Grace' allowed him to create a radical new approach to troubled kids. In my time as national director, those same principals have guided the hope and healing at Boys Town."

Among those principles, Father Flanagan said he never thought taking in all races and creeds was remarkable. He said they are all God's children and he had to protect them to the best of his ability. At the same time, he said, "A true religious training for children is most essential if we are to expect to develop them into good men and good women — worthy citizens of our great country."

Father Boes observed that Boys Town "is unique in the U.S. because we not only provide innovative, research-based, effective care for kids, but we advocate for changes to the system of care." That includes "a focus on advocacy in order to keep kids first as they enter into the system of care."

Looking ahead to the next 100 years, Father Boes stressed Boys Town will continue to fight for hurting kids "using our head and heart. We will continue to make room in our hearts for kids. We will also use our heads to create and advocate for innovative, research-based and effective systems of care so that every kid in the U.S. can be healthy in body, mind and spirit."

Also in the next 100 years, sainthood is a prospect for Father Flanagan, as his canonization cause continues.

In 2013, he was named a "Servant of God," and in 2015, the diocesan phase of the cause was completed and sent to Rome.

In any event, what Father Flanagan said and proved over and over remains true at Boys Town: "A boy given the proper guidance and direction — kept busy and constructively occupied during leisure or free time — will prove my statement that there

helping-foster-parents-and-kids-at-btHelping foster parents and kids at Boys TownNebraska
Foster Parents and Boys Town
Thursday, Dec 14, 2017

This article is written by WOWT 6 News. It was posted on on December 6, 2017.

Being a foster parent can be a challenge, but there are experts at Boys Town to help guide parents as they help children.

Sharon Schwartzkop has been a foster parent for several years. When she started out she wasn't sure she would measure up until she learned she wasn't alone. That's where Marcus Johnson comes in. His job is to provide guidance and support to Sharon whenever she needs it.

"I couldn't imagine not having support from Boys Town. I couldn't imagine doing it without the support," said Schwartzkop.

Marcus says Sharon is a natural. He said, "It's the spirit of service that she brings. It's a joy to work with her each and every day."

Sharon says foster parenting provides a lot of gratification;

"I think the biggest gratification that we get out foster parenting is – you're gonna make me emotional when I say this – is seeing the success of the children."

Marcus has been there supporting her all along the way. He was so impressed that he nominated her for the Foster Parents of the Year award and she won.

"I was ecstatic and I was trying to not cry so she wouldn't cry but that didn't work out," Marcus told 6 News.

"I basically eat breathe and sleep foster parenting and I love to do it," she said.

And if Sharon needs help when Marcus isn't available, Boys Town will make sure she gets the support she needs. Boys Town provides this service to over a hundred foster families at any given time.

Helping-families-solve-problems-on-their-ownHelping families solve problems on their ownSouth Florida
South Florida Family
Monday, Dec 4, 2017

​​​​​​This article was posted on ​​November 29, 2017.

​ What does Boys Town do?

Founded in Omaha, Nebraska, in December 1917 by Father Edward Flanagan, Boys Town celebrates its 100-year anniversary this year. Originally a home for orphaned and wayward boys, Boys Town began accepting girls into its programs in 1979. Over its century of service to America's children, families and communities, the organization has brought life-changing care to those in greatest need, developed research in youth and health care that has led to improved, more-effective practices, and advocated for reform in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

In the 1980s, Boys Town expanded its locations and programs in order to reach more children and families. This expansion saw Boys Town affiliate sites develop in numerous cities across the country. Boys Town South Florida was established in 1991 to provide effective, compassionate treatment for the behavioral, emotional and physical problems of children and families in communities across South Florida.

How does your agency benefit the community?

Boys Town South Florida services take the unique approach of identifying and addressing family problems early, before they reach a crisis where children have to be removed from the home. This is generally more effective and less costly than placing children in more expensive programs, like foster care and residential treatment. It also ensures that families receive the right care, at the right time, in the right way.

When society fails to support vulnerable youth, particularly at critical times in their lives, it ends up spending enormous sums of money on the consequences of that failure – higher dropout rates, criminal behavior and drug use. In recent years, this cause-effect relationship has put a greater emphasis on reaching the very young child, a concept reinforced by brain research and the logical case for early intervention and prevention.

By identifying at-risk children early and providing them and their families with the assistance they need, Boys Town South Florida helps kids stay out of the social services system and stay in their homes, setting the stage for future success. When children can live in a safe, nurturing home, they are more likely to succeed in school and in life. With improved skills, parents and other caregivers can provide proper guidance for their kids and solve family problems on their own, while society can save millions of dollars on social services.

What is your agency's focus for 2017?

Boys Town South Florida will continue to promote and market the services we provide so more families have access to the help and support they need.

We will continue to grow awareness about our services and reach out to individuals and businesses that can help support our mission. This will enable us to provide effective, high-quality care to more children and families.

We also will promote the 100th anniversary of Boys Town as a national organization, and stress the strong connection we have as an affiliate site in terms of program development, research and evidence-basing, all of which enable us to consistently produce positive outcomes.

How can the community help?

We rely on the ongoing support and generosity of the community to carry out our mission. Opportunities to partner with Boys Town South Florida include:

-Donations: Monetary gifts of any amount help support our programs.

-In-kind gifts: We accept gift cards and certificates as well as household items.

-Event donations: Tickets to community and sports events allow the kids and families we serve to enjoy special times together.

-Event sponsorships: Individuals and businesses can sponsor and attend our events throughout the year.

-Volunteering: The time and talents of volunteers are always welcome.

-Facility use: We have an ongoing need for host sites for our Common Sense Parenting classes.


Changing the way America cares for children, families and communities by providing and promoting an Integrated Continuum of Care® that instills Boys Town values to strengthen body, mind and spirit.


Common Sense Parenting® (CSP) classes: Provide parenting advice and guidance that can be used by any family. The program's easy-to-learn techniques address issues of communication, discipline, relationships, self-control and school success. The proactive skills and techniques taught in these classes have helped parents from diverse backgrounds create healthy family relationships that foster safety and well-being at home, in school and in the community. Professional parent-trainers teach the courses.

Care Coordination Services program: Provides a lifeline to children suffering from behavioral and mental health issues by ensuring they receive care at the right time. In this intensive, family-centered case management program, Boys Town consultants help parents and caregivers navigate, access and monitor the services their children need. Boys Town is a core partner in the Children's Behavioral Health Collaborative in Palm Beach County.

In-Home Family Services program: Helps to keep struggling families together. Trained family consultants work in the homes of families to enhance parenting skills, make sure children are safe and enable families to solve problems on their own.

Parent-Child Home program: In partnership with the Palm Beach County Literacy Coalition, we provide the program to families with very young children. This home-visiting program promotes early literacy, nurturing and positive parenting.

Primary Project: Is available in select Palm Beach County elementary schools. Primary Project's goals include improving students' adjustment to school and enhancing their social and emotional well-being.

BOYS TOWN SOUTH FLORIDA, 3111 S. Dixie Highway, No. 200, West Palm Beach, FL 33405. 561-612-6000;

To view more spotlights on nonprofits, visit ​

from-trades-to-riches-profiting-from-past-mistakesFrom Trades to Riches: Profiting from Past MistakesNebraska
Trade Life
Monday, Dec 4, 2017

This article is written by Jim Clements. It was posted on on November 28, 2017.

Spray painting walls and hotwiring cars are not experiences most business leaders look for in job candidates. But a new focus at Boys Town is not only teaching at-risk kids how to overcome past mistakes but also to learn – and profit – from them.

Of course, helping at-risk youth conquer daunting obstacles is nothing new. This December, Boys Town celebrates 100 years of providing love and support to neglected children.

Many students come to our community because they have lived in a world without parental affection, without structure or boundaries. Many act out because they are bored and simply seeking attention; others have faced unthinkable abuse and neglect.

And while our overall mission of helping kids build happy, healthy and successful futures has stayed the same over these 100 years, the means by which we do that have changed with society.

Nowadays, a lot of kids are told their whole lives that they need to go to college and are made to feel inadequate when they don't have a shot. At Boys Town, many of the students grew up in environments where they never even had a voice telling them about college.

That's why classes teaching trades – like automotive, welding and electrician skills – are the perfect tools to capture the attention of otherwise distracted students while conveying some of life's most important responsibilities. Kids who used to spray paint in the streets can use their talents in a productive environment. As a more extreme example, I've seen kids who used to hotwire cars learn to fix an engine. We take their real-life experience and apply it toward a positive end.

New research has found that a college degree no longer guarantees a higher income. Trade school is seen as an increasingly viable option to fix the country's income gap, as well as an answer to the competitive challenges found in a world driven by artificial intelligence. 

When Father Flanagan started the school in 1917, places like Silicon Valley were still farm country. Today, they're growing and harvesting ideas. But the reality is that technology companies across the country – and the globe – do not have enough workers with hands-on experience turning ideas and drafts into reality.

What's more, companies need employees who not only have the technical capabilities but also have the "soft" skills of success: punctuality, work ethic, team-orientation and a positive attitude. Knowing a skill will help you land a job. But respect for others will help you keep it.

Trade classes help students uncover a talent they already have while demonstrating that they can have fun in school. Students have to work together to solve real-life, hands-on problems, not theoretical ones. Many of our students don't even realize that what they're doing – and enjoying – is a learning experience.

The lessons they learn spill over the class time – with kids behaving better outside of class so that they can participate in the class.

What's more, trades can actually help students in other classes where they may be struggling. I have a student who decided that math isn't for him, and yet can figure out all the angles in his head while building. That's called applied math.

Finally, students learn that there's an option to go to higher vocational education schools and that they can have a successful future, with or without a college degree. This option opens the eyes of many students and gives them opportunities they never even dreamed were possible.

Jim Clements is the Trade Instructor of Mechanics, Carpentry and Welding at Boys Town High School, Nebraska.

Ways-to-Work-Helps-Families-With-Transportation-and-Credit-Challenges-Ways to Work Helps Families With Transportation and Credit Challenges Nebraska
Wednesday, Nov 29, 2017

​​​​This article is written by Debroah (Van Fleet) Newcombe. It was posted on on November 17, 2017.​

Ways to Work is a nationwide program designed to help people with credit challenges become more financially stable with small, low-interest loans. 

Virginia Ayers, Program Coordinator for Ways to Work-Boys Town, says in the Omaha-Council Bluffs area, the program is co-administered by Boys Town and Heartland Family Service. 

Ayers says the majority of their applicants need the loan money to purchase a car.  She says the program's lender is Pinnacle Bank, and the loan maximum is $8000 at 6% interest.   

"And when they find a car that is good on gas, low on repair costs, hasn't been in any accidents, not a salvage title, then we can move forward to have the vehicle inspected. So, I have the vehicles fully inspected; I do the research on-line to find out if it's a good vehicle, and if it is good, then we move for​​​​ward with setting up a close with Pinnacle Bank."  

Ayers says being able to buy a car often enables people to move forward in their careers or accept a better job.

She says to qualify, applicants have to have meet certain income guidelines, have worked at least 20 hours a week for 6 months, have dependent children at home and have challenged credit. She says they also have to participate in a financial literacy class covering topics like budgeting and credit management.

For more information on Ways to Work-Boys Town, the number is 866-213-4239.​

Boys-Town-kids-design-ornaments-to-hang-at-White-House-treesBoys Town kids design ornaments to hang at White House treesNorth Florida
NFL Ornament
Wednesday, Nov 29, 2017

​​​This article was posted on

Ornaments by a local Florida organization will dazzle President's Park (White House) in Washington, D.C. as part of the 95th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting display. The children at Boys Town North Florida in Tallahassee designed ornaments at ART Town that showcase the beautiful, tropical waters that surround the majority of the state, with swirls of blue, gold, green and white, and garnishes made from shells and stones. 

The handcrafted ornaments will adorn one of 56 trees representing each U.S. state, territory and the District of Columbia from Dec.1 through Jan.1, 2018 as part of the America Celebrates display. 

"It made me feel happy to be selected to decorate my home state tree because people think kids in the system can't have fun," said Sha'Nautica Cody, 17-year-old youth at Boys Town North Florida. "At Boys Town, we get together, have fun and forget about that. I am proud to be an American and proud I can help celebrate the holidays in the capital city."

Art, Resources, Training (ART) Town is a Boys Town North Florida program that provides unique, innovative ways to deliver life-changing services to more children and families in the Tallahassee community. This program focuses on restorative care that can assist children and families with personal growth in a welcoming, therapeutic environment.

Presented by the National Park Service and National Park Foundation, the National Christmas Tree Lighting is one of America's oldest holiday traditions. The first lighting took place 95 years ago on Christmas Eve in 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge lit a Christmas tree in front of 3,000 spectators on the Ellipse. Since 1923, each succeeding president has carried on the tradition. 

For more event information and updates, please visit and follow the National Christmas Tree on Twitter at @TheNationalTree. Join the conversation online using the hashtag #NCTL2017. Through a partnership with the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks, Hallmark Channel will exclusively broadcast the National Christmas Tree Lighting on Dec. 4.​

knicely-done-heartland-family-service-honoreesKnicely Done: Heartland Family Service HonoreesNebraska
Wednesday, Nov 29, 2017

This article is written by John Knicely. It was posted on on November 16, 2017.

Every year, the week before Thanksgiving, Heartland Family Service, recognizes members of our community who are quietly making a difference.

The annual Salute to Families was held on Thursday at Happy Hollow Country Club.

Sean and Anne Rich have faced challenges with their family. Their fourth child was born with Down syndrome, a hole in her heart and pulmonary hypertension. Today that little girl is healthy and happy.

Sean and Anne also adopted another daughter in 2015, who was born with gastroschisis. They were honored with the Challenged and Successful award.

Tony and Simone Jones have been employed at Boys Town for 20 years and have three biological children. Over the years they have worked with more than 200 children and families. They were honored with the Commitment to Family award.

The Community Service award was presented to Dr. Viv and John Ewing. John served on the Omaha Police Department and currently is the Douglas County Treasurer. Viv is the VP of Human Resources at Nebraska Families Collaborative. Their daughters,

Christina and Alexandra, also have extensive community service.

Scott and Karla Cassels were honored with the Leadership Family award. Together they have helped with many causes in the Omaha community. Some of the organizations they have contributed to included the Joslyn Museum, Heartland Family Service and Creighton Prep. Karla is also a board member of Friends Forever with the Nebraska Humane Society.

The Family Advocate award was presented to Penny Parker, Executive Director of Completely Kids. Penny has headed the organization for the last 25 years, focusing on children living in poverty and giving them hope.

Penny survived serious challenges from two strokes she suffered at age 25, one of which paralyzed her left side.

"You know it's interesting when you're 25 years old and you have a stroke that is totally unexpected," she said in an interview with WOWT 6 News.

Heartland Family Service with well deserved honors for members of our community.

Knicely Done!

tadlock-roofing-owner-falling-for-families-this-giving-tuesday-aspxTadlock Roofing Owner “Falling for Families” This Giving Tuesday!North Florida
Tadlock Logo
Wednesday, Nov 22, 2017

Tadlock Roofing is matching up to $10,000 in donations to Boys Town North Florida this Giving Tuesday. If they meet their goal, owner Dale Tadlock will jump out of an airplane! Make your donation now!

A strong community member and long-time Boys Town North Florida supporter, Tadlock Roofing is a company focused on family and taking care of those that need it the most. Read more about this great community company.

We are so grateful for this opportunity and we ask for your help in reaching our $10,000 goal for Giving Tuesday on Tuesday, November 28. With Tadlock Roofing's pledge, that will be $20,000 for the children and families of Boys Town North Florida. What a great way to kick off the holidays!

nf-family-feachers-lend-a-helping-handNorth Florida Family-Teachers Lend a Helping HandNorth Florida
Family Teachers
Monday, Nov 13, 2017

Trinity and Misty Mackley have been Family-Teachers at Boys Town North Florida for more than seven years. Throughout their careers, they have continuously gone above and beyond to help the children they serve in the North Florida community. Their helping spirit doesn't stop at the children they serve; they also go out of their way to assist families, additional staff members and even help out around campus as needed.

"The Mackleys are an amazing family who have sacrificed so much to help children in need," Bethany Lacey, Senior Director of Program Operations said.

Trinity is considered the "go-to" person when something goes wrong on campus. You can often find him putting his handy skills to work on a broken AC, repairing a window and supporting emergency maintenance needs for homes across campus. Misty is known as a valuable resource to new Family-Teachers. She is always willing to help out and provide them with guidance when dealing with difficult youth behavior.

The Mackleys also play a huge role in North Florida's annual Carr Allison Smoke-Off. Every year, Trinity grills all night to ensure that all attendees have plenty of delicious slow cooked bar-b-que to eat.

"Trinity stays up all night cooking for our annual BBQ cook-off," Lacey said. "When I say all night, I mean he literally starts cooking the night before and stays up to ensure it cooks properly and safely throughout the night."

In addition to providing a helping hand, the Mackleys also care immensely for the families they serve. Recently, they went out of their way to support a father as he worked to be reunited with his three children. His children were living at Boys Town at the time due to the living conditions at their home. After sitting vacant for a year, the house needed a deep clean and numerous repairs in order for his children to be approved to go home. The Mackleys took a group of boys from campus to help with the cleanup and repairs.

"Trinity used his high energy and labor but also his humor to keep the youth engaged and not to embarrass the family," said Lacey. "This allowed them to keep their dignity during the whole process."

Shortly after helping to make the father's home livable, Misty reached out to a former youth to invite him to their home for Easter dinner. The Mackleys welcomed him into their celebration and he was able to spend the afternoon with his former Family-Teachers and friends. On the drive back to drop the youth off, they stopped at the father's house and brought him a plate of food.

"I love this story because I think it is a beautiful picture of God's love to show the children how their father is being loved, valued, and respected, and supported by their Family-Teachers on his journey to healing," Lacey said. "This not only touched our team here in North Florida, but also the other youth. It was a reminder to them that they will always be part of the Boys Town family even after they age-out or move back home."

latoya-davenport-named-40-under-40-on-legacy-power-2017-listLaToya Davenport Named 40 under 40 on Legacy Power 2017 ListSouth Florida
LaToya Davenport
Tuesday, Nov 7, 2017

LaToya Davenport, Boys Town South Florida Director of Program Support Services, was recently honored on Legacy Magazines' 40 Under 40 list of recognized professionals. Over 200 nominations were submitted from across South Florida and 40 individuals who have made a significant impact in their professional careers and local community were chosen for the honor.

Legacy Magazine was founded in 2004 as the premier publication for South Florida's black influencers and affluences. This award recognizes leaders who are key change makers in their communities, bring new energy and advance South Florida as a center for diverse ideas and innovations.

"My nomination described my 13 years of professional work experience and contributions I've made across the state of Florida within the child welfare field, and my volunteer work with numerous community service organizations." LaToya said.

LaToya was nominated by Dr. Wesley Mills, M.D. of Mills Primary Care & Sports Medicine, a former colleague and close friend. The two served on the National Urban League Young Professionals Network Board of Directors together and their professional experience helping young professionals prompted Dr. Mills to nominate LaToya. The nominations were ultimately reviewed and honorees were chosen by the CEO of Legacy MIA Media Group, Dexter Bridgeman and the Editor in Chief, Russell Motley.

"LaToya has demonstrated tremendous growth professionally and personally over the last 13 years. She not only makes extraordinary contributions daily in her role as the Director of Program Support Services for Boys Town, but she also willingly shares her gifts, talents, keen-eye and expertise with others in her local community and throughout Florida." The nomination reads. "LaToya is always volunteering whether it's through her job's numerous community fundraising activities, mentoring youth through her sorority and the Urban League or consulting with or providing consultation services to other non-profits to ensure excellence on every level."

Davenport contributes much of her professional success to her current role as Boys Town South Florida Director of Program Support Services. During her time at Boys Town, LaToya has had many leadership opportunities including her participation in the Nonprofit First Rising Leader Program and opportunities to attend and present at varies conferences.

"Boys Town has provided me with numerous leadership development opportunities," LaToya said. "This position has also allowed me to network and build professional relationships across the entire state of Florida and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to work for such an amazing organization that allows me to do work I am very passionate about."

Legacy held an award event on Friday, October 6, 2017 at the Hilton Miami Airport in Miami, Florida. The events theme was "Honoring South Florida's 2017 40 Under 40 Black Leaders of Today and Tomorrow." Some of the honorees, including LaToya, were selected to participate in a photoshoot and be featured on the front cover of the magazine.

"I am honored to be selected alongside other young and elite professional leaders in our community from CEO's and business owners to judges, lawyers, doctors, etc." Davenport said.  "It was such a humbling experience to be recognized for the years of hard work and dedication I have given to my career and to my community. Our success comes not so much from what we do (our job), but how well we do it (our passion for our job)."

boys-town-central-florida-honors-one-of-boys-towns-biggest-fansBoys Town Central Florida Honors One of Boys Town’s Biggest Fans at Golf ClassicCentral Florida
Boys Town Central Florida Honors One of Boys Town’s Biggest Fans at Golf Classic
Wednesday, Nov 1, 2017

​For the past 12 years, Boys Town Central Florida and Holland Pools & Spas have joined together to put on the Demetree Golf Classic, to raise money and bring awareness to a terrific cause. This year however, the event hit even closer to home for both Boys Town and Holland Pools. "This year we honored Mike Holland, former owner and Board Member who passed in May of this year," said Tabitha Talbott, Donor Relations Specialist.

Mike Holland served as a member of the Boys Town Central Florida board for six years and was lending a helping hand since 2004. He and his wife's company, Holland Pools & Spas, first started getting involved with Boys Town through sponsoring local events, such as golf tournaments and the Christmas Candy Cane 5K. Mike loved helping out in the community, especially Boys Town, and would do anything he could to help make sure children were given the opportunity to have a happy life. "Mike was never a person to say no. He was always willing to help in any way, even during those times when he was battling his health, he was there," said Greg Zyblut, Boys Town Central Florida Executive Director.

Friends of Holland Pools and community businesses in the Central Florida area came out to the Demetree Golf Classic on October 6, 2017, to celebrate Mike Holland and an organization he was so passionate about.  

The event had 97 registered golfers who could participate in several competitions such as a hole-in-one tournament, putting contest, and the longest drive. There was also a chance for golfers to put their name in a raffle for small items or bid on a $3,500 diamond pendant, where the winners were then called out by special guest MC and local news anchor, Greg Warmouth.

Toward the end of the event, a memorable moment took place for those who were close to Mike Holland, as Greg Zbylut presented Gloria Holland, Mike's wife, with a memorial canvas honoring her husband. "We will miss him and never forget him for his generosity. We look forward to working with the Holland family to keep Mike's work moving forward," said Zyblut.

Through the Demetree Golf Classic, Boys Town Central Florida not only raised $26,000 for children and families, but showed Mike's family how thankful they were of his caring gestures and kind heart.

Boys-Town-receives-amazing-supportBoys Town receives 'amazing support'Nebraska
Wednesday, Oct 25, 2017

This was published on​ on October 22, 2017.

We would like to thank the Grand Island community for its amazing support of Boys Town at a recent event celebrating our 100th anniversary as a national organization.

On Oct. 5, Boys Town Central Nebraska presented a screening of the 1938 film classic, Boys Town. The Grand Theatre Foundation generously provided the perfect setting for the event.

Brent Linder, owner of The Necropolis Group, donated some proceeds from his cash bar to Boys Town and also helped sweep the sidewalks before the event, served food and vacuumed afterwards. Sherena Anson from the Chocolate Bar provided hors d'oeuvres for our guests, and Alan Usher from B.I.G. Limousine treated staff and Advisory Board members to a limo ride to and from the event.

Guests enjoyed the red carpet treatment, courtesy of Julie Morris of Blue Stripe Photography, including photos with a life-size Oscar named "Cas," provided by Awards Plus. Hy-Vee donated candy and the Grand Island Senior High School orchestra, directed by Kelly Coslet, provided music before the movie.

The Best Actor Oscar won by Spencer Tracy for his portrayal of Boys Town's founder, Father Edward Flanagan, was on hand at the screening thanks to the Boys Town Hall of History in Omaha, so guests could have their picture taken with it.

Proceeds from this event will help us remodel the kitchen of our Grand Island shelter, which has been serving youth since 1989.

Special recognition to Tony Wald of Toba Inc., whose $10,000 commitment to the project reflects the community's concern for its kids. Any donation will help us provide home-cooked meals for the youth in our care.

To support our shelter, please call Stan Kontogiannis at (402) 315-0156 or email him at

Again, thank you Grand Island for your support.

Megan Andrews
​3230 Wildwood Drive

​​​​​Boys Town Award

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