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

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

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News From Across the United States

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during-wwII-boys-town-housed-japanese-americans-escaping-forced-internmentNewDuring WWII, Boys Town housed Japanese-Americans escaping forced internment. The homes are coming down, but the story enduresNebraska
Japanese Americans
Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

This article is written by Blake Ursch, World-Herald staff writer. It was published on Omaha.com  on June 26, 2017.

Until recently, a handful of small, white homes surrounded a tree-shaded cul-de-sac amid farmland west of Boys Town — a picture of the midcentury American Dream.

The scene, now visible to those driving near 144th Street and West Dodge Road, looks very different today. Trees are now stumps, heaped in the middle of the street. The homes have been reduced to piles of concrete, splintered wood and twisted metal. Some are leveled entirely, and others are smoldering ruins after controlled burns conducted last week by the Boys Town Fire Department.

The houses and surrounding buildings are giving way to a $1.2 billion entertainment, residential and retail district, currently being developed by Noddle Cos. Some pieces of the other structures will be incorporated into the new development. But the homes are to be cleared.

They were simple dwellings built for simple reasons. The homes were completed in the early 1940s, meant to house extra hands who would be needed to work the farm as Boys Town grew. In later years, they were home to children and caregivers on campus. After a time, they stood empty.

But hidden in their past is another story. Decades ago, shortly after they were finished, these homes would come to represent something important — security, comfort, welcome — for a group of people who had all three taken from them.

During World War II, some of these houses sheltered Japanese-Americans escaping forced internment on the West Coast. They came here at the urging of legendary Boys Town founder Father Edward Flanagan, who found them jobs on campus or helped them establish new lives in cities outside of Omaha.

In total, more than 200 relocated Japanese-Americans spent time at Boys Town during the war, said Tom Lynch, director of community programs at Boys Town. Some were just passing through, moving on to other opportunities. About 30 stayed on campus, living and working as barbers, bus drivers, farmhands, typists and gardeners.

After the war, some remained at Boys Town or settled elsewhere in Omaha. Their children and grandchildren still live here today.

"Boys Town was good to (my father) and our family, so we just stayed there," said Roger Oshima, 61. His father, Mike Oshima, came to Boys Town during the war and worked there in various roles — a carpenter, a locksmith, captain of the fire department — for more than 50 years.

But Mike Oshima had a life before he came here. He was a commercial fisherman in Long Beach, California.

Then, on Dec. 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. And Mike Oshima's life, along with those of about 120,000 other Japanese-Americans on the West Coast, would change forever.

***

"Instructions to all persons of Japanese Ancestry," begins a flyer dated May 3, 1942. "Pursuant to the provisions of Civilian Exclusion Order No. 33 ... all persons of Japanese Ancestry, both alien and non-alien will be evacuated from the above area by 12 o'clock noon, P.W.T. Saturday, May 9, 1942."

The forced internment of Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast was signed into law by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on Feb. 19, 1942. Those affected were moved to temporary assembly centers, and later to 10 War Relocation Camps in seven states, allowed to bring only what they could carry. Families were registered and given tags to identify themselves and their possessions.

Mike Oshima and his family were moved to the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California. In later years, he never talked much about his experience, his son said. When he did, he spoke of having his fishing vessels confiscated and of knowing he would most likely never return to his home in California. Before he left for Manzanar, he later said, he grabbed an ax, entered his home and destroyed the place.

In Los Angeles, James and Margaret Takahashi had begun to worry.

"After Pearl Harbor ... people were getting angrier. You kept hearing awful rumors. You heard that people were getting their houses burned down. And we were afraid that those things might happen to us," Margaret later wrote.

The family, including the couple's three children, would be forced to an overcrowded, makeshift detention center at the Santa Anita racetrack in Arcadia, California. Eventually, they were moved to a camp in Amache, Colorado.

For many families, it was an agonizing, confusing experience.

"We didn't feel Japanese. We felt American. That was the way we were raised," Margaret Takahashi wrote.

Stories like these didn't sit well with the priest in Omaha.

"I see no disaster threatening us because of any particular race, creed or color," Flanagan said around this time. "But I do see danger for all in an ideology which discriminates against anyone politically or economically because he or she was born into the 'wrong' race, has skin of the 'wrong' color or worships at the 'wrong' altar."

And so, as the internment began, Flanagan began to work with a Catholic organization in Los Angeles, the Maryknoll Fathers, to bring people out of the internment camps to Boys Town. His motives were practical as much as they were altruistic: Many on his staff had left to join the war effort, and Flanagan needed new workers to oversee the 400 boys on campus.

He wrote letters to the War Relocation Authority, outlining his open positions. To secure their release, Flanagan had to prove that any Japanese-Americans at Boys Town would be legitimately employed, and therefore supervised.

"They were basically on parole," Lynch said.

On an order form issued by the relocation department for a farmhand, Flanagan lists housing available: "If man is married, there will be an eight-room completely modern house. Electricity and water bills will be paid for. His salary will be $100 per month."

The homes described, those currently being demolished, were brand-new, Lynch said. And they may have seemed like palaces to someone coming from Manzanar, where detainees slept in stiflingly hot barracks, or from Santa Anita, where there were 30 people to every one shower.

***

By the end of 1943, there were 10 Japanese-Americans living at Boys Town. More would come later.

Mike Oshima arrived in Omaha in 1944. The previous year, he had seen an advertisement for a laborer position and persuaded camp authorities to recommend him to Flanagan.

The Takahashis also arrived after James wrote to Flanagan. James, a professional gardener and landscaper, was made supervisor of the grounds. He wrote back to other Manzanar detainees and, with Flanagan's help, brought 20 others to Boys Town.

Not everyone supported Flanagan's efforts. One of the biggest critics was Los Angeles Mayor Fletcher Bowron.

Bowron thought one man in particular was too dangerous to be let out of the camps. That man, Patrick Okura, was a psychologist who had been a personnel examiner for the City of Los Angeles before being forced out of a job and into a filthy room at Santa Anita. Newspapers accused Okura of being a spy.

Flanagan wrote to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover about Okura's case: "Either these people are guilty of subversive activities ... or they are not. If not — they are trying to be decent American citizens."

Okura eventually was allowed to go to Boys Town and helped more than 200 more detainees leave the internment camps.

Though many arrived at Flanagan's campus, only a few dozen stayed. Those that did were sheltered, somewhat, from the racial tensions that were flaring in other parts of the country. They celebrated weddings, like that of Ray and Barbara Uchiyamada in 1944. They tended victory gardens. The boys who exhibited prejudice against their new neighbors, Lynch said, were quickly reprimanded.

Off campus, Omaha generally was more tolerant of Japanese-Americans than other parts of the country at the time, said Kimi Takechi, 99, who moved here before the war, in 1937.

"They were very good to us," Takechi said of city residents. "There was very little bad feeling that we could feel."

Flanagan helped those passing through Boys Town find jobs elsewhere, often in the Midwest, Lynch said, which the government probably considered less vital to national security than the West Coast.

Some, like Katsu Okida, went on to serve in the 442nd Infantry Regiment, composed almost entirely of soldiers with Japanese ancestry.

Okida was killed in 1944. Flanagan wrote his family in Colorado, telling them that a special Mass would be said at Boys Town in his honor.

***

The West Coast reopened to Japanese-Americans in early 1945. The following year, President Harry Truman officially terminated the War Relocation Authority.

But by that time, many who were forced out were reluctant to return, having built lives in other places.

The Takahashis returned to California in 1947. Margaret didn't want to leave, she later wrote, but her husband "wanted to be his own boss."

"The evacuation did change our philosophy," she wrote. "It made you feel that you knew what it was to die, to go somewhere you couldn't take anything but what you had inside you. And so it strengthened you."

Okura worked as a psychologist at Boys Town for 17 years. He served as a psychologist for the State of Nebraska until 1970, when he moved to the Washington, D.C., area to take a job at the National Institutes of Health. He would become a civil rights leader, fighting for the rights of Japanese-Americans.

Before he left Nebraska, he founded the Omaha chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League. The group still serves as common ground for Omahans of Japanese ancestry, helping them connect and celebrate their cultural traditions.

Mike Oshima retired from Boys Town in 1998, after raising his family on the grounds. He served under three more executive directors after Flanagan's death in 1948.

"My dad was very loyal to Boys Town," said Oshima's daughter, Terry Burdett. "He appreciated the opportunities Father Flanagan gave him."

Today, there are few remnants of Omaha's link to the internment. Soon the last traces of the homes in the cul-de-sac will also be gone.

But those who know the story don't need them to remember.

boys-town-louisiana-hosts-3rd-annual-bowl-a-paloozaNewBoys Town Louisiana Hosts 3rd Annual Bowl-A-PaloozaLouisiana
Louisiana Bowl-A-Palooza 1
Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

​The only thing better than good food, live music and an evening of unlimited bowling is supporting a cause that's close to your heart. Boys Town Louisiana gave their community supporters and donors a chance to enjoy a night of saving children and healing families at their annual Bowl-A-Palooza, an event that aims to bring the community together and support the Boys Town mission.

The 3rd Annual Bowl-A-Palooza is one of two large-scale fundraisers of the year that allows donors to interact with the families and children in a fun way. The $25 tickets for the event include food, live music, access to the silent auction and unlimited bowling at Rock N Bowl, a local and family-owned business that has been a continued supporter of Boys Town throughout the years. Bowl-A-Palooza is designed to be an event that is inclusive of all Boys Town supporters, including donors, community members, employees and youth to raise funds for the residential homes and for youth aging out of the foster care system.

In honor of National Foster Care Month, Boys Town Louisiana asked for company sponsorships to help cover the cost of the event and to raise funds for foster care services. When all was said and done, Boys Town Louisiana walked away from the event having raised $40,000 through revenue from company sponsorships, silent auction profit and ticket sales. Compared to last year's $21,000 raised, this year was a huge success.

"Unique to this year, Bowl-A-Palooza hosted a bowling competition between major donors," said Julia Turkevich, Boys Town Louisiana Donor Relations Specialist. "The highest scoring sponsorship team, Entergy, won bragging rights as the Boys Town King Pin! They took home the Bowl-A-Palooza trophy, which they get to hold onto for a year until the next year's event."

Congratulations to Boys Town Louisiana for another successful Bowl-A-Palooza during National Foster Care Month!

 
jen-standley-goes-above-and-beyond-to-assist-youthNewJen Standley Goes Above and Beyond to Assist YouthNorth Florida
Jen Standley
Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

​Jennifer "Jen" Standley began her journey as a Boys Town employee in 2010 when she and her husband became Licensed Foster Parents. One year into their time as foster parents, the Standleys adopted a boy and his two adult siblings. Their adoption reunited the siblings for the first time in 10 years.

Now working as an Administrative Assistant for the Boys Town North Florida Family Home Program, Jen continues to make an impact on kids every day not only through her daily job duties, but also outside of work. From mentoring to teaching cooking classes, her passion for helping youth has been a blessing to all of the kids she helps.

"Jennifer Standley is a true Boys Town hero," said Development Director Dena Strickland. "She genuinely cares about our children, exemplifying our North Florida Culture of always 'Going the Extra Mile' to ensure our children are well taken care of. This is just one example of many and I am very proud of her initiatives – she is a true GEM!"

Jen has taken on many projects and roles to ensure kids have the life skills they need to become successful. This past summer, she taught two cooking classes to youth in the Family Home Program. The youth learned to make roasted buffalo chicken with yellow rice and broccoli, which turned out to be a fan favorite among both the kids and staff. Standley's cooking class, helped youth become more confident and self-sufficient.

"It fills my heart with pride and joy when I see our youth experience new things. There's nothing better than cooking a meal and having a youth ask for the recipe because they want to cook the meal they just ate," Standley said.

But Standley's kindness doesn't stop at cooking classes. Her most recent project is assisting with Boys Town North Florida's new state program called "Keys to Independence." This statewide program was created to assist youth in Foster Care with passing their exams and driving tests to obtain their Learner's Permits and later their Driver's License. Standley holds a study group at ART Town to help youth study for their driver's exams. Recently, three youth passed their Learner's Permit test from the DMV thanks to Jen.

"Because of the success of these three girls who passed their Learner's Permit tests, we constantly hear other youth asking Jen when she can help them," said Tonia Westerfield, Boys Town North Florida Family Home Program Director. "It's a beautiful thing to witness."

"Seeing their faces light up with excitement and seeing how proud and confident they were when they passed their tests is what makes what I do worth every moment," Standley reflected.

In addition to the Keys to Independence program and cooking classes, Jen also mentors Boys Town youth who have aged out of the system. She helps them with the transition to adulthood by providing advice and teaching valuable life skills.

"It brings me much joy to work with such a wonderful agency that shares the same philosophy as me," Standley said. "Kids matter! This is why I do what I can to help these youth who may not have every opportunity as other youth."

cinco-de-mayo-parade-honors-south-omaha-heritageCinco de Mayo Parade Honors South Omaha HeritageNebraska
Cinco de Mayo Parade Honors South Omaha Heritage
Tuesday, Jun 20, 2017

​The South Omaha Cinco de Mayo parade and celebration is one of the largest in the Midwest. The parade features floats, marching bands and other entertainers marching along the historic 24th Street in South Omaha. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army's 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the France-Mexican War. The celebration honoring the history of South Omaha, Mexican heritage and culture began in the 1930s and has continued to be held annually since its start.

This year's celebration extended over five days. It began on Wednesday with a historic exhibit and moved into Thursday and Friday with a Miss Cinco de Mayo pageant as well as musical performances, then extended into Saturday with the annual parade, carnival and fiesta and finally concluded on Sunday with Mariachi Mass, performances and the carnival.

The Boys Town South Omaha office participates in the parade and sets up a booth every year to show their support within the community. About 80 adults and youth volunteered their time to help with various aspects of the Cinco de Mayo celebration on May 5, 2017. Volunteers helped set up floats, pass out promotional items and run the booth at the event.

Many youth from the Boys Town Family Home Program volunteered their Saturday to pass out informational pamphlets, balloons and candy during the parade down 24th Street. Youth also assisted with the booth by giving away donated toys, stuffed animals and books, passed out additional informational pamphlets and encouraged children of all ages to participate in the bean bag toss game while cheering on all those who participated.

"Boys Town's participation in Cinco de Mayo reflects not only our partnerships within the South Omaha community, but also an opportunity to share Father Flanagan's mission with our families, friends and the community." Chris Miller Director of South Omaha Operations said. "I'm thankful for all of the organizational support from Boys Town's families and volunteers to help make this event so successful."

boys-town-central-florida-receives-grant-from-orlando-sentinel-family-fundBoys Town Central Florida Receives Grant from Orlando Sentinel Family FundCentral Florida
Boys Town Central Florida Receives Grant from Orlando Sentinel Family Fund
Tuesday, Jun 20, 2017

​Boys Town Central Florida recently received a $60,000 grant through the Orlando Sentinel Family Fund, a McCormick Foundation fund. This grant will support Boys Town Central Florida's mission by providing scholarships for low-income families in their Common Sense Parenting® classes and by supporting programs for the at-risk homes in the In-Home Family Program.

The Orlando Sentinel Family Fund is committed to improving the communities of Central Florida by funding qualified nonprofit organizations that aid disadvantaged children and families. Helping these communities become successful and achieve self-sufficiency is their major goal, which is why they are long-time supporters of Boys Town Central Florida.

"We have a long-standing relationship with the Orlando Sentinel Family Fund and Lisa Jacobsen, Orlando Sentinel Media Group's Charitable Giving and Communications Manager," said Tabitha Talbott, Donor Relations Specialist for Boys Town Central Florida. "The Orlando Sentinel Family Fund funds many nonprofit organizations every year, with Boys Town Central Florida being a prominent recipient for the last several years. They believe in Boys Town's mission and vision."

Since 2007, Boys Town Central Florida has received nine separate grants from the foundation, totaling at $335,000. "Boys Town Central Florida is very pleased and proud to be a partner with the Orlando Sentinel Family Fund and are grateful for their continued support," said Terry Knox, Boys Town Central Florida Development Director.

Local grant opportunities like the Orlando Sentinel Family Fund are crucial for supporting Boys Town's mission and vision for America's families. Congratulations to Boys Town Central Florida on receiving this grant so they can continue to save children and heal families in Central Florida!

BT-iowa-staff-awarded-by-iowas-coalition-for-family-and-childrens-servicesBoys Town Iowa Staff Awarded by Iowa’s Coalition for Family and Children’s Services
Iowa staff earns award
Friday, Jun 16, 2017

On March 16, 2017 two Boys Town Iowa staff members were recognized for their efforts by the Iowa's Coalition for Family and Children's Services. The Iowa Coalition for Family and Children's Services was established in 1979. It was founded to serve as an alliance for agencies that work to strengthen services for Iowa's children and families.

Every year, the Iowa Coalition for Family and Children's Services chooses a select number of individuals from the many agencies across the state of Iowa who serve children and families whose accomplishments and passions closely align with the organization.

Jeff Hackett, Director of Community Engagement for Boys Town Iowa, was awarded the Tom Lewis Memorial Award and Keely Heitland, In-Home Family Services Supervisor, received the Sue Pitts-Fischer Memorial Award. The Iowa Coalition of Family and Children's Services selected Jeff and Keely for these honors due to their outstanding commitment and service to children and families within the community.

The Tom Lewis Memorial Award is awarded to individuals who show outstanding service, dedication, longevity and diversity in duties to children and families. Jeff received the Tom Lewis Memorial Award to recognize his similar accomplishments in service and dedication to children and families in Iowa.

"I hope this award is an indicator of how all our Boys Town Iowa employees share a commitment and compassion for the children and families we serve," Keely said.

Keely was awarded the Sue Pitts-Fischer Memorial Award to recognize her leadership, mentorship and advancement in practices for children and family services through public and private partnership.

"It was a wonderful surprise and honor to be nominated and presented with such an award, "she said. "Having been a supervisor for almost eight years, this award motivates me to continue to use my experience and knowledge to coach and develop staff as well as advocate for children and families at every level."

Sue Pitts-Fischer was a leader in the child welfare system in Iowa. She dedicated her life to meeting the needs of children and families. The Sue Pitts-Fischer Memorial Award is given to a social worker, family therapist, supervisor or administrator who has shown outstanding achievements within their careers.

"Sue Pitts-Fischer was a highly passionate and driven individual who spent her career working to improve the lives of Iowa children and families. Keely mirrors that passion, leadership, and commitment not only to children and families but also toward mentoring others in the field as Sue Pitts-Fischer did," Debbie Orduna, Executive Director, Boys Town Iowa said.

Jeff and Keely were chosen among many other individuals from numerous agencies across the state of Iowa.

"It is an honor for Keely and Jeff to be chosen from the many nominated for this honor. Boys Town is very fortunate to have them as part of our team in Iowa." Orduna said.

one-mom-six-kids-and-a-forever-family-full-of-loveOne Mom, Six Kids and a Forever Family Full of LoveNew England
Angi and her six boys (Back row) Austin, Angi, baby Zee and Matthew; (front row) Edison, Isaiah and Keymoni
Friday, Jun 9, 2017

For eight and a half hours a day, Monday through Friday, Angi Hastings works as a pediatric nurse, caring for young patients at Hasbro Children's Hospital.

For the rest of her life, she is a "Supermom," loving and raising six boys she adopted as a Boys Town New England Foster Parent.

This is her story, in her own words.

I am currently 39 years old. We live in our own five-bedroom home in Cumberland, Rhode Island.  I became a foster parent when I was 27 years old. I always knew I wanted to help children and was just waiting for the right time. I finished college, bought my first starter home and jumped right in! People ask me why I did it, what made me become a foster parent. I can honestly say I really am not sure. I always wanted to help kids and the BOYS TOWN foster parent ad in the paper kept drawing my attention. So one day I just called. Before you know it, I was enrolled in the classes to become a foster parent, and within a year I had my first placement! 

The support I receive from my family is incredible; they have always accepted my "foster" kids as if they were my own. While they are all employed and have families of their own, they help whenever they can. I use the boys' stipend money to pay for an at-home sitter, which I think is a necessity to provide them consistency and structure.  I can honestly say parenting is the hardest job I have ever had but I wouldn't change it for the world!

The children:

Austin is 17 years old. He moved in with me when he was 5 years old after living in a shelter for about three months waiting for someone to take him. He was removed from his mother due to her drug addiction, and domestic abuse and neglect. When Austin first moved in, he was extremely guarded. It took him a bit of time to realize I was there for him and had no intention of leaving him. At the time, I worked overnights and he was watched by my cousin at my house. Austin would run up the road after me and cry. I would constantly reinforce that I had to go to work but that I would be back! It took a good two months but he finally stopped chasing me up the street. Every day, our relationship grew stronger and his mother slowly faded out of the picture; she wouldn't show for visits or they were frequently cancelled due to her continued positive drug screens. After about a year, Mom voluntarily gave up custody of him to me. Austin has had some depression issues and he does attend counseling to teach him to talk about what is bothering him and better ways to handle it. He still needs a lot of guidance but attends school full time and has two part-time jobs.  Overall, he is a terrific kid!  He will be a senior this fall and with my help and support, he will hopefully become a strong, independent adult.

Matthew is 14 years old. He moved in when he was 3 after living in a children's group home for nearly two years. He was removed from his home because of severe neglect and malnourishment. When he first moved in with me, I was amazed at how far behind he was in all aspects. Matthew could barely walk. He was very clumsy and looked like a toddler falling down with just about every step he took. He also had a language all his own and pretty much said three words you could actually decipher. He was still in diapers. When Matthew moved in with me, he began excelling immediately! He learned to balance himself, and before you know it, was running around like a maniac. He potty-trained almost immediately; his speech took a bit of time but now he is a very articulate speaker. Matthew does continue to have some fine motor problems due to the fact that he missed opportunities to improve these skills because of neglect during a time of development. Matthew's story was a roller coaster; it was six years after his arrival that I was finally able to adopt him. Now he's finishing eighth grade and is doing great! Matthew does have severe ADHD and continued fine motor delays but is able to figure out ways to handle these delays on his own. He loves to read and play video games. Matthew is very smart and I am hoping with proper direction and reinforcement, he will become a successful adult.

Edison, who is now 5, was my next little tyke. He moved in when he was a year and a half old. He was removed from his mom and dad due to neglect. I was initially told he had questionable autistic behavior. When he arrived, he was a quiet, timid little boy who immediately picked up a toy hammer I had and began banging on everything, including the glass picture frames! However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that he took immediately to my parenting, and when I told him, "No, that's dangerous," he stopped. While he is energetic, I never saw any of the "autistic qualities" I was told about. After about a year and a half with me, at age 3, his mom agreed to an open adoption and he officially became mine forever! He is full of love, very smart and definitely keeps me on my toes. He attends preschool full time and is a successful student.

Brothers Isaiah and Keymoni were my next two kids. They were removed from their mom and dad due to homelessness and severe abuse and neglect. I got a phone call from Boys Town about five o'clock in the afternoon one day asking if I would take two brothers. I went back and forth in my head. But knew I wanted to help and had the space and definitely the love. So in they came. They arrived at 11 that night, and both looked scared to death. Isaiah was 6 and Keymoni was just 3. They were very cautious at first, but were over the top when I showed them their room and their beds. Isaiah said, "These are our beds, only our beds." That night, they ate like they had never seen food before. We immediately hit it off! They are just really sweet, cute boys who have obviously been through a lot in their young lives. To this day, they say things about their previous life that takes my breath away. But I just explain that "we" don't live like that anymore. After a year, their parents voluntarily agreed to an open adoption.  Isaiah is now 7, a successful first-grader who does great in school, loves to read and is VERY energetic. Keymoni is the sweetest boy, although he does have some behavioral concerns in school involving getting mad, tearing things from walls, pushing things over, etc. I have to constantly reinforce to him on the way to school that if he gets frustrated, he needs to ask for some quiet time to himself.  Today, I am happy to report that he has had great school days for two weeks running! Keymoni also has some learning disabilities due to lead exposure. Over time, I am hoping that his self-esteem grows and he finds himself deserving of everything he can dream of!

What can I say about Zee? SURPRISE! Zee is the little brother of Isaiah and Keymoni who moved in to our house when he was just six days old. He became an official member of our family at the same time as his brothers. Nothing beats having a baby in our home! 

A typical day:

Our day starts at 5:30 a.m. All the little ones up, wipe the sleepies out of your eyes and eat your breakfast! Wash your face, brush your teeth, do your hair and get dressed… times four. In the meantime, I wake up the older ones and make sure they are doing the same. I have to remind myself I need to shower, too! Then I pack the lunches, and it's off to work for me and off to school for the kids! At this point, I am trying to avoid looking at the tornado that has just hit my house. My work time is actually my down time... lol. I have eight hours of work chaos, and then I rush out at 4:30 p.m. to get to the preschool before it closes! We get home about 5:30 to make supper; my oldest will often help me and even help cook. Everybody eats, then we have some free time. The kids run around like little whirlwinds and I try to tidy up the house, a feat that is virtually impossible! After a bit, it's showers all around for the little ones ("No, you are not done. You need to use soap.") and everyone gets their PJs on. A little TV time, snacks and chocolate milk for everyone! Then quiet time and off to bed. Everybody gets a book, then lights out! Mommy goes downstairs and spends some time with the big kids (if they want to, that is). While watching a TV show with them, I am usually ironing clothes for the next day. By 9 o'clock, I am hopefully climbing into my bed to watch my own show. Who am I kidding? I am sound asleep before the first commercial.

Weekends are wonderful! We take full advantage of not having to go anywhere quickly. We "sleep in" til about 6:30. Then we do whatever suits our fancy for the day. Sometimes we take a day trip; sometimes we stay in our PJs all day. Sometimes we just hang around outside. You know, usual family stuff. No rush, no worry!

The rewards and challenges of being a foster parent (and an adoptive parent):    

I think the most rewarding thing about being a foster parent is watching the kids grow, seeing how much they have changed since coming into a normal, consistent environment. When the children go from saying, "When you see a cop, you should run," to saying, "That is a police officer and they are there to help you." To hear them say, "I am going to do it, I am going to try my hardest." Thriving. Knowing they will always have a safe place to live and food in their bellies, and that they are loved unconditionally, "no matter what."

Foster care isn't for the faint of heart. There are many obstacles that come with it. The most challenging thing is dealing with "the system" itself. There's also the challenge of taking kids in, learning their ways and trying to understand how they lived. Then trying to figure out, with them, the best ways to erase all the inappropriate behavior that has always been "normal" to them.

Another challenge is dealing with having to give kids back! Believe it or not, in the past 12 years, I have had the privilege and honor of caring for 12 different children. I only hope and pray that their stay with me had a positive impact, whether their stay was long or short. I wish them all the best! They will never be forgotten. Becoming a foster parent has changed my life forever! I wouldn't change a thing!!!

For information on becoming a Boys Town New England Foster Parent, call 401-845-2250 (800-847-2025 for Massachusetts residents).

boys-town-awarded-grant-from-omaha-community-foundation-Boys Town Awarded Grant from the Omaha Community FoundationNebraska
South Omaha Location
Friday, Jun 9, 2017

Boys Town is able to carry out its mission of Saving Children, Healing Families® through the support of the community and generous donors who believe in our mission and the impact we have on the children and families we serve. Boys Town recently received an investment from the Spring Fund for Omaha, a grant from the Omaha Community Foundation reserved for large non-profits, totaling $25,000 that will be dedicated to uplifting the clients of the South Omaha Initiative.

The Fund for Omaha is a grant from the Omaha Community Foundation, a foundation that facilitates charitable giving, simplifies the philanthropic process and gives donors more financial flexibility. The Omaha Community Foundation aims to connect people who care about the community with people and nonprofits who are doing their part to make Omaha the best it can be. This grant was awarded based on organizational strength, understanding of needs for the Omaha population, strength of strategy and management of resources in order to optimize performance of the organization.

"This is very important for Boys Town because it gives community validation for the Boys Town strategic plan to focus on prevention of children and families entering the juvenile justice and child welfare systems," said Melissa Steffes, Boys Town Community Engagement Development Officer. This investment will be used to strengthen more South Omaha families and keep more children safe through the Boys Town South Omaha Initiative, which aims to provide support in a high needs Omaha community.

"We are thrilled to have the Omaha Community Foundation's investment in the Boys Town South Omaha Initiative where we are committed to the timeless values of our founder, Father Edward Flanagan, who believed that all children deserve safety, stability and a family's love," said Steffes.

Going forward, the Spring Fund for Omaha will have a profound impact and benefit for the South Omaha community, and for that we are grateful to the Omaha Community Foundation.

the-rogers-foundation-gives-100000-to-boys-town-nevadaThe Rogers Foundation Gives $100,000 to Boys Town NevadaNevada
Friday, Jun 9, 2017

​Dedicated to transforming lives through arts and education in Southern Nevada, The Rogers Foundation recently awarded a total of $240,600 in grants to three local programs, including $100,000 to Boys Town Nevada.

"Our mission at The Rogers Foundation is to transform lives through arts and education," said Beverly Rogers, Chairman of the Board for The Rogers Foundation. "The $100,000 Gift of Assurance to Boys Town Nevada will support a program that puts family counselors in schools to work with educators to identify early signs of family instability.  We put a lot of focus on Clark County's under-resourced student population—we know that when kids are hungry, have troubles at home, and can't concentrate for any number of personal reasons, learning is not a priority.  We are thrilled to get behind Boys Town's endeavor to break the cycle of poverty by making a learning environment possible."

boys-town-is-on-a-missionBoys Town is On a MissionNew England
Photo copyright of Dave Hansen.
Friday, Jun 9, 2017

This article is written by Derek Gomes. It was posted on newportri.com June 6, 2017.

 

From its humble beginning on an undeveloped piece of land off West Main Road, Boys Town New England now serves about 1,000 children and 400 families from across Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts.

In the beginning, Boys Town provided foster care to at-risk children and helped keep together faltering families. Through the years, it has expanded its menu of services, including opening five homes that accommodate up to 29 children on its Portsmouth campus and offering parenting classes.

The local chapter of Boys Town celebrated its 25th anniversary last year; the nonprofit agency that has 12 locations across the country is celebrating a century of service in 2017.

The local campus, built on 18 acres of donated land, is a safe haven for boys and girls who suffer from neglect, behavioral issues or abuse. Presently, a total of 19 children live in the five single-family homes with adults who provide them with structure and guidance, according to two long-time staff members.

The Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families and its counterpart in Massachusetts refer children and families to Boys Town.

"We believe in structured work," Development Director Ashley Medeiros said. Children "get some free time if they earn it."

The skills reinforced in the homes, such as completing chores and following directions from adults, prepare the children to return to their homes or to navigate adulthood, added Doug Vanden Hoek, senior director of program operations.

Boys Town staff stay in touch with individuals who reach adulthood and "age out" of the program, making sure they pay their rent and hold down a job, Vanden Hoek said.

The youngsters currently living at Boys Town range from about 3 years old to recent high school graduates. In addition, the agency has 40 licensed foster homes off campus.

Through the years, Boys Town has evolved and added to its services as needed, Medeiros said.

The Rev. Edward Flanagan began what became Boys Town as a refuge for homeless boys in the area of Omaha, Nebraska. The model to help at-risk youth evolved from there to foster homes and then to live-in communities like the campus in Portsmouth.

Now, Boys Town is doing more outreach work to prevent families from dissolving or children being tagged by the state system in the first place.

Many of the 62 staff members rarely step foot in the Portsmouth headquarters. They work on the road, visiting family homes and schools, where they provide outreach services.

"We don't want kids taken out of home, but we know for some kids it's inevitable," Vanden Hoek said.

Boys Town New England has an annual operating budget of about $9 million, some of which comes from donations to the chapter and assistance from the nonprofit's headquarters, Medeiros said.

Its goal always will remain the same.

"There will still be that behavioral model," Vanden Hoek said. "We're just trying to change behaviors here."

Without the safety net Boys Town provides, some children would fall through the cracks.

"There's so much need," Medeiros said. "These kids wouldn't have a home. We're able to stop that. There kids now have careers and futures."

For more information about Boys Town New England, visit boystown.org.

pottawattamie-county-board-to-show-some-fatherly-love-Pottawattamie County Board to Show Some Fatherly LoveIowa
Fathers Matter
Thursday, Jun 8, 2017

Photo credit to Joe Shearer

This article is written by Tim Rohwer. It was posted on nonpareilonline.com on May 31, 2017.

Pottawattamie County wants to show some fatherly love to children who really need it.

The county's Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to contribute $1,000 towards the costs of the Fathers Matters Community Celebration, aimed at showing the importance of children having a father.

"Fathers have become an icon of the family," said Patrick Garcia, community outreach developer for Boys Town National Research Hospital. "We need to get them reconnected with children."

The local celebration, a joint venture by Boys Town Iowa and the Pottawattamie County Sheriff's Department, will be held on June 10, the weekend prior to Father's Day, at Tom Hanafan River Front Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Free and open to the public, the event will involve various activities ideal for dads spending a fun afternoon with their children.

Activities planned include kite flying, a bike rodeo, booth games, arts and crafts and more.

Statistics provided by Garcia clearly show the disadvantages of children not having a father in their lives.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24.7 million children, or 33 percent of the total children's population, live absent their biological father. Nearly 57 percent of black children live absent their biological father, while 31 percent of Hispanic children are in the same situation as are 20 percent of causcasian children.

Children growing up in a household where the father is involved in crime are four times more likely to land in prison than other children, Garcia said.

Garcia, who has sought financial and in-kind help from various entities, received a $1,000 pledge from the board to help pay for costs.

In other action, the board approved the purchase of three recycling containers to be located around the county.

"It's to increase awareness and availability of recycling to rural residents," said Matt Wyant, planning director.

The blue containers should arrive within two months, with one of them placed in the Crescent area, another in the Underwood area and the third at the county's waste transfer station.

 

bt-unveils-inclusive-statue-for-100th-anniversaryBoys Town unveils inclusive statue for 100th anniversaryNebraska
New Statue
Wednesday, Jun 7, 2017

This story is written by Erin Hassanzadeh. It was posted on ketv.com   June 6, 2017.

After 100 years of serving children and families, the vision of Boys Town is still shifting and adapting. The new bronze statue on its campus is a reflection of that change.

"Having a young lady appear on our statue is all part of that -- to reflect the fact that we serve children and family today at Boys Town," said Thomas Lynch, the Boys Town director of community programs.

"Boys Town is about families now and not just about boys," said Matthew Placzek, the statue artist.

Dozens, including Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, attended Tuesday's reveal.

The statue was loosely inspired from a picture of two former Boys Town youth.

"We didn't want to make it just an exact portrait of two people but kind of the bond between all the children here at Boys Town," said Placzek.

"Boys Town means a lot to me. They've helped me since I've been here since the sixth grade. They helped me learn and grow a lot and made into the guy I am today," said Jason Landin, the Boys Town mayor.

The piece, titled- "The Work Continues," is 7 feet tall and was crafted in Omaha. It was cast in bronze in Colorado before returning to the Boys Town campus. The statue it replaced will now be in the Boys Town Hall of History. The public is encouraged to come see the new statue anytime.

boys-town-block-party-encourages-a-safe-violence-free-summerBoys Town Block Party Encourages a Safe, Violence-Free SummerNebraska
Block Party
Thursday, Jun 1, 2017

This story is written by Taylor Berth. It was posted on ketv.com on May 26, 2017.

Friday marked the last day of school for Omaha Public Schools students. Boys Town held its fourth annual block party in celebration and in hopes of getting kids involved during the summer months.

The Ames Avenue Boys Town office hosted the block party, which included food, face painting, games and bounce houses. The event was also held in conjunction with Harmony Week, which is designed to highlight the importance of taking part in positive alternatives to violence to ensure a safe summer.

The problem is "Kids running around late at night, doing bad things, doing drugs," said the Rev. Steven Boes, national executive director of Boys Town. "I think there are many alternatives to that and if parents involve their children, they have less chance of that happening. Keep the kids busy with sports, with going to church, with activities during the summer, getting out and seeing Nebraska and seeing all the delights around Omaha, the fun things to do."

Vendors were also present at Friday's block party, some offering financial counseling, access to job applications and mental and physical health information. Herb Hames represented the FBI as a volunteer with the Omaha Citizens Academy Alumni Association.

The association has an outreach program for the FBI and community.

"Down time is troubling time," Hames said. "You've really got to work with the environment and such to keep them busy doing fun stuff. There are a lot of great organizations in Omaha that do just that. In this day and age when all the news is bad, bad, bad, it's nice to look at the good in people and it's nice to understand that this is still a great place."

Staff members at the Boys Town Ames Avenue location work to support kids and families through behavioral health services, the Ways 2 Work auto loan program and through consultants who work with the families in their own homes.

packed-full-of-hopePacked Full of HopeNebraska
Packed for hope
Thursday, Jun 1, 2017

The Junior League of Omaha recently partnered with Boys Town Foster Family Services for their "Project Hope Pack" campaign to benefit youth Foster Care. The purpose of this campaign is to provide children bags filled with comfort items as they enter foster care. This assimilation can be very difficult for many, so providing youth with items such as toiletries and personal items can help ease this sometimes tough transition.

"One of the goals for our children is stability and the least amount of trauma possible during their foster care transitions. Often times, children arrive in our program with only the clothes on their back." Matt Priest Director of Boys Town Nebraska Foster Family Services said. "We appreciate the support of Junior League of Omaha through their Project Hope Pack with providing these care kits. Every child will receive a back pack with comfort items they can permanently call their own, which we believe can make a child's move to a foster home a bit easier."  

Over 100 bags were donated to Boys Town Foster Family Services and will be distributed to youth as they enter Foster Family Services. Boys Town extends a thank you to Junior League of Omaha for their Project Hope Pack initiative.

bt-seniors-looking-to-succeedBoys Town Seniors Looking to Succeed
Wednesday, May 31, 2017

This article is written by Andrea Braswell. It was posted on 3newsnow.com on May 21, 2017.

Seniors smiled in their caps and gowns as they greeted family after receiving their diplomas.

Some say they are now looking towards the future.

"I'm excited to continue my studies in Criminal Justice and run track and cross country."

Many students say Boys Town helped lead them in the right direction.

"It's pretty incredible just like how far I've come since I first got here, and how much I've matured since I first got here."

Sadie Johnson is adopted, her mother says seeing her progression is heartwarming.

"I feel very proud of everything she has accomplished."

"She's heading to Wayne State for an art degree, she has earned scholarships and monetary awards."

These students were at risk before coming to Boys Town, staff says they are now heading down the right path.

"Our kids have overcome an awful lot and they come from all parts of the country."

"They are all at risk kids that have done their best and they are all taking the next step on their journey into life."

Some seniors call it bittersweet as they step into their future and have to part ways with close friends. 

"I got to know a lot of people and they've become my family and it will always be that way and always stay that way."

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