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First Car

First-Car Purchase Puts Former Boys Town Youth in the Driver’s Seat

March 27th, 2019     By Boys Town Contributor

Boys Town Model, Trade Life Program, Village of Boys Town, Youth Stories

Driving toward success recently took on a new – and literal – meaning for Shaelyn.

And it's all thanks to a Honda named "Honey" and a group of people dedicated to helping former Boys Town youth achieve their dreams.

Shaelyn, a 2017 Boys Town graduate, received her Certified Nursing Assistant training at Boys Town's Career Readiness Center. That helped her land a job at Elk Ridge Retirement Community in Elkhorn, Nebraska, where her duties include helping residents with their daily routines and, often, just being a friend they can talk to and lean on.

"We're basically their family when their family can't be there," Shaelyn said.

Having supportive relationships has been a big part of Shaelyn's life, both during and after her time at Boys Town. Her Family-Teachers® continue to provide encouragement and guidance, as does a family that began mentoring Shaelyn when she was receiving care in a Boys Town Family Home.

In addition, Shaelyn benefits from Boys Town's Trade Life® program, which provides ongoing support to former youth who completed a course in a trade or skilled labor field at the Career Readiness Center. The program helps these now-young adults find safe housing, stay on track at work (or in school) and meet many of the other challenges of independent living. 

Shaelyn has an apartment she shares with a roommate. She loves going to work every day, and she's working on obtaining a medication aide certification, which could help her move forward in her career.

But even with all the good things that were happening in her life, Shaelyn was still missing one basic necessity – her own car.

That meant depending on a Boys Town van for a ride to work, or asking friends for a lift to the grocery store or to run errands.

"It was hard because I had to ask someone who was already busy with their day to take me somewhere to get toilet paper," Shaelyn said. "And that was super frustrating."

That all changed earlier this year when Boys Town contacted Shaelyn and told her about an opportunity to buy her own car. The vehicle was one of two cars being repaired by students and their instructor in the Career Center's automotive course. If Shaelyn could come up with $1,000 and get the car insured and licensed, it was hers.

"It was so cool," Shaelyn said. "The first time I went to see the car, it had been sitting outside in the cold and wouldn't start. But it was still my car. The automotive course instructor went out of his way, fixing the car on his own time to get it running."

On February 27, Shaelyn slid behind the wheel of HER car – a 2004 Honda CRV with all-wheel drive – outside the Career Center and drove it off the Boys Town campus.

"That was the day I bought my steering wheel cover and I was very excited about that," she said.

Shaelyn even named the car "Honey."

"Having a car to drive myself to work and listen to my own music means so much more than I can put into words," she said. "I just never thought I would be a car owner. I can go to the store and not feel like a burden when asking other people for rides. And I can help out other people who were helping me. It's such an amazing feeling."

Shaelyn's story is just one of many wonderful examples of how Boys Town's staff, mentors and generous donors continue to support our former youth long after they leave our care. It's also a testament to how many people can come together to ensure our former youth have every opportunity to make the most of their talents and skills and experience success.

"I've had a lot of battles in my life and Boys Town has helped me overcome a lot of them," Shaelyn said. "My Family-Teachers taught me that sometimes you just have to chin up and accept things and work with what you have. That's what I've been doing and it's turned out great.

"Even after Boys Town, the people there are willing to go out of their way, and it makes me feel so loved and wanted."

 Our kids may leave Boys Town, but Boys Town never leaves our kids.

For more information about how you can support Boys Town's Career Readiness Center and Trade Life program, visit

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