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Responding to Covid-19 with Resiliency and Resourcefulness

May 29, 2020     By Father Steven E. Boes President and National Executive Director, Boys Town

Coronavirus COVID-19, Father Boes, Village of Boys Town

​​​As America slowly begins to reopen its public spaces and readjust to a “new normal,' Boys Town – thanks to your generosity and prayers – remains a beacon of stability, hope and healing.

When this crisis began, we quickly mobilized to protect and safeguard the health of the thousands of children and families in our care. Through enhanced protocols and other preventive measures, our staff were able to continue their life-changing work and maintain human connections while adhering to social distancing and other critical safety measures.

The events of the past few months challenged us to rethink old assumptions, search out new perspectives and reimagine how best to serve our youth, families and communities. Combining old-fashioned ingenuity with modern technology, we found opportunities to expand our efforts while also preserving many of the traditions that make Boys Town so special…      

  • Our National Research Hospital ​as well as our Behavioral Health Clinics launched virtual care visits (telehealth​). This proved quite popular as patients were able to access medical care and therapeutic assistance from the comfort and safety of their homes.​

  • Boys Town In-Home Family Consultants​ remained connected to their families and continued to offer critical support and counseling services using video chat apps, such as FaceTime and Facebook Messenger.

  • The Boys Town National Hotline® saw its call volume increase significantly, especially from states hardest hit by the virus. Responding to this urgent need, the Hotline expanded its texting services​ to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This ensures that anyone who is struggling with fear, anxiety or depression can always connect with our trained counselors. If you or someone in your family could benefit from this service, text VOICE to 20121.​

  • Our Development and Marketing Department took digital outreach to a new level by creating a social media campaign called Daily Dose of Support. In this series of articles, Boys Town physicians, psychologists, parenting experts, education specialists and counselors delivered practical tips, mental health strategies, advice and encouragement to help families adjust and cope with the stress of sheltering/working/schooling at home. In addition, traditionally in-person events like Parent Talk classes and the Memorial Day Run were shifted to online or virtual platforms. For example, the Run, with the theme, “One Mission. Many Finish Lines," was done virtually for the first time in its history. Nearly 1,000 runners from 33 states picked their own location (local trails, neighborhood tracks or gym treadmills) to complete a 1- or 5- mile run or walk to support Boys Town.

  • Graduating seniors from Boys Town High School received their diplomas during small, videotaped ceremonies in the Music Hall, followed by a car parade through the Village. Well-wishers lined the streets to celebrate our graduates' accomplishments while respecting social-distancing guidelines.

  • Boys Town Press® ,​ the Home's publishing division, hosted virtual story times. Press authors, reading aloud from their award-winning children's books, gave families a lively and educational experience. In addition, staff from the National Training​ Division recorded and disseminated 10-minute videos with tips on everything from supporting reading time at home to managing stress.

  • Our youth, while sheltering in place, regularly corresponded with residents of veterans' homes and senior care centers who they could no longer visit in person. They also expressed their deep appreciation to supporters and donors by handwriting personal thank-you letters.

  • I announced that I was taking a 20% cut in pay and challenged our executives to take cuts as well and all did. Other cost-saving measures were put in place to try and keep all our employees and avoid furloughs. We all need to do our part to weather this crisis.

These are but a few examples of how the work has continued thanks to your caring and generous support. Many businesses, organizations and individuals have lifted our spirits through donations of food, care packages, hand sanitizer and other special gifts. The compassion and empathy shown to our youth, families and staff during this time is a lesson in kindness and generosity that will not soon be forgotten. Thank you! 

​In the days and weeks ahead, more challenges and disruptions likely await us. But you can be assured that the safety and health of everyone in our care will remain a top priority. With resiliency, resourcefulness and your continued prayers, the mission to save children and heal families will carry on.  

God's Blessings,

Father Steven E. Boes
President and National Executive Director, Boys Town​

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