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Sometimes, life events happen when a person gets older, but for Mandy Cabral-Hangsleben (formerly Mandy Zeigler), she says her life changing event happened at Boys Town New England back in 1990.

Mandy was one of the first children ever served by Boys Town New England.

“I know I was one of the first, if not the first child at Boys Town New England,” she said. “It was just a little tiny office of the side of the road in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, with dreams to aspire into what it is today.”

Mandy landed at Boys Town after what she calls “generations of trauma.”

“We all know the story of what some youth go through,” she said. “First, foster home to foster home, then to group home, then maybe another group home, then back to a foster home. I was so thankful I ended up at Boys Town.”

Mandy reached out to Boys Town recently, wanting to thank the people who helped her learn valuable family lessons.

“I’m a mother of seven,” Cabral-Hangsleben, now living in Georgia, said. “I have three biological and four non-biological children. Six are adults and one will start high school in August. I just had my very first grandchild a couple of months ago, and that is what compelled me to reach out to Boys Town. Holding that little boy has made me want to express the sincerest gratitude and thanks I have for this program. He has no idea of what a blessing this program has been to him. He's only two months old, but this program has broken generations of trauma… Generations of trauma.”

She said there are so many people she wanted to thank, but most of all, she wanted to recognize those who donate to Boys Town.

“I wanted to thank the social workers. I wanted to thank the volunteers” she said. “Any support staff who work there, and especially the donors. The donors are the silent heroes. Without the donors, we would not have these programs. They wouldn't be changing lives the way they do. And it's not just as simple as donating and helping support a program to house and feed a child. Today, it is helping generations, these programs, and skills that we learn as children at Boys Town, these coping mechanisms, these parenting skills, all of these methodologies that we learn within the program.”

Cabral-Hangsleben said Boys Town gave her the tools to be a more present and effective parent.

“I'm not perfect. I've made mistakes along the way,” she said. “There's been ups and downs and you learn. And I have been given the tools to succeed and be successful and rectify any bad behavior I had had, or things I needed to change.”

She stressed that parenting techniques and tactics can be made possible due to donations and the support of everyone who works at Boys Town.

“My children fortunately have us to be very present in faith and in family. We still believe in family dinners. We spend most of our time together when everybody's home,” she said, crediting Boys Town for teaching her those qualities. “I’m so happy my children will never know the generational trauma I suffered through. Those cycles were broken in my family and my immediate family thanks to the outpouring of love and support that was given to us by Boys Town, especially one person I would like to thank and that's Kathy Kiesling.”

Cabral-Hangsleben said she was served by many dedicated Boys Town personnel. But she said one person, like Kiesling, can be a life-changer.

“I don't think she understands the impact she had on my life,” she said. “But I'm coming up on my 30 years of when I completed my time with Boys Town and I wanted to express my sincerest thanks and gratitude, and my family will forever be thankful to this program.”

Watch Mandy's Boys Town New England Testimony