1. Tell me a little about life before Boys Town.
I grew up in a single-mother household with a mother who never wanted me. And she made sure I knew that. When I was around ten years old, my mom began going to bars, often bringing home different men. The only opportunity I had to see or speak with her was when I'd peek into her room to say goodbye on my way to school. I completely took care of myself by this time: I got myself to school and home, I made my meals, I did laundry . . . everything.
After a year of that, I was sent to Massachusetts to live with my aunt and uncle, who were both alcoholics. My uncle had been drinking heavily one night and almost killed us in a head-on vehicle collision. At that point, my old life seemed safer and more stable, so I begged to go back home. My mom made it clear that she didn't want me. But Ricki, a woman who eventually became my foster mother, did.
2. What brought you to Boys Town? How old were you and how long did you stay?
Ricki, my foster mother, was great. She took care of me then, and we're still close to this day. Still, I was only 12 or 13, and I wanted my mom to want me. I eventually fell back into the same bad habits, like skipping school to hang out with the "cool kids." I even ran away at one point, hoping my mom would pay attention to me and take me back. It didn't work. She found me, promptly turned me over to the authorities, and made me a ward of the state. The state gave me the choice to go to Boys Town or another facility. I chose Boys Town, thank goodness, and my life changed completely.
3. Tell me a little about your experience at Boys Town, what were you involved in, what impacted you the most, what did you learn?
At Boys Town, I had a stable, supportive home for the first time, and the combination of structure and support really made a difference for me. Bob and Lois, my Family-Teachers, truly cared about my success. They wanted me to have a good future, and they were excited for all my successes. I had parents who were home to make sure I did my homework, to make sure I had food to eat and clothes to wear. I became a wrestling cheerleader, worked two jobs after school, and made some terrific friends whom I'm still in touch with to this day.
My academic performance shot up, too. I was inducted into the National Honor Society and had a 4.0 GPA my senior year. I took barbering classes at the Vocational Career Center, which helped me find my career.
Most importantly, I found a family who truly cared about me and was invested in my success. I learned how a real family feels and interacts; I learned how I wanted to raise my own children.
4. Tell me a little about life after Boys Town
Today, I am proud to say I have an amazing husband and two beautiful daughters. Our oldest is in college at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and our youngest is a junior in high school. They are smart, beautiful young women. The wonderful family I have today is due in no small part to my experience at Boys Town. I also went on to a college of hair design after graduation, and I've been a barber since 1991.
5. Where do you think you would be if you hadn't come to Boys Town?
If I hadn't gone to Boys Town, I wouldn't be as happy as I am today. I would probably have figured something out, but life would have been a struggle. I'm sure I wouldn't have the successful career and family life that I do now. I wouldn't be a hairstylist if I hadn't had the opportunity to start working toward it at Boys Town.
6. Finish the sentence Boys Town is…
Boys Town is, without a doubt, one of the best things that has ever happened to me!