Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

News and Events

 

 

 

 

Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Boys Town Iowa Community Suicide Prevention Event Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Boys Town Iowa Community Suicide Prevention Event <p>In the state of Iowa suicide is the 2<sup>nd</sup> leading cause of death in ages 15 to 34. This alarming statistic proves that there is much we can still learn as a community to make positive changes in the youth we serve. </p><p>On Sept. 10, Boys Town Iowa hosted a Community Suicide Prevention Education Event at Thomas Jefferson High School in Council Bluffs, Iowa. </p><p>Sonya Fittje, Hope4Iowa Crisis Line Clinical Supervisor; Debra Schwiesow, Green Hills Education Agency; Ciara Warden, Clear Mind Therapy; and Mindy Eggert, Parent Advocate were on the panel to lead this year's discussion.   </p><p>The presenters provided suicide prevention strategies through awareness, identification and intervention for the participants to understand indicators of suicide to better help themselves and those around them. </p><p>"Being a part of a community event like this is extremely important because it brings awareness to the very difficult topic of suicide and how we can all work to prevent it and ultimately save lives," said Sonya.</p><p>They talked about how even mentioning the topic of suicide decreases the risk of people ending their lives because they then understand that they are not alone in what they are going through.</p><p>Suicide is a topic that everyone can bring awareness to because it impacts 45,000 people every year in our nation. It is especially important to be aware of this topic when working with youth, since it can have a big impact on this age group and it is our job to educate them. </p><p>Thank you to all the speakers who offered their time. Grant funding provided by Human Services Advisory Council made this community event possible. </p><p>For additional information on Suicide Awareness click <a href="/parenting/article/Pages/suicide-concerns.aspx">here</a>. <br></p><p><br></p>2018-10-01T05:00:00ZNewsIowa;#
Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Boys Town Iowa partners with Des Moines Public Schools Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Boys Town Iowa partners with Des Moines Public Schools <p>In September Boys Town Iowa will partner with three Des Moines Public Elementary Schools in high-risk neighborhoods to take part in preventive action for young students.</p><p>This new partnership will allow Boys Town In-Home Family Services<sup>®</sup> (IHFS) to work closely with faculty, support staff, parents and children of three elementary schools that are located in high-risk neighborhoods and are in need of additional resources.</p><p>The supervisor of this new program will be Yoly Smith, transfer from Boys Town Nevada, and Haley Stoll as the consultant. The Des Moines Public Schools will be providing office space for these new additions.</p><p>By teaming up with these elementary schools it will allow IHFS staff to work more directly with children who may be experiencing behavioral issues that could be preventing them from succeeding in the classroom.</p><p>"This new partnership will allow us to monitor a child's individual school plans, work with their parents on parenting skills, and prevent children from entering formal system involvement" said Debbie Orduna, Executive Director Boys Town Iowa, "This allows us to work very closely with teachers, support staff, and parents to help them understand and be empathetic to how a child's home dynamic can affect a child's education." </p><p>The goal of working with elementary age students is to prevent children from getting involved in Iowa's Child in Need of Assistance (CINA) formal system. This program aims to be proactive by assisting children and families during the elementary school years rather than addressing these problems in junior high or high school.</p><p>Kristina Krause-Bumgardner, Director, In-Home Family Services Program, explained how amazing a partnership like this is because it will start to bridge the gap between Boys Town services and public schools.</p><p>"I think this will greatly expand the population we are serving," said Kristina. "This will foster new relationships with the education services and allow us to work together in a proactive way to benefit these young children."</p><p>This partnership is a great step in strengthening our relationships with the community and becoming more connected with the children and families we serve. Thanks to employees who worked to make this proposal happen. </p>2018-09-17T05:00:00ZNews<img alt="Boys Town" src="/locations/iowa/news-and-events/PublishingImages/boystown.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />Iowa;#
Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Tyson Foods Summer Community Internship Program benefits Boys Town Iowa Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Tyson Foods Summer Community Internship Program benefits Boys Town Iowa <p>Boys Town Iowa was chosen by Tyson Foods as one of three non-profits in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to have a paid internship this summer. The Tyson Foods Summer Community Internship Program is administered through Campus Compact which is a national coalition of over 1,000 colleges and universities who are committed to building democracy through civic education and community development.</p><p>Sarah Kilnoski was chosen as Boys Town's summer Tyson intern, she is an Iowa Western Community College student studying psychology. Sarah worked out of the Council Bluffs office for Boys Town Iowa In-Home Family Services Program. She has been able to see a wide range of services provided in Iowa such as direct care, outreach opportunities, and collaboration with other providers.</p><p>Sarah explained that this internship with Boys Town has provided her with so much experience that a classroom could never give her. She was able to be a part of In-Home Family Support cases that were referred from Iowa Department of Human Services, Iowa Juvenile Court Services, and Voluntary and Preventative cases referred by Council Bluffs School District.  She also was able to participate in the Fathers Matter and Fill My Bucket community events.</p><p>"The experiences I've had during my internship have truly been life changing and have confirmed that this is exactly what I want to be doing after college," said Sarah. "My time at Boys Town has been nothing short of amazing."</p><p>Kristina Krause-Bumgardner, Director of In-Home Family Services, Boys Town Iowa, shared how an internship like this allows students to see first-hand Boys Town's quality and professionalism when it comes to working with children and families in the community.</p><p>"The Tyson internship has awarded Boys Town Iowa the opportunity to spotlight our programs and services to individuals who are working towards a human services degree. This grant not only allows us to share our mission and vision, but also enables Boys Town Iowa to compensate individuals for their time while learning," said Kristina.</p><p>This Tyson internship is a great program that allows students to get hands on experience and also allows Boys Town Iowa to promote our organization for future employment.  Next year, Boys Town Iowa hopes to add Tyson summer internships from Morningside College and Buena Vista University as well.<br></p>2018-08-03T05:00:00ZNews<img alt="Tyson Foods Internship Program" src="/parenting/questions-and-answers/PublishingImages/FoodsIntership.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />Iowa;#
Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Saving Children, Healing Families’ — Blue Water Bash around the corner Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Saving Children, Healing Families’ — Blue Water Bash around the corner <p><em></em><a href="https://www.spencerdailyreporter.com/story/2537836.html" target="_blank"><em>This article was posted on spencerdailyreporter.com July 15, 2018.</em></a></p><p> Every summer, Boys Town youth and families are given the opportunity to enjoy their summer vacations on the sandy shores of the Boys Town Okoboji Camp on the waters of West Okoboji. This summer, Jeff and Misty Sweezy, their two biological sons, Lynux, 14, and Zander, 12 — and their six Boys Town sons, had the opportunity to enjoy the camp. For five of the six boys, in the Boys Town program, it was the first time at the lakeside recreation center.</p><p>"This is the first vacation some of these kids have ever been on," Misty Sweezy said. "We want them to learn how to enjoy themselves. The kids start getting excited and talking about this trip in April. June each year the kids start coming."</p><p>The Seventh Annual Blue Water Bash, scheduled for Saturday, July 28, helps provide funding to support the campers visits as well as the infrastructure and maintenance of the Boys Town Okoboji Camp. The event will feature a cocktail reception beginning at 6:30 p.m. on-site, with an evening including a silent and live auction and music by Jonah and the Whales.</p><p>"They needed to raise money for the camp so they started the Blue Water Bash," said Jeff Sweezy, calling the event "extremely important" for the future of the Boys Town summer visits.</p><p>"The generous community of Okoboji has stepped up, year after year, to support the Blue Water Bash which has enabled Boys Town to renovate and preserve our camp for future generations of Boys Town youth and family-teachers to enjoy." said Melissa Steffes, Boys Town development officer. "We are so grateful to our sponsors and guests for their support of Boys Town and our Okoboji Camp."</p><p>Eva Shine, a neighbor to the Boys Town Camp, is co-chairing this year's Blue Water Bash with Suzie Wilmot.</p><p>"We are very excited for this year's event which benefits the camp, allowing many children in need of a chance at a once in a life time vacation in Okoboji," Shine said</p><p>She continued, "The Boys Town children have endured many struggles and crises beyond what most of us can imagine — abuse, abandonment, addiction, violence. Boys Town sees the potential in these children and believes every child deserves a future. The children have the opportunity to earn the reward of attending the Okoboji camp. Some of these children have never had a vacation, let alone owned a swimsuit. We are all so lucky to live in and enjoy the Iowa Great Lakes region. I think it is important to help those who aren't as lucky to have a chance at a break from their everyday struggles."</p><p>According to Steffes, the last two years Blue Water Bash have grossed $110,000 and netted approximately $72,000.</p><p>"This year our goal is to raise $150,000 and net $100,000," she added.</p><p>"We continue to make improvements in order to update the facility to make it more appealing to the neighbors in this beautiful neighborhood and to make it a more enjoyable place for the children in our care," said Rev. Steven Boes, Boys Town national executive director. "Many Boys Town kids have never been camping or on family vacations and this is a wonderful, fun and memorable experience for them. Many of our Boys Town alumni have expressed to me that this was some of the most fun they had, besides Christmas holidays, at Boys Town."</p><p>The Sweezys aren't strangers to the Okoboji site, the two met in the 1990s at Boys Town before marrying in 2002. They are the first married couple serving as family teachers who are both products of the program.</p><p>Young people come to Boys Town through three different avenues in most cases, privately placed, foster care or court placed.</p><p>Jeff Sweezy came to Boys Town in 1995 as a sixth-grade student when his mother struggled after his father passed away. Misty Sweezy joined Boys Town in her eighth-grade year in 1997, along with three siblings, after her parents passed away. They didn't know each other until their senior year of high school when they became friends. The two married in 2002, following graduation and prior to Jeff Sweezy's deployment with the U.S. Army.</p><p>After completing his military career, the two returned to Omaha hoping to become involved with Boys Town once again. Misty Sweezy went to work at Boys Town in staff positions. They had hoped to serve as family teachers but their application was rejected.</p><p>"It's tough to get hired," Misty Sweezy said. "Initially they said it was too soon, we had just graduated. We were hurt."</p><p>In hindsight, they both agreed Boys Town knew what it was doing.</p><p>"We matured," Jeff Sweezy said. "We got our marriage strong."</p><p>The family moved to Florida in 2009 before returning to Omaha in 2015 and getting hired as family teachers.</p><p>"It's difficult to do what we do — live together, work together," Jeff Sweezy said. "If your marriage is not strong, it can tear you apart."</p><p>Boys Town, which celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2017, includes 75 homes, an elementary and middle school, high school and public services. In the late 1970s, Boys Town was opened up to girls and in the 1980s satellite sites opened.</p><p>"We provide a family home environment," Misty Sweezy said. "They have chores and rules. We teach social skills, accepting decisions, how to express feelings.</p><p>She continued, "We get the kid and figure out what area they are struggling with. We set goals for them. There are always goals they are trying to reach. And there are a lot of goals they achieve."</p><p>"We treat everyone of these kids as if they are our own," Jeff Sweezy said.</p><p>The Sweezys recently had three boys graduate high school and currently maintain their home in Boys Town with the six boys ranging in age from 14 to 18. The couple receives help from an assistant family teacher who works five days a week, logging 45 hours and allows them two days off each week.</p><p>A bill of $90, in the winter of 1917, was enough for Rev. Edward Flanagan to rent out a boarding house in Omaha after working with the area's homeless population. Flanagan's Home for Boys became what is now known as Boys Town, a nonprofit which helps to foster better lives for at-risk youth.</p><p>Jeff Sweezy said Flannagan was assisting those with life challenges when one of those men in his care suggested to him things might have been different "if you had got me when I was younger."</p><p>He said it was that train of thought which prompted the priest to begin working with five boys in 1917.</p><p>The Catholic priest introduced the children to rules and responsibility while allowing them to keep their personal religion. Unlike many reform schools at the time, Flannagan believed there was more to dealing with the children than just making them work, according to Jeff Sweezy.</p><p>"The president sent him to Europe to teach how to care for children differently," Jeff Sweezy said. "He became a pioneer in how to care for children. ... He taught them how to become productive members of society after Boys Town."</p><p>It's those principles, 100 years later, which lead Boys Town today — fulfilling its motto, "Saving Children, Healing Families." Still based in Omaha, Nebraska, the camp, which was once located on the outskirts of the city, is now at the center of the community.</p><p>The Boys Town Okoboji Camp, situated in the Terrace Park neighborhood of Okoboji, was gifted to Boys Town in 1952 with the hope of serving countless youth to come. It has since provided Boys Town youth and families with a fun filled summer at the lake. Originally a casino and night club built in 1923, it became a famous landmark because of its location in upscale Terrace Park. A 1936 tornado practically destroyed the surrounding subdivision and the rebuilding process was very slow. In 1939 Dr. H.O. Green and his wife gave the facility to the Catholic congregation of the Missionaries of Our Lady of LaSalette. The ballroom and open porches were renovated to make the building a seminary and became classrooms, dormitories and a chapel. The seminary became a boys camp in 1941, but was soon vacated by the LaSalettes and left empty. In 1952 the property was given to Boys Town in conjunction with the Green's wish that it serve the needs of youth.</p><p>Corporate and company sponsorships for the Blue Water Bash are available and tickets are $100 and can be purchased online at <a href="/Okoboji" target="_blank">boystown.org/Okoboji</a> or by calling Melissa Steffes at 402-498-1795.</p>2018-07-24T05:00:00ZNewsIowa;#Nebraska;#
Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Boys Town Iowa’s Fathers Matter Event is a Collaborative Effort with Strong Community Support Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Boys Town Iowa’s Fathers Matter Event is a Collaborative Effort with Strong Community Support <p>Saturday, June 9, Boys Town Iowa partnered with FAMILY, Inc., Council Bluffs Fire Department, Pottawattamie County Sheriff's Office, Promise Partners-Pottawattamie County's Alliance for Youth and Super Saver Council Bluffs to host the Fathers Matter Community Celebration at Tom Hanafan River's Edge Park.</p><p>The event activities, food and beverages were free to over 400 attendees who came out to celebrate the importance of a father's role on a child's life.</p><p>Patrick Garcia, Community Engagement Developer, Boys Town Iowa, talked about how positive father engagement has been directly correlated to the child's wellbeing. Children with active father figures tend to have better cognitive development, educational achievement, higher self-esteem and pro-social behaviors.</p><p>The Fathers Matter Community Celebration was a wonderful way to promote these healthy relationships between fathers and children and it gave them the opportunity to come out and spend quality time with each other. The event included a bike rodeo where kids received bike helmets and five bikes were given away. Kite flying was also a huge hit and over 100 kites were given away so fathers and children had an activity to do together after the event.</p><p>"When fathers don't live with their kids the level of their involvement varies greatly," said Garcia. "This is mainly due to the co-parenting relationship with the mother and is the main predictor of the father's involvement. The Fathers Matter event is also a platform to bring awareness to the importance of strong co-parenting relationships and enhancement of father's access to their children during co-parenting relationships."</p><p>This year's success was due to the collaboration of many partners and sponsors within Pottawattamie County of Iowa and the metropolitan area of Council Bluffs and Omaha. Without the support of local government, local business, service providers, and volunteers the event would have been less meaningful and purposeful.</p>2018-07-03T05:00:00ZNews<img alt="Fathers Matter" src="/locations/iowa/news-and-events/PublishingImages/062718_FathersMatter.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />Iowa;#
Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Healthy Families Drive raises record amount for Boys Town Iowa Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Healthy Families Drive raises record amount for Boys Town Iowa <p> <em>​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​This article is written by Tim Johnson. It was posted on <a href="http://www.nonpareilonline.com/news/iowa/healthy-families-drive-raises-record-amount-for-boys-town-iowa/article_c7041838-4feb-11e8-a1a3-4b4c04f7321d.html" target="_blank">nonpareilonline.com</a></em>; May 5, 2018.</p><p>The third annual Healthy Families Drive set another record, yielding more than 9,000 pounds of household and hygiene products for Boys Town Iowa clients, officials announced Friday at the organization's Council Bluffs office.</p><p>That's a quantum leap from last year's total of 5,700 pounds.</p><p>There was an earth-shaking change in the battle between the Red Team, led by the Council Bluffs Fire Department; and the Blue Team, led by the Council Bluffs Police Department. For the first time in the drive's history, the Blue Team won decisively, gathering 5,100 pounds of products, compared to 3,900 pounds for the Red Team.</p><p>Boys Town Iowa kicked off the drive at the beginning of April at Roosevelt Elementary School and Wilson Middle School. Many other schools from both Council Bluffs and Lewis Central Community School Districts also participated in the drive, along with community partners Iowa Western Community College, CHI Health Mercy Hospital, Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital and Google. Collection boxes were placed at local Hy-Vee Food Stores, Hy-Vee Drugstore, The Center, Council Bluffs Fire Department stations, the Council Bluffs Police Department and some local churches and schools.</p><p>Collaboration this year was "wonderful," said Debbie Orduna, executive director of Boys Town Iowa.</p><p>"Every weekend, we had people at Super Saver and Hy-Vee collecting things," she said. "It's just been another great year of the community coming together."</p><p>Last year, the Red Team collected 3,600 pounds of products to outpace the Blue Team, which gathered 2,100 pounds.</p><p>The drive makes a difference for many local families, Orduna said.</p><p>"Last year, we helped 600 children from over 300 families — just from this event," she said. "As a whole, Boys Town served 2,400 children in Iowa."</p><p>The agency also made a difference for Lynn Poe, a Council Bluffs woman who was in an abusive relationship and using meth, like her partner.</p><p>"A year ago when I got involved in the system, I was broken," she told staff members and volunteers gathered for the announcement. "Suicide was an everyday thought, and addiction was" a way of life. "It was a situation where, with the drugs and abuse, it seemed like there was n​​o way out."</p><p>Poe called Boys Town.</p><p>"I said, 'I don't want this life for my children, and I don't want this life for me,'" she recalled.</p><p>Boys Town referred Poe to Iowa Family Works, a rehab program operated by Heartland Family Service that offers residential treatment for women and space for their children. After 30 days required for addicts to detoxify, Poe's two daughters were able to move in with her there.</p><p>"For the first time in a long time, I had hope," she said. "I thought I owed it to my children to take a chance and try to make it work."</p><p>Poe took parenting classes from Boys Town and took advantage of its free closet.</p><p>"Boys Town has been not just life-changing in my life but lifesaving," she said. "If the drugs hadn't killed me, I would have killed myself."</p><p>After rehab, Poe and her daughters stayed at Catholic Charities Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault shelter.</p><p>Now, they have their own apartment, and Poe is volunteering at Sequels Thrift Store to establish a work history.</p><p>Boys Town began offering in-home services in Iowa in 1989 through an office in Glenwood. It opened a Council Bluffs office in 2006 and moved to 1851 Madison Avenue in 2007. The organization closed its office on Madison at the end of 2016 and opened at its current location.</p><div class="hidden-gal"> ​<a class="image-group cboxElement" href="/locations/iowa/PublishingImages/Drive1.jpg" title="Healthy Family Drive"> </a><a class="image-group cboxElement" href="/locations/iowa/PublishingImages/Drive3.jpg" title="Healthy Family Drive"> </a><a class="image-group cboxElement" href="/locations/iowa/PublishingImages/Drive4.jpg" title="Healthy Family Drive"> </a><a class="image-group cboxElement" href="/locations/iowa/PublishingImages/Drive5.jpg" title="Healthy Family Drive"> ​ </a></div>​2018-05-08T05:00:00ZNews<img alt="Healthy family drive" src="/locations/iowa/PublishingImages/Drive2.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />Iowa;#
Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Saturday event seeks to raise awareness about child abuse Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Saturday event seeks to raise awareness about child abuse <p><em></em><a href="http://www.nonpareilonline.com/news/special_coverage/saturday-event-seeks-to-raise-awareness-about-child-abuse/article_51d8cda0-4029-11e8-8c2e-5fcfac0d64a8.html" target="_blank"><em>This article is written by Jon Leu. It was posted on nonpareilonline.com April 15, 2018.</em></a></p><p>Some 50 residents of Council Bluffs and Omaha gathered in the Tom Hanafan Rivers Edge Park Pavilion on a cold, blustery and damp Saturday morning as the mayors of Council Bluffs, Omaha and Boys Town read proclamations establishing April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.</p><p>Those attending were initially scheduled to meet at the center of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, but the session was moved to the pavilion because of the weather — a change of plans that pleased Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, who commented that the bridge tends to "sway a bit in the wind," which, she quipped, is sometimes a "nauseating" condition.</p><p>In her proclamation, Stothert noted that the statistics tell a "terrible story."</p><p>"Nearly four million cases of child maltreatment are reported each year in the United States; nearly five children die each day from abuse," she said. "Over 50 percent of these children are under the age of three. Still, these estimates are known to be under-reported."</p><p>Like Stothert, who noted "Child abuse prevention is a community responsibility," Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh said, "Child abuse is a community issue, and finding solutions depends on involvement and partnerships among people throughout the community."</p><p>Boys Town Mayor Ti'Jaih Davis joined Walsh and Stothert in calling for partnerships among parents, practitioners, schools, faith communities, health care organizations, law enforcement agencies, community leaders, politicians and the business community to protect and support children, collaborate with professionals and engage the community to end child abuse and neglect.</p><p>"Iowa's children are one of the most precious resources in our state and provide the hope for a brighter tomorrow in Iowa," Walsh said. "Protecting children is everyone's business.</p><p>"All citizens need to be more aware of child abuse and neglect and its prevention within the community," he said, and be involved in supporting parents to raise their children in a safe, nurturing society.</p><p>Walsh noted that several agencies, including Prevent Child Abuse Iowa, the Prevent Child Abuse committee of Promise Partners, Pottawattamie County's Alliance for Children and Families and the Shaken Baby Task Force have joined forces here to raise public awareness regarding child abuse and neglect.</p><p>Patricia Russmann, executive director of Promise Partners in Council Bluffs, said Saturday's event was the fifth annual gathering for Proclamation on the Bridge. She said gathering in the center of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge symbolizes the combined efforts of agencies on both sides of the river in combatting child abuse and neglect, a problem that knows no state lines.</p><p>In thanking those from various organizations attending the event for their efforts to combat child abuse and neglect, Russmann highlighted the ongoing efforts of Bikers Against Child Abuse for that organization's continued strong support.</p>2018-04-16T05:00:00ZNews<img alt="Staff Photo/Joe Shearer" src="/news/PublishingImages/Mayor-Photo.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />Iowa;#