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pat-garcia-honored-by-council-bluffs-chamberPat Garcia Honored by Council Bluffs ChamberIowa
Pat Garcia
Thursday, Jul 27, 2017

​Boys Town is dedicated to saving children and healing families, but what you might not know is that we are also dedicated to fostering leaders within our community. That's why we want to give a big congratulations to Pat Garcia, Boys Town Iowa Community Engagement Developer, for being a graduate of Leadership Council Bluffs Class 29.

Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Leadership Council Bluffs Alumni Association, designed the Leadership Council Bluffs program to identify, motivate and inform future leaders in the Council Bluffs community. Applicants were selected for this yearlong, graduate-level program based on their leadership potential and commitment to their community.

"I learned about my leadership style and personality traits that may have a different effect on my leadership with certain groups and individuals," said Garcia. "Being aware of these traits and understanding others' perspectives and passions allows for clearer communication." Garcia was also educated about the history of Council Bluffs, the economic development of Council Bluffs, health systems, public safety, county and city government, legislative policy and practice, and nonprofit/social services.

Along with the coursework, the program divided the group to work on a Community Trustee Project that will make a lasting impact on the community. Garcia's group developed an initiative to partner with VODEC (Vocational Development Center), an organization dedicated to provide services to peoples with disabilities, to host a reverse job fair. This event allowed persons with disabilities the opportunity to network with employers, get advice on resumes and establish internship and other employment opportunities.

"Pat's growth during this program has furthered his knowledge of the needs of our children and families in Iowa," said Debbie Orduna, Boys Town Iowa Executive Director. "He has served as a passionate, dedicated leader and has had a lasting impact on the Council Bluffs community."

This program not only gave Garcia the knowledge needed to enhance his leadership style, but also gave him a vast network of contacts for potential collaboration, positive relationships with others who uplift Council Bluffs and the opportunity to share Boy Town's mission and vision with the community he loves.

boys-town-iowa-receives-45000-for-in-home-workBoys Town Iowa receives $45,000 for in-home workIowa
Thursday, Jul 20, 2017

This article is written by Tim Johnson. It was posted on on July 19, 2017. 

Boys Town has been awarded a $70,000 grant from United Way of the Midlands that will help fund programs in Iowa and Nebraska.

Boys Town Iowa received $45,000 of the grant for its In-Home Family Services, and Boys Town received $25,000 for its Ways to Work program in South Omaha, a press release from Boys Town stated.

"We are very grateful for the continued support of United Way of the Midlands," the Rev. Steven Boes, Boys Town president and national executive director, said in the release. "This grant allows us to continue to offer important services to families in need of them."

The funding for Boys Town Iowa represents a renewal of an annual grant the In-Home Family Services program first received in 2015, according to Debbie Orduna, executive director of Boys Town Iowa. Boys Town Iowa has worked with almost 100 youth since it partnered with United Way.

Boys Town Iowa has 50 family services consultants scattered throughout the 30 western Iowa counties the program serves, Orduna said. The consultants work with families on behavioral and parenting issues, often after a referral by a school, and are available 24 hours a day to help families manage crises.

The staff works closely with parents and school officials to design a service plan for each youth. The goal is to give parents the tools they need to be successful and keep children safe and in their own homes.

"Oftentimes, families being referred to us, there are pretty complex issues," she said. "We're able to go in, conduct an assessment and provide direct services, but also to make sure they have access to other services they might need."

Boys Town Iowa will collaborate with FAMILY Inc. of Council Bluffs to provide health education, transportation to appointments, health screening and preventive oral health services to children that Boys Town consultants will refer, according to the release.

Boys Town Iowa also serves many families through its Common-Sense Parenting classes and Hope 4 Iowa crisis line, Orduna said.

Boys Town, in partnership with Heartland Family Service, now offers Ways to Work at the South Omaha Boys Town office. The Ways to Work program will provide small, short-term, low-interest loans to 40 to 50 low-income families on a yearly basis, as well as financial education, one-on-one credit and financial coaching and case management throughout the life of the loan.

fathers-matter-event-shows-need-for-fathers-engagementFathers Matter Event Shows Need for Fathers EngagementIowa
Fathers Matter
Monday, Jul 10, 2017

​Father Flanagan believed fathers played an important role in their children's lives. Throughout his lifetime, he was a 'father' to over four thousand boys and believed that, "Every father has a great responsibility in raising his son. In his hands rest, to a large extent, what course in life the boy will follow."

Father Flanagan's concept lives on today in the form of the Fathers Matter Day event. This local initiative was inspired by two national movements, the National Center for Fathering and the National Fathering movement, which promote the importance of active fathering. Fathers Matter Day is centered on a push for an increase in engagement from fathers.

Boys Town Iowa recently partnered with the Pottawattamie County Sherriff's Office to host the Fathers Matter event to engage the community. Pat Garcia, Community Engagement Developer, Boys Town Iowa Family Services and Lieutenant Sam Arkfeld from the Pottawattamie Country Sherriff's Office led the event held on Saturday June 10, 2017 in hopes of providing more than services, but rather a day to get fathers involved with their children.

The partnership between Boys Town Iowa and the Pottawattamie Country Sherriff's Office formed through mutual interest in a preventative measure. Through research, they found a large portion of families in the community were without a father figure.

"Nationally, one out of three children lives without their biological father in the home," Garcia said. "Children that grow up without a father figure are four times more at risk of living in poverty and engaging in crime."

Over 300 families and children attended the Fathers Matter Event at Tom Hanafan's River Edge Park in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Around two dozen community organizations were involved in the fun filled day and set up booths with various activities for families to participate in. The 27 different booths ranged from kite flying, to rocket launching and even included a hair stylist station to teach fathers how to braid hair. No matter the activity, all the booths focused on the idea of providing fathers with an opportunity to get involved with their children through fun activities to reestablish and build stronger bonds.

Boys Town Iowa has plans of continuing this event annually with the Pottawattamie County Sherriff's Office in hopes of involving the whole community while engaging families.

"Looking forward, we hope to utilize our Common Sense Parenting classes specifically for fathers in Pottawattamie County while raising awareness and providing avocation for fathering within the community," Garcia said.

BT-iowa-staff-awarded-by-iowas-coalition-for-family-and-childrens-servicesBoys Town Iowa Staff Awarded by Iowa’s Coalition for Family and Children’s ServicesIowa
Iowa staff earns award
Friday, Jun 16, 2017

On March 16, 2017 two Boys Town Iowa staff members were recognized for their efforts by the Iowa's Coalition for Family and Children's Services. The Iowa Coalition for Family and Children's Services was established in 1979. It was founded to serve as an alliance for agencies that work to strengthen services for Iowa's children and families.

Every year, the Iowa Coalition for Family and Children's Services chooses a select number of individuals from the many agencies across the state of Iowa who serve children and families whose accomplishments and passions closely align with the organization.

Jeff Hackett, Director of Community Engagement for Boys Town Iowa, was awarded the Tom Lewis Memorial Award and Keely Heitland, In-Home Family Services Supervisor, received the Sue Pitts-Fischer Memorial Award. The Iowa Coalition of Family and Children's Services selected Jeff and Keely for these honors due to their outstanding commitment and service to children and families within the community.

The Tom Lewis Memorial Award is awarded to individuals who show outstanding service, dedication, longevity and diversity in duties to children and families. Jeff received the Tom Lewis Memorial Award to recognize his similar accomplishments in service and dedication to children and families in Iowa.

"I hope this award is an indicator of how all our Boys Town Iowa employees share a commitment and compassion for the children and families we serve," Keely said.

Keely was awarded the Sue Pitts-Fischer Memorial Award to recognize her leadership, mentorship and advancement in practices for children and family services through public and private partnership.

"It was a wonderful surprise and honor to be nominated and presented with such an award, "she said. "Having been a supervisor for almost eight years, this award motivates me to continue to use my experience and knowledge to coach and develop staff as well as advocate for children and families at every level."

Sue Pitts-Fischer was a leader in the child welfare system in Iowa. She dedicated her life to meeting the needs of children and families. The Sue Pitts-Fischer Memorial Award is given to a social worker, family therapist, supervisor or administrator who has shown outstanding achievements within their careers.

"Sue Pitts-Fischer was a highly passionate and driven individual who spent her career working to improve the lives of Iowa children and families. Keely mirrors that passion, leadership, and commitment not only to children and families but also toward mentoring others in the field as Sue Pitts-Fischer did," Debbie Orduna, Executive Director, Boys Town Iowa said.

Jeff and Keely were chosen among many other individuals from numerous agencies across the state of Iowa.

"It is an honor for Keely and Jeff to be chosen from the many nominated for this honor. Boys Town is very fortunate to have them as part of our team in Iowa." Orduna said.

pottawattamie-county-board-to-show-some-fatherly-love-Pottawattamie County Board to Show Some Fatherly LoveIowa
Fathers Matter
Thursday, Jun 8, 2017

Photo credit to Joe Shearer

This article is written by Tim Rohwer. It was posted on on May 31, 2017.

Pottawattamie County wants to show some fatherly love to children who really need it.

The county's Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to contribute $1,000 towards the costs of the Fathers Matters Community Celebration, aimed at showing the importance of children having a father.

"Fathers have become an icon of the family," said Patrick Garcia, community outreach developer for Boys Town National Research Hospital. "We need to get them reconnected with children."

The local celebration, a joint venture by Boys Town Iowa and the Pottawattamie County Sheriff's Department, will be held on June 10, the weekend prior to Father's Day, at Tom Hanafan River Front Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Free and open to the public, the event will involve various activities ideal for dads spending a fun afternoon with their children.

Activities planned include kite flying, a bike rodeo, booth games, arts and crafts and more.

Statistics provided by Garcia clearly show the disadvantages of children not having a father in their lives.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24.7 million children, or 33 percent of the total children's population, live absent their biological father. Nearly 57 percent of black children live absent their biological father, while 31 percent of Hispanic children are in the same situation as are 20 percent of causcasian children.

Children growing up in a household where the father is involved in crime are four times more likely to land in prison than other children, Garcia said.

Garcia, who has sought financial and in-kind help from various entities, received a $1,000 pledge from the board to help pay for costs.

In other action, the board approved the purchase of three recycling containers to be located around the county.

"It's to increase awareness and availability of recycling to rural residents," said Matt Wyant, planning director.

The blue containers should arrive within two months, with one of them placed in the Crescent area, another in the Underwood area and the third at the county's waste transfer station.


red-vs-blue-raising-funds-to-help-familiesTeam Red vs. Team Blue: Competition Raising Funds to Help Iowa Families Iowa
FD high fives kids
Tuesday, Apr 11, 2017

This article is written by Krystal Sidzyik. It was posted April 4, 2017 on

It's a battle for the ages.

In one corner: The Council Bluffs Police Department. representing Team Blue. In the other corner: The Council Bluffs Fire Department, representing Team Red.

The competition: To see who can collect the most hygiene and household products to benefit Boys Town Iowa.

Will the fire department retain their bragging rights and traveling trophy this year or will the police department snag the win?

This is the second year Boys Town Iowa has teamed up with local organizations and schools to host the competition that will benefit area families.

Last year, nine barrels were placed at different sites in the community, collecting 2,000 pounds of household and hygiene products — which is the equivalent of a fully-grown polar bear.

This year, more than 50 barrels have been placed in the community at 30 different sites. More information on drop box locations can be found online at

Organizations participating this year include Google, Mercy Hospital, Jennie Edmundson Hospital, Iowa Western Community College and 11 schools from the Council Bluffs and Lewis Central Community School Districts.

A representative of Team Red, Hoover Elementary hosted a kick-off event Friday morning during a school assembly.

Fifth-grade students in the talented and gifted program helped organize the event, dressing as different hygiene products and performing a skit on stage to help garner support and excitement from other students about the competition.

"This project encompassed creativity and put them out of their comfort zone," said Rhonda Leffler, TAG curriculum specialist. "It's an opportunity that they wouldn't have had otherwise."

Students will collect products all month. The class that collects the most will be awarded an extra recess. Students will also wear red on Fridays in support of the event.

"I think it's a great idea," said Dave Andersen with the fire department. "It's good public awareness and helps with the community."

Items needed include shampoo, conditioner, unscented deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, lotion, disposable razors, toilet paper, paper towels, Kleenex, laundry detergent, all-purpose cleaners, glass cleaner, rags and sponges, buckets, dishwasher detergent, bathroom cleaners, sanitizer, diapers and baby wipes, baby bottles and sippy cups, childproofing accessories, bug bombs and ant traps. Items donated must be full-size, new and unopened.

Boys Town Iowa serves more than 1,000 families and more than 2,000 children every year. The organization helps families and parents experiencing poverty by donating basic need items like hygiene and cleaning supplies to area families.

"Many of our families are suffering from drug addiction or alcohol abuse," said Patrick Garcia, community engagement developer for Boys Town Iowa. "In order to provide appropriate parenting to children — when we're helping families learn those skills — we also help them to have the products available to help keep the children safe and healthy."

The competition will continue through April. A winner will be announced during a celebration from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 4 at the Boys Town Iowa office, 1702 W. Broadway, Suite 17.

The celebration will be open to the public, and food and refreshments will be provided. A fire truck, police cruisers and the K-9 unit will be at the event.

"It's pretty neat to see how the community actually got behind this," Garcia said. "This week, more than 190 shirts will be delivered to community members and on the back it says, 'A community that makes a difference,' and I truly believe that's what happened this year."

boys-town-a-beacon-of-hope-for-troubled-youthBoys Town: A Beacon of Hope for Troubled YouthIowa
Thursday, Dec 29, 2016

​​​​​​​This story aired on CBS Sunday Morning and was posted on on December 25, 2016.

"There's no place like home." Rarely is that truer than this time of year. Our Christmas Cover Story is all about a very special home for some very needy children, as reported by Tony Dokoupil:

Right near the midpoint of America, ten miles outside of Omaha, Nebraska, there's a town that sits between childhood and whatever comes after.

"These young people are about to become citizens of the most famous village in the world," said Father Stephen Boes at a swearing-in ceremony.

In this town, almost every kid is at a crossroads -- and the goal of all the grown-ups here is to help kids leave Boys Town behind.

"I do solemnly promise … that I will be a good citizen."

Eighteen-year-old Chase Pruss, from Dodge, Neb., was sworn in here six months ago --  arriving, like a lot of the kids, straight from jail.

"I took the school safe," he said.  "Just for money. For Beer money. And gas money. And buy cigarettes."

Two more break-ins followed, and Pruss ended up arrested in front of his bewildered parents. "My mom was crying, my dad was crying," he said.

He had run through four different schools, stolen and lied.

And he faced 80 years in prison, ​until a judge helped get him into Boys Town. "I ​​had that mindset of, "I never want to ever ​put myself in the position where I could land myself back in an orange jumpsuit," Pruss said. "I never ​wanted my ​jail ID ​number to say ​who I was."

Andre Harris (right) in class at Boys Town. CBS News

Seventeen-year-old Andre Harris came to Boys Town the same way.  Nearly three years ago, back in Amarillo, Texas, he stole a car, and ended up in juvenile detention.

"I didn't feel like I was gonna amount to anything after that," he told Dokoupil.  

Frankly, he didn't think he'd amount to much before jail, either. College seemed out of reach. He can't remember hearing someone say they were proud of him.

Dokoupil said of Boys Town, "More felons per capita here than any town in Nebraska."

"Probably!" Harris laughed. "But we're all doing our best to change."

Almost every week here at Boys Town, new boys (and since 1979, new girls, too) are sent by social workers, judges and desperate parents. Most of the kids have been unable to live anywhere else without getting in trouble.

And Boys Town is their last chance.

"A lot of people would say they're bad kids," Dokoupil said. "Is that how they see themselves when they get here?"

"Some of our kids do," replied Tony Jones, one of Boys Town's "family teachers." "They see themselves as, you know, on the bottom of the totem pole."

And how do they change that mindset? "You show them that this is your decision. This is your life."

Jones and his wife, Simone, run one of 55 homes on campus. Eight Boys Town children live there like a family, alongside the Jones' three biological kids.

"Every single young man that has come through my home has now become a part of my family," Jones said.

This is a large part of what makes Boys Town so powerful; all 360 kids living here have paid Boys Town parents like Tony and Simone.

"It's a professional, full-time Dad, brother, uncle, cousin -- whatever my boys may need me to be at that particular time in their life, that, then, is who I become for them," Jones said.

Tony Jones and his wife, Simone, and three children share their home with eight Boys Town students. CBS News​

He began at Boys Town as a boy himself. He was born to a shattered family in Detroit. "I can recall my brother and I standing at a bus stop, and it was in the dead of winter. And we only had one pair of socks to share between the two us," Jones laughed.

But then a priest gave the Jones brothers a chance to change their lives at Boys Town. "It was a total transformation," he said.

Dokoupil asked, "Where do you think you would be if you had said no to Boys Town?"

"Oh, two places: I would either be incarcerated, or I would be dead."

Father Edward Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town. CBS News

The Jones story is typical of a hundred years of stories at Boys Town, which began in 1917 as Father Flanagan's Home for Boys. The most beloved clergyman in America, he created arguably the most famous reform school in the world.

Of his charges, Father Flanagan said, "His bruised and tortured heart and mind must be nursed back to normal health through kindness."

You may remember a 1938-Oscar winning movie about the place starring Spencer Tracy. But what you probably don't know is it's a real town, with a real post office and police department.

At about $65,000 per student per year, Boys Town is comparable to a top private college -- and it's mostly taxpayers footing the bill.

But taxpayers pay for prisons, too -- more than $39 billion a year nationally. Boys Town says it can help keep those prison cells empty, while nearly doubling the chance that these students will graduate from high school.

Dokoupil asked Jones, "How do you avoid coming in and being just another person telling them all the things they're doing wrong?"

"By telling them all the things they're doing right," Jones replied. "That's how you help kids change. It's being able to say, 'Hey, young man, you did a good job this morning getting up.'"

"It almost sounds like a joke."

"Well, you know something? That little praise goes a long way."

That little praise goes all the way back to Father Flanagan's ​founding idea: "There are no bad boys."

And if that all sounds too pat to be successful … well, the results say otherwise.

When asked where he would be without Boys Town, Chase Pruss replied, "I'd be in lockup." As did another.

And if that all sounds too pat to be successful, just listen to the results. Tesharr said, "I've been here for a short amount of time. But since my first day I didn't feel like I was in a place where I couldn't leave. I felt like I was home."

Of course, the Boys Town way does not work for every child who comes here; there are failures. But for Chase's parents, Dan and Trish, it's been nothing short of a Christmas miracle.

Dokoupil asked them, "Who was Chase before Boys Town and who is he today?"

"He was dishonest, disrespectful, a thief," said his mother. "And now he is the Chase that I always wanted him to be."

For Andre Harris, the change has been no less dramatic since stealing that car. "It's not even the same person," he said.

And how is he different? "My actions, the way I speak. I've grown up. I've become a young man."

He's a school leader now … a star on the track team … and he's just found out he's headed to college next year.

But first, he's headed to Amarillo for the holidays … a place he hasn't seen in nearly three years. It's a place that Boys Town has been preparing him for since the very day he made his grand theft exit:

It's home.

"This is my Christmas gift," Robert Harris told Dokoupil. "This is all I wanted!"

Andre Harris is welcomed by neighbors back home in Amarillo, Texas. CBS News
addict-to-advocate-relishes-roleFrom Addict to Advocate, This Mom Relishes Role as MentorIowa
(Front, left to right) Kailee and Jada; (Back, left to right) Jennifer, Jeanette and Isaiah
Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016

​​Her first experience with methamphetamines happened when she was just a teen. That encounter launched what would become a debilitating relationship that shadowed her life for years.

Jeanette dabbled in drugs throughout early adulthood, only stopping when she became a mom. Raising three children offered enough distraction and motivation to keep her sober. But drugs were never far away.

When Jeanette's marriage soured, she returned to meth and spiraled into addiction.   

Alarmed by her condition, a relative contacted the Iowa Department of Human Services. The children were immediately removed from the home, and the family was referred to Boys Town Iowa In-Home Family Services® for support and counseling.

When Boys Town services began, Jeanette was defensive and dishonest.

"I was anything but easy in the beginning," remembered Jeanette. "I was still in my addiction and didn't think people should be invading my space."

Overcoming Jeanette's manipulations and suspicions took patience and effort. Boys Town Family Consultant Jennifer Everman-Kelley met weekly with the family, supervising Jeanette's visits with her children, listening to everyone's concerns and showing compassion without judgment.

Jennifer spent much of her time preparing the children – Isaiah, Jada and Kailee – for family reunification. Jennifer taught the siblings safety skills and safety planning so they would know what to do and who to call if any situation became confusing or threatening.

As for Jeanette, Jennifer gave her the resources, encouragement and confidence to "change playgrounds."​

"Jeanette needed to get away from hurtful relationships and bad environments that endangered her recovery and instead surround herself with a sober-support network," explained Jennifer​

council-bluffs-office-moving-locationsCouncil Bluffs Office Moving LocationsIowa
Monday, Dec 5, 2016

​​​​​​​​​​​​Boys Town Iowa staff in Council Bluffs will be moving to a new office on December 19th!

We will move our Council Bluffs operations to a new ​​​location at 1702 West Broadway, ​Suite 17, ​​​Council Bluffs, IA 51501.  Phone ​​​numbers will change on that date also. 

Main Number712-302-7900
Debbie Orduna712-302-7901
Jessica Bothwell712-302-7902
Gina Bullard712-302-7903
Debbie Carnes712-302-7904
Jane Drake712-302-7905
Lacy Dube712-302-7906
Sonya Fittje712-302-7907
Pat Garcia712-302-7908
Chris Jackson712-302-7909
Carli Wiese712-302-7911
Carrie Ausdemore712-302-7912

Thank you for your patience if we are slow to get back to you on the 19th.  ​

united-states-mint-unveils-designs-for-boys-town-centennial-commemorative-coinsUnited States Mint Unveils Designs for Boys Town Centennial Commemorative CoinsCalifornia, Iowa
Wednesday, Aug 24, 2016

​​​This press release was published on August 23, 2016.

Designs for coins commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of Boys Town were unveiled today during a ceremony at Boys Town Music Hall in Boys Town, Neb.

"Each time a person looks at any one of these unique designs, it will spark an interest in learning about the history of Boys Town, acknowledging the extraordinary efforts made by this organization to give comfort and purpose to children in need, and recognizing the significant contributions of Father Flanagan," said United States Mint Principal Deputy Director Rhett Jeppson.

Jeppson was joined by Boys Town​ representatives Cordell Cade and Kymani Bell, mayor and vice mayor, respectively; Dan Daly, Executive Vice President, Director of ​Youth Care; and Jerry Davis, Vice President of Advocacy.

Public Law 114-30 authorizes the Mint to mint and issue no more than 50,000 $5 gold, 350,000 $1 silver, and 300,000 half dollar clad coins with designs emblematic of the centennial of Boys Town. 

The gold coin obverse (heads) features a portrait of Father Flanagan.  Inscriptions include "BOYS TOWN CENTENNIAL," "IN GOD WE TRUST," "FR. EDWARD FLANAGAN," "LIBERTY," and "2017."  The obverse was designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Designer Donna Weaver and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart.

The gold coin reverse (tails) features an outstretched hand holding a young oak tree growing from an acorn.  As ​stated in the idiom "Mighty oaks from little acorns grow," this design represents the potential of each child helped by Boys Town to grow into a productive, complete adult.  Inscriptions include "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "THE WORK WILL CONTINUE," "FIVE DOLLARS," and "E PLURIBUS UNUM."  The reverse was also designed by Weaver and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Jim Licaretz.

The silver $1 coin obverse features a young girl sitting alone and gazing upward into the branches of an oak tree looking for help.  The empty space around the girl is deliberate and meant to show the child's sense of loneliness, isolation, and helplessness.  Inscriptions include "BOYS TOWN," "When you help a child today...," "IN GOD WE TRUST," "LIBERTY," and "1917-2017."

The obverse was designed by AIP Designer Emily Damstra and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna. 

The coin's reverse features an oak tree offering shelter and a sense of belonging to the family holding hands below it, which includes the girl from the obverse.  Inscriptions include " write the history of tomorrow," "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "ONE DOLLAR," and "E PLURIBUS UNUM."  The reverse was also designed by Damstra and sculpted by Menna.

The clad half dollar obverse features an older brother holding the hand of his younger brother in 1917.  They walk toward Father Flanagan's Boys Home and the 1940s pylon representing what would become Boys Town.  Inscriptions include "BOYS TOWN," "1917," "2017," "IN GOD WE TRUST," "LIBERTY," and "Saving Children."  The obverse was designed by AIP Designer Chris Costello and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Renata Gordon.

The coin's reverse features a present-day Boys Town neighborhood of homes where children are schooled and nurtured by caring families.  Out of these homes come young adults who graduate from high school and the Boys Town program.  Inscriptions include "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "E PLURIBUS UNUM," "Healing Families," and "HALF DOLLAR."  The reverse was also designed by Costello and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill.

Pricing for the Boys Town Centennial Commemorative Coins will include surcharges-$35 for each $5 gold coin, $10 for each $1 silver coin, and $5 for each half dollar clad coin-which are authorized to be paid to Boys Town to carry out its cause of caring for and assisting children and families in underserved communities across America.

The Mint will announce the release date and additional pricing information for the Boys Town Centennial Commemorative Coins prior to their release in 2017.

boys-town-iowa-in-home-family-services-supervisor-heads-to-central-florida-to-assistBoys Town Iowa In-Home Family Services Supervisor Heads to Central Florida to AssistCentral Florida
Monday, Aug 15, 2016

​​​At the end of June, Keely Heitland, Sioux City’s In-Home Family Services Supervisor, traveled to Central Florida to assist the site’s In-Home Family Services (IHFS) program while their supervisor, Erica Vagle, is on maternity leave.

“I was excited to volunteer,” Heitland said. “I was intrigued by the idea to observe another site and how they deliver IHFS using the Boys Town Model."

While in Florida, Heitland has a similar role as she does in Iowa. She is supervising four consultants, providing consultation and support, as well as attending intakes and visits for observations to ensure quality services are provided.

“One of the things we say about using evidence-based practices is that our model should be replicable, which means that whether you are in Iowa or Central Florida, we should be using the same interventions and strategies and our hallmarks and model elements should be clearly consistent across the services we offer,” Bethany Lacey, Director, In-Home Family Services, Boys Town Central Florida, said.

”Having someone like Keely step in temporarily to fill our need has been a huge asset,” Lacey said. “She may not be familiar with all nuances of Central Florida, but she knows the model and she knows families and staff. A family in need is a family in need no matter where they live.” 

It has long been common practice for Boys Town to share staff between Family Home and Intervention and Assessment Centers.

“If one site is low on staff, it often happens that another site will send staff to help out,” Lacey said.

However, it isn’t as common for In-Home Family Services. Lacey’s hope is that what they’ve accomplished can be replicated and that other sites can use the lessons they’ve learned on how to organize such an experience.

Heitland also attends internal and external meetings in Vagle’s place, which “has allowed me to learn about other programs to assist Iowa in developing their site.”

Central Florida has a smaller IHFS program but offers more services within the continuum of care. The biggest difference Heitland has encountered is the “application of [the in-home services]” and how it “takes in consideration the many different consumers, grants and contractors” the site is working with.

“Florida’s programs are more preventative versus reactive,” she said, citing an example of working with families before they are court involved. “Florida also has the ability to provide multiple services within the Boys Town continuum and does well linking them.”

“I have enjoyed further learning about and observing the services within the continuum and hope to bring this knowledge back to Iowa to assist us in further grants and contracts,” she said.

spencer-office-moves-to-larger-locationSpencer Office Moves to Larger LocationIowa
Monday, Jul 11, 2016

​​The Boys ​Town office in Spencer, Iowa is approaching its five year anniversary since its opening in 2011. The office opened its doors in early July 2011 and during their first year, they were able to serve a total of 29 families and 61 youth. Since its opening, the office has continued to grow in the number of children and families they serve within the Spencer community and surrounding communities with 93 percent of the children they serve remaining in their homes.

“Over the past five years, the Boys Town Spencer Iowa office has established presence within the community as a high-quality family service provider,” In-Home Family Services Supervisor, CJ Bauman said. “We have built our knowledge base on services provided to families within the community.”

The office is moving to a larger office to accommodate the growing number of families they serve. This move will provide the office with additional space to conduct valuable employee meetings and to serve more families.

The new office is located in a neighborhood setting and CJ Bauman hopes this will help build their already established community relationships. “Consumers and client surveys have been very positive,” Bauman said. “The new move into a residential setting allows us the opportunity to really make our presence known in the neighborhood.”

In honor of its five year anniversary and new office space, the Spencer, Iowa office is hosting an open house. The open house will serve as an opportunity to invite community members into the office and educate them on the services they provide while building valuable relationships.

Congrats to the Spencer, Iowa office on five years of serving children and families!

firefighters-top-police-in-council-bluffs-drive-to-help-boys-townFirefighters Top Police in Council Bluffs Drive to Help Boys TownIowa
Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016

​​This article is written by Derek Sullivan of the World-Herald News Service. It was posted on on July 3, 2016.

The Council Bluffs Fire Department got bragging rights, the Council Bluffs Police Department got a roll of toilet paper and needy families in western Iowa received more than 2,000 pounds of household goods.

On Friday at Boys Town Iowa, local firefighters and police officers found out who won a monthlong contest between the two groups. Throughout June, the two agencies had drop boxes throughout Council Bluffs asking local residents to donate household goods to the families who work with Boys Town Iowa.

The fire department collected 1,109.5 pounds of household goods, roughly 110 more pounds than the police department.

Officer Jill Knotek, who represented police at the weigh-in, accepted the runner-up trophy, which consisted of a roll of toilet paper on a 6-inch pedestal.

“I’m definitely disappointed, but we gave them a run for their money,” Knotek said. “We worked very hard, but it’s OK because everyone wins in this scenario.”

Council Bluffs Assistant Fire Chief Jim Wheat said everyone in the fire department enjoys the running competitions with the police department and enjoys giving back to the citizens of Council Bluffs.

“We’ve got a lot of service-oriented guys,” Wheat said. “Council Bluffs is our community, too, and there are lots of stuff we can do to help the community.”

During the contest, local residents were asked to donate household items such as shampoo and conditioner, soap, deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste, toilet paper and laundry detergent.

Debbie Orduna, director of Boys Town Iowa, said she was shocked by the amount of donated items. She said it took more than two hours to weigh everything, and items kept arriving throughout Friday.

“It’s wonderful because there is a significant need. Many people take these items for granted,” she said. “The cost of those items can add up, and most of the families we are working with are dealing with poverty. To provide these items to families helps them keep their utilities on and helps make sure their rent or house payment is made.”

Boys Town Iowa helps families in 30 western Iowa counties, but the household items collected are expected to be handed out to families in Council Bluffs.

business-helps-cbpd-cbfd-collect-items-for-boys-townBusiness helps CBPD, CBFD collect items for Boys TownIowa
Rick Benson, EMS Division Chief for the CBFD, left, and Dale Schmitz, community affairs officer for the CBPD.
Monday, Jun 27, 2016

​​This article is written by Derek Sullivan. It was posted on on June 21, 2016.

The Heritage at Fox Run wanted to do something to help Council Bluffs police officers and Council Bluffs firefighters in their quest to donate hundreds of household items to Boys Town Iowa.

Lacy Jungman, director of sales and marketing for Heritage, said working with the community was the best solution.

All this week, anyone who tours the assisted living facility can decide whether the Council Bluffs Police Department or Council Bluffs Fire Department gets $10 worth of household goods, purchased by Heritage at Fox Run for an ongoing competition between the departments.

In June, the two agencies are collecting household goods, such as cleaning supplies and hygienic products, for Boys Town Iowa.

Boys Town Iowa helps families in 30 western Iowa counties, but the contest between the police and fire departments, called the Boys Town Iowa Drive, will make life easier for Council Bluffs families, said Debbie Orduna, director of Iowa operations.

Boys Town Iowa officials will name the winner of the contest and the amount of household goods collected on July 1.

Each department has six collection boxes located throughout Council Bluffs at the police station, fire department stations, local Hy-Vee grocery stores, Hy-Vee Drug Store and The Center on South Main Street.

Jungman said Heritage supports all three agencies (CBRD, CBFD, Boys Town Iowa) in the competition, so it made sense to help out.

“The Heritage at Fox Run is always looking for opportunities to give back to the community,” Jungman said. “Just as we wouldn’t want our elderly to choose between paying bills and necessary staples, we certainly don’t want others, including families with young children, to have to make that choice.”

Jungman said there are many similarities between the elderly and children.

“The goal of this drive is to ensure families have the supplies they need to live their daily lives,” she said.

“At times, we see seniors who are struggling to provide those same staples for themselves. Both generations are vulnerable age groups, and we felt it was a necessary gesture to give back.”

Jungman said Heritage spoke with Boys Town Iowa and the CBPD and CBFD and everyone was very excited for their help.

“Our hope is that we get a flood of people in our doors, and make a positive impact in the lives of families and children through our donations,” she said. “We are prepared for the Council Bluffs public to tour the community next week.”

teamwork-pays-as-officers-therapists-combine-expertiseTeamwork Pays as Officers, Therapists Combine ExpertiseIowa
Copyright Joe Shearer, The Daily NonPareil
Tuesday, Jun 21, 2016

​​This article is written by Tim Johnson. It was posted June 18, 2016 on

A growing relationship between local law enforcement agencies and a mental health crisis team is paying dividends, officials say.

The Crisis Response Team is made up of therapists and social workers from ​Heartland Family Service, Veterans Affairs, area schools, CHI Health, Boys Town and private practice, according to Director Jenny Stewart of Heartland Family Service.

Counting Stewart and two lead therap​ists – one for Iowa, one for Nebraska – there are 18 on the team.

The CRT responds to calls from law enforcement officers when they see signs that someone involved in an incident is in a mental health crisis, Stewart said. The team always has at least one person on call.

“We typically have one assigned, and then there’s backup,” she said. “There’s four who could go out.”

Team members try to be on scene within 30 minutes, Stewart said.

“The therapist will go out and will be debriefed by the officer on what’s happened,” she said. “The therapist will do a safety risk assessment.”

The team member tries to determine how likely it is that the person might hurt himself or herself or someone else, Stewart said. They consider whether the person has a plan to do that and a weapon, whether they have support people who can stay with them for the night and other factors.

Then, the therapist makes a recommendation to the law enforcement officer on what level of care the person needs.

“Law enforcement makes the final decision on what happens to that person,” she said. “If that person goes to the hospital, the therapist will follow that person to the hospital to speak to the doctor or medical staff.”

The goal is to avoid unnecessary incarcerations and hospitalizations, Stewart said.

The relationship between law enforcement and the CRT has changed the way suspects in mental health crises are handled, said Officer Ben Lake of the Council Bluffs Police Department.

In the past, officers’ options were limited.

“We can’t solve their problem in 15 minutes on a call,” he said. “We would just immediately take them to the hospital.”

There, they would see an emergency room doctor who could not help them immediately – only hold them to see a psychiatrist the next day (if there was a bed available) or refer them to someone who could provide outpatient treatment, Lake said. If the person was admitted to the hospital, taxpayers would likely have to pay the bill.

“The CRT helps us connect that person with other resources, instead of us just taking them to jail or to the hospital,” said Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jerome Stewart, Jenny Stewart’s husband.

The team was formed in 2008 and initially served only Sarpy County, Nebraska, Jenny Stewart said. Pottawattamie County was added in January 2011 and Cass County, Nebraska, in June 2011. Some team members are only licensed in one state or the other.

“We have a number of therapists who are trained in both states, so they sit on every county’s team,” she said.

Sometimes Stewart or one of the lead therapists debriefs a team member after a call, she said.

“Crisis response can be really intense,” she said. “We’ve had tables flipped on us, people charge us. There is always at least one law enforcement officer there, but things can change quickly – and there are often several people on site.”

The CRT is in the process of adding eight more counties, all in Iowa: Cass, Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona, Montgomery, Page and Shelby, Jenny Stewart said. Because the team doesn’t have members in all of the counties, members respond to calls from rural counties via telehealth – a live video broadcast between the officer’s cruiser and the therapist’s computer or smart phone.

“There’s not enough therapists in those areas,” she said.

With the video hookup, the therapist can still look for body language and other visual cues, Jenny Stewart added. Telehealth may be used for calls from eastern Pottawattamie County, too, depending on whether the officer is willing or able to wait for a therapist to get to the scene.

Two deputies are currently ​testing reception in the rural counties, she said.

The team trains law enforcement officers annually on dealing with people with mental health issues, she said. In turn, law enforcement officials train CRT members on what they might encounter on a call.

“We really need that situational training everywhere we go,” Jenny Stewart said. “There’s no charge to our agency, and we, in kind, don’t charge them for our training. It’s a great partnership.”

Added Jerome Stewart: “I have found in my years the more I have learned about mental health or behavioral health, the better I have been able to communicate with people on the street.”

The deputy said he is better able to recognize signs of mental illness now and is better able to de-escalate the situation when someone is upset.

“The more I learn, the easier it gets,” Jerome Stewart said.

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