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Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Boys Town Gets A+ for Accreditation Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Boys Town Gets A+ for Accreditation <p>At the beginning of 2019 Boys Town was re-accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA). </p><p>COA accredits child welfare, behavioral health and community based social services. Boys Town is one of the 2,200 organizations that they review. </p><p>Being accredited shows that an organization meets COA's standards of quality and they pass an in-depth review of the organization by highly trained professionals. Some of the areas they assess are rights of clients, quality of services being provided, training and supervision of staff, and safety and well-being outcomes. </p><p>Boys Town received 853 ratings on standards and 834 of them were rated a one, which is the highest rating you can get. Boys Town received no rating below a two. </p><p>This accreditation is reflective of the work Boys Town employees do each day to improve the lives of children and families by improving parenting skills, helping fathers to engage with their children, coaching parents through addictions and helping troubled youth find their way.</p><p>Boys Town Iowa hosted one of the six COA reviewers that reviewed different Boys Town locations across the United States. </p><p>The accreditation process takes place every four years to ensure organizations are maintaining quality care throughout time. </p><p>"It's a feel good moment to know you achieved your accreditation, but even more rewarding to know that this is the level of quality being provided each and every day," said Debbie Orduna, Executive Director Boys Town Iowa.</p><p>Boys Town Iowa has a team of 100 employees who are dedicated to changing the lives of children and families in the community. </p><p>To learn how our amazing employees helped a mom heal click <a href="/blog/Pages/A-Mom-Healed-A-Family-Saved.aspx">here</a>.<br></p><p>​</p>2019-02-18T06:00:00ZNews<img alt="COA Logo" src="/locations/iowa/PublishingImages/coa_logo.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />Iowa;#
Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Holiday of Hope for Boys Town Iowa Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Holiday of Hope for Boys Town Iowa <p>Imagine waking up on Christmas day as a child and having no presents under the tree or no winter coat to wear outside to play with the other children. </p><p>This is the sad reality for many children whose families struggle not only to provide basic needs but also have a hard time giving their child the Christmas they wish they could. </p><p>During the 2018 holiday season, churches, businesses and families of the community came together to provide a Christmas to about 70 Boys Town Iowa families. </p><p>The children Boys Town Iowa serves were asked what things they like, such as toys, hobbies or crafts. Then they were asked what kinds of things they <em>need</em>, such as shoes, winter coats or personal hygiene products. In addition to the children's wish list they asked the parents what they needed extra help with this Christmas season. </p><p>Some families in the local community are faced with difficult decisions during this time of the year…pay the rent or give their child a Christmas gift. To these families and children even receiving items such as a new pair of tennis shoes or a coat to keep them warm <em>is</em> a gift.  </p><p>Donors who reached out to help these families provided toys, clothing, games, hygiene products and gift cards to grocery stores. </p><p>This year one child who experienced trauma was able to use a gift as an activity to interact with their family, which provided them a way to cope with the trauma.</p><p>At Boys Town we hope no individual or family has to experience Christmas through a traumatic lens. It is our goal to ease their sufferings in any way we can so the holidays are a happy time for them and not a time of additional stress or sadness. </p><p>Not only were gifts and necessities provided but hope was restored in these families. Boys Town Iowa extends a big thank you to all those who donated to the families and children. If it weren't for your generosity Christmas may not have been possible for them. <br></p><p>​</p>2019-02-18T06:00:00ZNews<img alt="Christmas" src="/locations/iowa/PublishingImages/christmas.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />Iowa;#
Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Boys Town Iowa Announces Cheryl Honkomp as Development Director Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Boys Town Iowa Announces Cheryl Honkomp as Development Director <p>Boys Town Iowa is excited to welcome Cheryl Honkomp as our first Development Director. </p><p>"Cheryl is a wonderful addition to our team. I am excited to see the work she will do in order to help us serve children and families in many communities in Iowa," said Debbie Orduna, Boys Town Iowa Executive Director. </p><p>Cheryl and her husband, Joe, have three children. Cheryl is actively involved in the community by serving as a member to Altrusa International-Ames Chapter and volunteering in the community</p><p>"Cheryl is a natural fit for our mission.  She is passionate about ensuring all children have the opportunity to succeed regardless of their circumstances, and that families should have access to quality services to prevent adverse childhood experiences," said Debbie.  </p><p>In Cheryl's 11 years working for Ivy Tech Community College, she held numerous development roles. Throughout her career she has garnered skills in donor relations, fundraising events, alumni engagement, community partnerships and annual employee giving programs. </p><p>"Children are the future and Boys Town provides positive experiences for children who have some major hurdles in their life," said Cheryl. "I am truly blessed to be a part of the organization and look forward to connecting with donors who believe in our children and want to help us create those positive experiences."  </p><p>To connect with Cheryl email her at <a href="file:///"></a> or call 712-308-2947.<br></p>2019-02-18T06:00:00ZNews<img alt="Cheryl Honkemp" height="506" src="/locations/iowa/PublishingImages/Honkomp-photo.jpg" width="381" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />Iowa;#
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><em>This article was posted on July 15, 2018.</em></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"></a> or by calling Melissa Steffes at 402-498-1795.</p>2018-07-24T05:00:00ZNewsIowa;#Nebraska;#