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Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | 2019 Gala: Cheers to the Champions Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | 2019 Gala: Cheers to the Champions <p></p><p>Boys Town North Florida invites you to our 16<sup>th</sup> annual Spirit of Youth Gala Friday, April 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the University Center Club! The theme for this year's event is "<strong>Cheers to the Champions</strong>" to celebrate the champions who make a difference in the lives of our children. </p><p>Through the help of our community champions, Boys Town North Florida directly cared for 1,061 children and provided help, healing and hope to over 2,600 children and families last year through our <a href="/what-we-do/Pages/integrated-continuum.aspx"><strong>Boys Town's Continuum of Care</strong></a>. </p><p>For sponsorship information, contact Lili Childree at<strong> </strong><a href=""><strong></strong></a><strong> </strong>or 850-504-5015. If you have an item you'd like to donate, please <a href="/locations/north-florida/news-and-events/Documents/Auction-Item-Donation-Form_Fillable%20Fields.pdf" target="_blank"><strong>download the Auction Form</strong></a>.</p><p>Experience the hope Boys Town North Florida gives to children and families in our community at our 2019 Gala! Your support is greatly appreciated!</p><p>We look forward to seeing you on April 5th!</p><h3>Date</h3><p>Friday, April 5, 2019</p><h3>Time</h3><p>6:30 p.m. </p><h3>Location</h3><p>University Center Club<br>FSU Doak Campbell Stadium<br> Tallahassee, FL 32306</p> <p style="text-align:center;"> <a href="" target="_blank" class="btn">Register Today!</a> </p><p> <br> </p><div id="anchorvid"></div><div class="embed-container"> <iframe src="" width="640" height="358" frameborder="0"></iframe>  </div>2019-04-05T05:00:00ZEventNorth Florida;#



Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Neither distance nor difficulty could stop this adoption journey Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Neither distance nor difficulty could stop this adoption journey <p>Isaiah was a preschooler living in a cramped South Florida group home. He had a severe form of autism, limiting his ability to communicate and interact with others.  </p><p>Martin was a long-time Miami-area foster parent preparing to relocate 500 miles north to Tallahassee. A retired flight attendant, he had opened his heart and home to countless children.     </p><p>Through serendipity, patience and perseverance, the pair would become a forever family.</p><p>Their story began when a child-placement agency asked Martin, who was six months shy of moving, if he was willing to foster five siblings. With two boys already at home, taking on that many little ones, even temporarily, wasn't possible. During those conversations, however, Martin was told about Isaiah – a boy "no one will take" because he's "a lot of work." </p><p>Unfazed by those descriptions or the story of how Isaiah had scratched up another child's face, Martin agreed to meet the little tyke.     </p><p>"We went to a playground, but he wouldn't play on anything," Martin said. "He just wanted to hold my hand and follow me around."</p><p>It appeared to be the start of a perfect pairing. But Isaiah's father had not relinquished his parental rights and hinted he might want to reunite with his son. It was a complicated and, at times, confusing back-and-forth situation that took months to resolve. During the protracted ordeal, Martin moved. </p><p>Soon after arriving in Tallahassee, Martin saw a billboard promoting Boys Town North Florida Foster Family Services<sup>®</sup> and jumped at the opportunity to renew his foster care license and enhance his fostering skills.  </p><p>"The training was very good. I've worked with other agencies, but Boys Town really impressed me because they care and are dedicated," Martin said.</p><p>After successfully completing training, Martin was a Boys Town Foster Parent and licensed to care for kids who have significant mental, emotional or behavioral health needs. In a timely coincidence, the child-placement agency in Miami contacted Martin with news that Isaiah's family had terminated their rights. With Boys Town's assistance, Isaiah flew to Tallahassee where Martin welcomed him "home" and began the foster-to-adoption process.</p><p>Isaiah had few possessions when he arrived, so Boys Town staff connected Martin to local resources where he could obtain basic essentials like a highchair and clothing. In addition, Boys Town coordinated efforts to ensure Isaiah received the appropriate educational and therapeutic services he required to improve his communication and behavioral skills.   </p><p>A Boys Town Foster Care Consultant also made weekly visits to the home, and her guidance and support proved invaluable. </p><p>"My Consultant always had something to teach or try out," explained Martin. "She researched things and often brought little sensory toys for Isaiah that were calming."</p><p>Managing Isaiah's anxiety was a priority. </p><p>When he was impatient or hungry, Isaiah scratched (sometimes severely) to communicate his displeasure. Martin and the Consultant used a timer to help Isaiah learn how to wait. First for a minute, then two. The Consultant also showed Martin how to use deep pressure touch to calm Isaiah when he was aggressive, stressed or overwhelmed. Together, they also taught Isaiah sign language so he could more clearly communicate his needs.  </p><p>Those efforts, combined with social skills instruction, experimentation and collaboration with other support networks, including a special-needs gymnastics class, proved highly beneficial. </p><p>Isaiah grew physically in height and weight after years of being below normal. His anxiety decreased, his behaviors improved and he became more social. </p><p>"Isaiah has such a lovable side. Every once in a while, he'll give me a big hug or snuggle with me on the couch. Lots of times he doesn't want to be touched. So when he does, it makes it special," Martin said.</p><p>After three years of big leaps, small steps, quiet tears and happy songs (Isaiah loves to whistle!), the adoption was finalized. Isaiah now had his forever family. </p><p>A world of opportunity has since opened up for him, literally, as the family has enjoyed holiday vacations in the Caribbean and summer excursions to Cuba and South America. While hard challenges persist and difficult days will come, love and optimism always remain. </p><p>"I think there is always hope to make more progress," Martin said. "With Isaiah, you can see glimmers of light." <br></p>2019-02-14T06:00:00ZNews<img alt="Martin and Isaiah" height="590" src="/parenting/PublishingImages/martin-isaiah.jpg" width="363" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />North Florida;#
Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Boys Town North Florida Hosts 26th Annual Christmas Classic Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Boys Town North Florida Hosts 26th Annual Christmas Classic <p>The 26<sup>th</sup> annual Boys Town North Florida Christmas Classic Golf Tournament took place on Monday, December 17 with an appearance of a special guest, former Chicago Cubs Worlds Series Champion catcher, David Ross. </p><p>The event allows teams of four to compete for the top score while also raising money for the children and families that North Florida serves. </p><p>This year over 100 people took part in the Christmas Classic and helped to raise more than $50,000 for Boys Town North Florida. </p><p>A fun part of this year's tournament was having 2016 World Series Champion, David Ross from the Chicago Cubs greet golfers at the 12<sup>th</sup> hole. Here the golfers had a chance to "Beat the Pro" and win a sleeve of golf balls if they had a better drive than David did. </p><p>This year's top gross winners of the tournament were Residential Elevators in first, Jersey Mike's/ Moe's in second and Carr Allison Law Firm in third place.</p><p>The net winners were Evolution Media in first, Dr. Richard Freesmeier in second and The Egg in third.   </p><p>"It was a wonderful tournament and everyone had a great time," said Dena Strickland, Boys Town North Florida Development Director. "One of our own Boys Town children kicked off the tournament with a lovely prayer of thankfulness." </p><p>Special thanks to Starbucks, Tasty Pastry Bakery, Moe's Southwest Grill, Tri-Eagle Sales, Jersey Mike's and The Egg who were vendors on six of the holes. Also, big thank you to Radio Talk Show host and Sportscaster, Woody Hayes for being awards ceremony presenter. </p><div class="hidden-gal"> <a class="image-group cboxElement" href="/locations/north-florida/news-and-events/PublishingImages/IMG_boys.jpg" title="The Boys"> </a> <a class="image-group cboxElement" href="/locations/north-florida/news-and-events/PublishingImages/IMG_ladygolf.jpg" title="Lady Golfers"> </a> <a class="image-group cboxElement" href="/locations/north-florida/news-and-events/PublishingImages/IMG_blackwhite.jpg" title="Slicing the sky"> </a> <a class="image-group cboxElement" href="/locations/north-florida/news-and-events/PublishingImages/Rossmen.jpg" title="Golfers - Rossmen"> </a> <a class="image-group cboxElement" href="/locations/north-florida/news-and-events/PublishingImages/trophy.jpg" title="Trophy Winners"> </a> <a class="image-group cboxElement" href="/locations/north-florida/news-and-events/PublishingImages/dena.jpg" title="Group Picture"> </a> </div> 2019-01-11T06:00:00ZNews<img alt="Group Picture" src="/locations/north-florida/news-and-events/PublishingImages/IMG_groupross.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />North Florida;#
Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Erica’s story: A journey toward hope Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Erica’s story: A journey toward hope <p>Erica had no parent to lean on, no place to call home.  </p><p>When her mother's parental rights were terminated, Erica was placed in the care of a relative. The stay was short. Soon, Erica's bags were packed and she was sent off to another relative's home. Again, her stay there proved temporary. </p><p>Nothing in this young girl's life was permanent, except the ever-present feelings of loss and insecurity.  </p><p>By the time Erica turned 17, she was out of relatives and out of options. Warily, she moved back in with her mom, who was sharing a home with a friend. It wasn't an ideal situation; the family faced many challenges and had few resources.      </p><p>Eventually, Erica and her mother were referred to Boys Town North Florida's In-Home Family Services<sup>®</sup> program for support and counseling. Boys Town Family Consultant Millie Kilpatrick made weekly visits to their home, listening to the women's concerns, offering encouragement, and teaching life skills they could use to relieve the stress and uncertainty in their lives.  </p><p><span><img class="page-suppt-cont" src="/locations/north-florida/news-and-events/PublishingImages/Erica-1.jpg" alt="Erica" style="margin:5px;" /></span>Millie also helped make one of Erica's biggest wishes come true – a party for her 18<sup>th</sup> birthday. Erica celebrated with her closest friends at a local eatery, and the carefree evening provided a sense of everyday normalcy the teen desperately craved.         </p><p> Despite the many disappointments and disruptions she endured at home, Erica remained a diligent student who kept going to school and working hard to maintain her status on the academic honor roll. She never lost hope and always believed the future could be much different than the past. </p><p>Her optimism (and hard work!) was eventually rewarded. </p><p>Today, Erica balances her academics with an afterschool job while living in transitional housing. She continues to develop independent-living skills that will ensure her future is secure and successful!  </p>2018-12-05T06:00:00ZNews<img alt="Erica" src="/locations/north-florida/news-and-events/PublishingImages/Erica-2.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />North Florida;#
Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Boys Town North Florida Goes All Out to Embrace Troubled Teen Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Boys Town North Florida Goes All Out to Embrace Troubled Teen <p>At Boys Town, building relationships and establishing trust are always the primary goals when working with troubled youth. Recently, the staff at Boys Town North Florida was able to achieve those goals in a big way to help a 15-year-old youth named Julia.<br></p><p>Julia first entered a Boys Town North Florida Family Home, and after about a year, moved into Boys Town Therapeutic Foster Care. But over time, staff determined the teen needed a higher level of treatment because of the seriousness of her behavior problems. Julia eventually was admitted to an intensive residential treatment facility in another community.<br></p><p>As she was preparing to leave Boys Town's care, Julia told the Boys Town North Florida staff that they were more of a family to her than her own family. She recounted a time when a staff member had responded to a crisis situation in her Family Home and had prayed with her to help her calm down. Julia said it was the first time anyone had ever prayed with her, and it made a lasting impression. <br></p><p>Staff members responded in kind, reassuring Julia that Boys Town would always be there to love and care for her, and would welcome her back after she received the treatment she needed.<br></p><p>Sadly, Julia's parents' rights were terminated, and she lost contact with her family, leaving her alone and feeling abandoned. <br></p><p>But Boys Town kept its word. When Julia successfully completed her treatment, she was able to return to Boys Town's Therapeutic Foster Care program. <br></p><p>"We love Julia and we are thrilled that she returned to us," said Bethany Lacey, Senior Director of Program Operations at Boys Town North Florida. "Soon, she will be eligible for adoption, and we look forward to advocating and helping her find her forever family."<br></p>2018-09-21T05:00:00ZNorth Florida;#
Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Josh's Story Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Josh's Story <p>It could have been the angry outburst that ended Josh Eldridge's time in his Boys Town North Florida Family Home. Instead, it turned out to be the turning point in the teen's journey of healing. </p><p>Josh had been in six placements prior to entering Boys Town's residential care program in Tallahassee in 2016. The then-16-year-old was dealing with a lot of issues, including being distant and not wanting to interact with people. But one of his most serious challenges was anger control. </p><p>Trinity and Misty Mackley, Josh's Family-Teachers<sup>®</sup>, worked with Josh every day, teaching him skills for calming down when he got upset and strategies for getting along with others and building healthy relationships.</p><p>One day, however, Josh became extremely angry and violent. When he went to push Misty and punch Trinity, the couple called the police. But rather than having Josh arrested and taken away, they just filed an incident report.</p><p>For Josh, the event was life-changing. He realized, perhaps for the first time, that the Mackleys and other Boys Town staff truly cared about him and saw that he had the potential to succeed in life. Most importantly, he learned about forgiveness and how it can provide the opportunity for a person to make amends and start over.</p><p>"We were willing to work with him and that alone made a really big difference for him," Trinity said.</p><p>Gradually, Josh used this new perspective as motivation to work harder on his behaviors and skills, and to improve his grades at school. </p><p>That change in heart and attitude paid off earlier this year.</p><p>In May 2018, Josh proudly received his high school diploma from Tallahassee's Betton Hills School. His future plans include attending law enforcement training school and pursuing a career as a wildlife officer or a police officer. And even though he's left Boys Town North Florida and the Mackleys, he knows their love and support will remain with him as he starts a new chapter in his life. </p><p>In a poem he wrote while still a Boys Town youth, Josh summed up the uncertainty and frustration he sometimes felt:</p><p style="text-align:center;"> <strong>What if…?</strong></p><p style="text-align:center;">My mind is full of "what if…"<br>And my mind is hurting my heart inside of me.<br>I'm tired of all of these questions.<br>"What if…?</p><p style="text-align:center;">What if my dreams don't come true?<br>But what if they do?<br>What if no one likes my music?<br>But what if they do?<br>What if?</p><p style="text-align:center;">My mind is killing me with all of these questions.<br>And I don't want to give up and quit.<br>But it is just, "what if?"</p><p style="text-align:center;">What if my friends give up on me?<br>But what if they don't?<br>What if my family gives up on me?<br>But what if they don't?<br>What if I don't find the one on the way?<br>But what if I do?</p><p style="text-align:center;">What if my dreams don't come true?<br>But what if they do?<br>O, what if they do?<br>O, "what if?"</p><p style="text-align:center;">What if they do? What if they do?<br>What if they do?</p><p>Now, with Boys Town's support and his own determination, Josh is finding out that no one is giving up on him and his dreams can come true.</p><div class="hidden-gal"> <a class="image-group cboxElement" href="/locations/north-florida/news-and-events/PublishingImages/JoshsStory.jpg" title="Josh's Story"> </a> </div>2018-08-28T05:00:00ZNews<img alt="(Left to right) Jackie Barksdale, Carole Johnson, Josh Eldridge, Celeena Mackley and Misty Mackley celebrated Josh’s graduation." src="/locations/north-florida/news-and-events/PublishingImages/group-photo.jpg" width="391" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />North Florida;#
Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Boys Town North Florida Starts a Master Chef Health Initiative Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Boys Town North Florida Starts a Master Chef Health Initiative <p>This summer, Boys Town North Florida started a "Master Chef School" as part of the site's health initiative.<br>Lasting six weeks, one child from each of the five residential homes will be designated each week to prepare recipes with help from local chefs. During their assigned week, a chef will teach the child the ways around the kitchen and how to prepare a nutritious meal for their residential home family.</p><p></p><p>The health initiative was started by Dena Strickland, Boys Town North Florida Development Director, and several Boys Town friends including: Ken Cashin, Lisa Chase, Lori Vezina, Chef Paula Kendrick of Fresh for Florida Kids, Board member Monesia Brown and others who wished to make a difference in the overall health of children in care. The group decided to initially focus on healthy meals that were not only easy to prepare, but very tasty and later expand the initiative to include healthy living in every aspect!</p><p><span><p><img src="/locations/north-florida/news-and-events/PublishingImages/TeachFoodPrep.jpg" alt="Teaching Food Prep" style="margin:5px;" /></p></span></p><p>The first five campus children were selected to kick off the first class of the summer, led by Chef Paula with Lori Vezina as her sous chef. The campus "Master Chefs" made cumin and rosemary roasted chicken thighs with vegetables, spring mix organic salad with pecans, feta and homemade balsamic vinaigrette, fresh fruit and bread. Past Governor's chef and owner of Minas Hospitality, John Minas, also assisted in the kick off and will be leading the second "Master Chef School".</p><p><span><img src="/locations/north-florida/news-and-events/PublishingImages/dish.jpg" alt="Deliciousness" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin:5px;width:336px;" /></span>Chef Paula Kendrick and Lori Vezina who were dinner guests of one of the Family Homes noted that dinnertime was a very important part of the family's day and were passionate to add a more nutritional component to the meals that the families make.</p><p></p><p>"It's important to help them create healthy habits that will maintain and stay with them for the rest of their life," said Paula, "It's a life skill that everyone needs."</p><p><span></span></p><p></p><p></p><p>Dena Strickland said the children loved the Master Chef School and were excited to see the final product of their hard work in the kitchen. </p><p><span><span><img src="/locations/north-florida/news-and-events/PublishingImages/Chef.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /><br></span></span></p><p><span><span></span></span>Thanks to everyone for making this possible for the children and getting the campus involved in a wonderful health initiative that the children can take with them for the rest of their lives!​</p>2018-07-19T05:00:00ZNews<img alt="Young Chef" src="/locations/north-florida/news-and-events/PublishingImages/Pic1.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />North Florida;#
Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | The “Living Work of heART” in North Florida Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | The “Living Work of heART” in North Florida <p>On Friday, April 13, Boys Town North Florida celebrated its 15<sup>th</sup> Annual Spirit of Youth Gala:<em> "A Living Work of heART," </em>bringing together the community to celebrate the children of Boys Town and the wonderful community who supports them.</p><p>A special thank you to this year's awesome Gala Chairs: Sean and Dr. Audra Pittman and Emory and Autumn Mayfield, for their remarkable dedication to Boys Town and for all their hard work creating a tremendously successful gala.<strong> </strong>The event raised an incredible total of $392,991 and will impact the North Florida community by directly helping the children and families through the six programs Boys Town North Florida operates.</p><p>"We are extremely grateful for the support that the Boys Town Gala received this year.  It simply wouldn't have been possible without the generosity of our sponsors, volunteers, and friends of Boys Town who helped make this year's event such a success," said Gala Chair Emory Mayfield.</p><p>This year's theme "An Evening at the MET" was another sell-out at 400 attendees and boasted some amazing auction items. Some of the auction highlights included an exclusive VIP Experience for 4 to the Orange Bowl Playoff game, two tickets to a Los Angeles Lakers game on a private jet and a one week stay in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.</p><p>"We were humbled by the opportunity to be intimately apart of the Boys Town North Florida gala that raises the funds necessary to help these children. Those who supported the Spirit of Youth Gala through their time and contributions have had an extraordinary imprint in making this year a success, and we are very, very grateful to those supporters," said Gala Chair Autumn Mayfield. </p><p>The event also featured a Children's "heART" Gallery, displaying beautiful works of art and mosaic bird baths. Thanks to all of our talented artists Anne Hempel and Joanna Angelos who spearheaded the two projects and Kelly Pettit, Dr. Audra Pittman and Rhonda Strauss who played a tremendous part in helping them.</p><p>Two celebrity fashion designers also helped make the night unforgettable. Alexandra Pijut's Supima collection was featured as guests entered the cocktail reception and Daniel Wingate donated a couture gown to the auction for guests to bid on.</p><p>In its 15<sup>th</sup> year, the gala has grown from 200 attendees to now maxing out at 400. The event, originally considered a fundraiser, is now referred to as a "thank you campaign" to show appreciation for all of the Boys Town North Florida supporters.</p><p>"I would like to give special recognition to not only our tremendous supporters, but our own Boys Town staff who went above and beyond to ensure the success of the event," said Development Director Dena Strickland. "The entire gala team, including our staff expressed that their efforts were worth the time spent because it shared what Boys Town North Florida is all about – the kids and our Boys Town community who supports them."</p><div class="hidden-gal"> <a class="image-group cboxElement" href="/locations/north-florida/news-and-events/PublishingImages/Fashion.jpg" title="Fashion Show"> </a><a class="image-group cboxElement" href="/locations/north-florida/news-and-events/PublishingImages/LabPuppy.jpg" title="Puppy"> </a> </div>2018-06-19T05:00:00ZNews<img alt="Gala Attendees" src="/locations/north-florida/news-and-events/PublishingImages/attendees.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />North Florida;#