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A-Gift-in-Memory-of-Christopher-Willis-SmithA Gift in Memory of Christopher Willis SmithAll, North Florida
Memory of Christopher Willis Smith
Thursday, Jan 18, 2018

​​A special waiting area outside the Tallahassee office of Boys Town North Florida, dedicated to the memory of Christopher Willis Smith, recently received a facelift thanks to the efforts of two local groups.

Southern Medical Group provided the funding in memory of Christopher and students from Community Christian School supplied the manpower for the improvements, which included new benches, mulch and plants around a flagpole flying a new American flag blessed by Father Steven Boes, Boys Town's National Executive Director.

Community Christian School students chose the Boys Town site as their service day project. A memorial gift from Southern Medical Group helped purchase the necessary materials.

The waiting area has been a place of many treasured moments for children and families served by Boys Town North Florida since it was first developed by Christopher's brother, Michael, in 2009.

Michael, now 24, was a tenth-grader and a member of Boy Scout Troop 109 when he chose to develop the Boys Town area for his Eagle Scout Project. Michael wanted to create a peaceful place for children and families to enjoy and a patriotic place that honored those who have served our country.

"Boys Town could not think of a more beautiful way to honor Christopher's memory than to revitalize an outdoor sanctuary that his brother Michael developed. This area has and will continue to perpetuate big smiles and big hugs in memory of a very caring heart," said Dena Strickland, Boys Town North Florida's Development Director.​

tadlock-roofing-president-jumps-at-opportunity-to-skydive-for-bt-north-floridaTadlock Roofing president jumps at opportunity to skydive for Boys Town North FloridaNorth Florida
Tuesday, Jan 9, 2018
Dale Tadlock, president of Tadlock roofing, skydives to celebrate the community raising more than $10,000 for Boys Town North Florida. Tadlock Roofing contributed to the fundraising with a $10,000 donation. Courtesy Skydive Tallahassee

This article is written by Ashley White, Democrat staff writer. It was ​published on on January 6, 2018.

Skydiving was a celebration for Dale Tadlock on Saturday. 

The president of Tadlock Roofing said he would ​jump out of a plane and match $10,000 if the community could raise that much for Boys Town North Florida on Giving Tuesday. The community raised $10,570 and Tadlock suited up at Skydive Tallahassee to take the jump. 

"It's a celebration," Tadlock, who had skydiving on his bucket list, said. "We've got a very generous, a very supportive and a very loving community."

The fundraising campaign for the company, which was founded in Tallahassee, was "Falling for Families." Marketing director Meagan Nixon suggested Tadlock could fall from an airplane to show his support for the nonprofit that helps at-risk youth through residential programs and integrated continuum care.

For Tadlock, Giving to Boys Town was personal. The 61-year-old and his wife have three biological children and four adopted children. When one of his Ukranian adopted sons was 14 or 15, Tadlock and his wife were having difficulties and needed help. 

"At that time we didn't know what to do or where to turn," Tadlock said. "Boys Town was there for us. They gave us hope. They gave us help and they gave us support that we couldn't find anywhere else."

Now, his son is 21 and visits Boys Town when he comes back to Tallahassee. He's stationed with the Army in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He deploys to Afghanistan in February.

The more than $20,000 raised on Giving Tuesday and Tadlock's celebration leap were an opportunity for Dena Strickland to show the children at Boys Town that people care about them. 

"These are children who people have given up on in life, but not at Boys Town," the development director at Boys Town said. "It's an incredible, incredible deal that (the community) went out and did this for us and we're so thankful."

About 40 boys and girls came out to watch Tadlock skydive. 

25th-annual-bt-golf-tourney-a-successThe 25th Annual Boys Town Golf Tournament a successNorth Florida
Golf Tournament
Thursday, Dec 28, 2017

This article is written by Woody Simmons, Democrat correspondent. It was published on on December 23, 2017.

The 25th Annual Boys Town Golf Tournament was recently held at Golden Eagle.

Boys Town is celebrating its 100th anniversary of saving children and families. Winning the Gross Division was the team of Chip "with a shot" Boeneke, David Farran, Chad Jordan and Chris Adkison with a score of 56. Two shots back with a 58 was the All CPA team of Winston Howell, Jeff Barbacci, Justin Edenfield and J "with a P" Sinclair.

The team of Paul Franklin, Ken Cooksey, Ryan Boyett and Boo Suber won the Net Division, and finishing second is the team you least want to mess with, the Leon County Sheriff's Department! The team included Captain James McQuaig, Captain Barry Blackburn, Officer David Brantley and Officer Ralph Patterson. Congratulations for playing is such a worthwhile tournament!!

BTW Welcome back Bobby Dick to the golfing world. You have been missed!! Great seeing you playing in the event.

Boys-Town-kids-design-ornaments-to-hang-at-White-House-treesBoys Town kids design ornaments to hang at White House treesNorth Florida
North Florida Ornament
Wednesday, Nov 29, 2017

​This article was posted on

​Ornaments by a local Florida organization will dazzle President's Park (White House) in Washington, D.C. as part of the 95th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting display. The children at Boys Town North Florida in Tallahassee designed ornaments at ART Town that showcase the beautiful, tropical waters that surround the majority of the state, with swirls of blue, gold, green and white, and garnishes made from shells and stones. 

The handcrafted ornaments will adorn one of 56 trees representing each U.S. state, territory and the District of Columbia from Dec.1 through Jan.1, 2018 as part of the America Celebrates display. 

"It made me feel happy to be selected to decorate my home state tree because people think kids in the system can't have fun," said Sha'Nautica Cody, 17-year-old youth at Boys Town North Florida. "At Boys Town, we get together, have fun and forget about that. I am proud to be an American and proud I can help celebrate the holidays in the capital city."

Art, Resources, Training (ART) Town is a Boys Town North Florida program that provides unique, innovative ways to deliver life-changing services to more children and families in the Tallahassee community. This program focuses on restorative care that can assist children and families with personal growth in a welcoming, therapeutic environment.

Presented by the National Park Service and National Park Foundation, the National Christmas Tree Lighting is one of America's oldest holiday traditions. The first lighting took place 95 years ago on Christmas Eve in 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge lit a Christmas tree in front of 3,000 spectators on the Ellipse. Since 1923, each succeeding president has carried on the tradition. 

For more event information and updates, please visit and follow the National Christmas Tree on Twitter at @TheNationalTree. Join the conversation online using the hashtag #NCTL2017. Through a partnership with the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks, Hallmark Channel will exclusively broadcast the National Christmas Tree Lighting on Dec. 4.​

tadlock-roofing-owner-falling-for-families-this-giving-tuesdayTadlock Roofing Owner “Falling for Families” This Giving Tuesday!North Florida
Tadlock Logo
Tuesday, Nov 28, 2017

Tadlock Roofing is matching up to $10,000 in donations to Boys Town North Florida this Giving Tuesday. If they meet their goal, owner Dale Tadlock will jump out of an airplane! Make your donation now!

A strong community member and long-time Boys Town North Florida supporter, Tadlock Roofing is a company focused on family and taking care of those that need it the most. Read more about this great community company.

We are so grateful for this opportunity and we ask for your help in reaching our $10,000 goal for Giving Tuesday on Tuesday, November 28. With Tadlock Roofing's pledge, that will be $20,000 for the children and families of Boys Town North Florida. What a great way to kick off the holidays!

nf-family-feachers-lend-a-helping-handNorth Florida Family-Teachers Lend a Helping HandNorth Florida
Family Teachers
Monday, Nov 13, 2017

Trinity and Misty Mackley have been Family-Teachers at Boys Town North Florida for more than seven years. Throughout their careers, they have continuously gone above and beyond to help the children they serve in the North Florida community. Their helping spirit doesn't stop at the children they serve; they also go out of their way to assist families, additional staff members and even help out around campus as needed.

"The Mackleys are an amazing family who have sacrificed so much to help children in need," Bethany Lacey, Senior Director of Program Operations said.

Trinity is considered the "go-to" person when something goes wrong on campus. You can often find him putting his handy skills to work on a broken AC, repairing a window and supporting emergency maintenance needs for homes across campus. Misty is known as a valuable resource to new Family-Teachers. She is always willing to help out and provide them with guidance when dealing with difficult youth behavior.

The Mackleys also play a huge role in North Florida's annual Carr Allison Smoke-Off. Every year, Trinity grills all night to ensure that all attendees have plenty of delicious slow cooked bar-b-que to eat.

"Trinity stays up all night cooking for our annual BBQ cook-off," Lacey said. "When I say all night, I mean he literally starts cooking the night before and stays up to ensure it cooks properly and safely throughout the night."

In addition to providing a helping hand, the Mackleys also care immensely for the families they serve. Recently, they went out of their way to support a father as he worked to be reunited with his three children. His children were living at Boys Town at the time due to the living conditions at their home. After sitting vacant for a year, the house needed a deep clean and numerous repairs in order for his children to be approved to go home. The Mackleys took a group of boys from campus to help with the cleanup and repairs.

"Trinity used his high energy and labor but also his humor to keep the youth engaged and not to embarrass the family," said Lacey. "This allowed them to keep their dignity during the whole process."

Shortly after helping to make the father's home livable, Misty reached out to a former youth to invite him to their home for Easter dinner. The Mackleys welcomed him into their celebration and he was able to spend the afternoon with his former Family-Teachers and friends. On the drive back to drop the youth off, they stopped at the father's house and brought him a plate of food.

"I love this story because I think it is a beautiful picture of God's love to show the children how their father is being loved, valued, and respected, and supported by their Family-Teachers on his journey to healing," Lacey said. "This not only touched our team here in North Florida, but also the other youth. It was a reminder to them that they will always be part of the Boys Town family even after they age-out or move back home."

after-heartache-a-young-girl-finds-redemption-and-loveAfter Much Heartache and Hardship, a Young Girl Finds Redemption and LoveNorth Florida
During a visit to Boys Town’s home campus in Nebraska, Emma met with Father Steven Boes, Boys Town’s National Executive Director
Monday, Oct 16, 2017

When staff members at Boys Town North Florida first met 14-year-old Emma Slater, they instantly took a strong liking to their new "bouncing ball of energy."

Emma's cheery disposition, however, belied a dark and tumultuous past.

Born in China, Emma was abandoned by her parents when she was just 3. A police officer rescued her from the streets and she was taken to an orphanage. Sadly, the orphanage staff neglected and abused her.  

Emma longed for someone to love her, and at age 7, she was adopted by an American family and brought to the United States. But two years later, the family dissolved the adoption and gave her to another family. That family also adopted Emma, but later tried to unsuccessfully pass her off to several other families. All of this occurred outside the child welfare system, so Emma had no one to protect her or advocate for her.

Eventually, Emma was placed in a locked residential facility. By the time she finally entered the formal foster care system, she was carrying a long list of trauma-related behaviors no foster parents could deal with and the despairing belief that she was unlovable.

In 2014, Emma arrived at her Boys Town North Florida Family Home in Tallahassee with severe attachment issues, academic failures and unresolved anger problems. If that weren't enough, the teen also suffered from speech and language impairments due to a cleft palate.

Despite the many disruptions and disappointments she had experienced, Emma was excited to be at Boys Town. Tonia Westerfield, director of the site's Family Home Program, called Emma's first two months a "honeymoon."

But then it all unraveled.  

"As the new school year approached, Emma felt intense anxiety," explained Tonia. "Those fears, combined with other stressors, led Emma to hurt herself and engage in scary behaviors."

Emma's combativeness grew more frequent and severe, and she was especially volatile when her Family-Teachers® (the married couple caring for her in the Family Home) corrected misbehaviors and provided consequences.     

"Emma equated love with material possessions. So when things were taken from her as a consequence of her negative actions, she thought love was being taken away, too," Tonia said.

Changing Emma's polarized, black-or-white thinking took time and patience. To help her broaden her thinking and understand the true meaning of love, her therapy included giving all of her personal belongings to Tonia. To earn them back, Emma had to demonstrate she could be a good "sister" to the other girls in her Family Home. That meant treating them with respect, helping to take care of the home and not putting herself or anyone else in danger.

Emma accepted the challenge, grateful that Boys Town didn't give up on her. After months of intense therapy and skill teaching, Emma earned back all her prized possessions. She even became a role model to others in the program.   

With her behaviors in check, staff turned their attention to improving Emma's academic performance.

Emma was below her grade level and failing her classes when Boys Town contacted a local academy that offers specialized instruction to students with speech and language challenges. Emma was accepted into the school and thrived in its single-classroom environment, earning straight A's and advancing multiple grade levels.

While Emma progressed socially and academically, her caregivers developed a plan to have her cleft palate repaired. Fortunately, Boys Town National Research Hospital® in Omaha, Nebraska, helps thousands of children who are deaf, hard of hearing or, like Emma, have speech and communication problems.

After multiple trips to "Omahoma," as Emma called it, a team of craniofacial specialists designed a treatment plan to correct her condition and successfully performed reconstructive surgery.

Now, the volatile, emotionally damaged girl who came to Boys Town two years earlier had blossomed into a poised young lady who laughed easily, shared generously and loved unconditionally.  

As Emma's journey of personal growth and physical healing continued, fate intervened in the most heartwarming way.

During a review of Emma's case file, a letter from one of her previous foster parents, Janice and Ervin Slater, was discovered. It described the heartache they felt over not being able to provide the level of care Emma needed, along with the hope that she might someday return.    

"In Emma's therapy sessions, she often talked about the couple and described them as very kind. She felt a lot of remorse for how she acted in their home," Tonia said. 

Boys Town reached out to the Slaters. Without hesitation, the couple made the five-hour drive from their home in Dade City the very next day.     

The emotional reunion was such a success that the Slaters, with Boys Town's consent, began the adoption process. Six months later, Emma had finally found what had so painfully eluded her… a forever family. And this time, forever means forever.  

boys-town-north-florida-partnership-makes-a-differenceBoys Town North Florida Partnership Makes a DifferenceNorth Florida
Dr. Weaver, Brayton Frank and Regina McQueen
Monday, Sep 18, 2017

Through Boys Town programs and services, children's lives are changed thanks to the individualized attention and support they receive; thanks to this, Brayton Frank is now able to see the world more clearly.

Frank was placed with Boys Town North Florida's Foster Family Services in May 2016 after being negatively discharged from his foster care placement due to behavioral issues that greatly affected his performance in school.

When seven-year-old Frank would become agitated or frustrated, he would immediately become angry and display verbal and physical aggression towards those around him. Frank's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) was started last year to assess his eligibility to receive specialized support in the classroom to help him achieve his academic goals and avoid suspension, which he had been prone to in the past.

While awaiting his eligibility, Foster Family Services Consultant Regina McQueen worked diligently with Frank's school, case manager and new foster parents to help Frank succeed and ensure that his needs were being met. Throughout this process, it was discovered that little Brayton Frank needed new glasses. With the earliest appointment available through a medical provider two months away, Boys Town turned to Dr. Tony Weaver of Eye Associates of Tallahassee.

After learning about Frank's struggle and situation, Dr. Weaver immediately set up an appointment to see him. Weaver, a long-time supporter of Boys Town North Florida and its mission, squeezed Frank in for an appointment despite his full schedule. Weaver and his associates went above and beyond to give back to Boys Town and change the life of a child in need. "Cute kid! He stole our hearts," said Weaver.

Now, with improved vision and through the kindness of Dr. Weaver, Brayton Frank is able to recognize objects, shapes and numbers that he was unable to see before. With his improved vision and IEP process coming to a close, Frank will be able to reach his academic goals and see the world more clearly. Boys Town North Florida's goal is to reunify Frank with his biological parents, who are overjoyed that his needs are being addressed and taken care of while he is not in their care.

community-partnership-provides-quilts-to-bt-n-floridaCommunity Partnership Provides Quilts to Boys Town North FloridaNorth Florida
Stitch n Time
Thursday, Aug 17, 2017

For youth who come to Boys Town, the transition into a new situation can be daunting. Creating a comfortable environment for these kids when they arrive is essential, which is why Boys Town North Florida decided to revive a long standing tradition to make the youth feel a little more welcome.

Boys Town North Florida began partnering with the Stitch-N-Time program at the Leon County Detention Facility in Tallahassee to provide quilts to kids when they first enter into Boys Town's care. The site received its first 39 quilts and 34 school bags on January 26, 2017 from the Stitch-N-Time program.

Stitch-N-Time is a program that teaches its members all parts of the sewing process. Through learning these skills the individuals also learn how to work as a team, acquire new skills, and give back to their community. This program will be providing Boys Town North Florida with more quilts every 3 months so the site can continually provide them to children in all their programs. 

"Stitch-n-Time is one of the premier trusty programs in the State of Florida," said Officer Guy, who oversees the program. "The program enables the trust to do their time in a rehabilitated environment while contributing to the community."

Quilting has been an important part of the Boys Town mission and story for many years. It began in 1918 when Father Edward Flanagan's mother Honora organized the first Mothers Guild meeting, where each week volunteers would gather to create quilts and sew clothing for the boys. Throughout the 1920's, you could find a lovingly stitched quilt on each and every bed in the Home.

"Due to the history of the Mother's Guild in Omaha, we were excited to be able to give our youth the same opportunity and carry on the tradition here in North Florida by giving each of our campus youth a quilt," said Lindsey McDole, Executive Assistant for Boys Town North Florida.

By upholding a time-honored tradition, Boys Town North Florida is able to make the youths' situations a little less scary while maintaining a mutually beneficial partnership with the Leon County Detention Facility.

Thanks to Stitch-N-Time Boys Town North Florida youth can curl up in their quilts after a long day, relax, and be thankful for the opportunities that Boys Town North Florida is providing for them.

jen-standley-goes-above-and-beyond-to-assist-youthJen Standley Goes Above and Beyond to Assist YouthNorth Florida
Jen Standley
Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

​Jennifer "Jen" Standley began her journey as a Boys Town employee in 2010 when she and her husband became Licensed Foster Parents. One year into their time as foster parents, the Standleys adopted a boy and his two adult siblings. Their adoption reunited the siblings for the first time in 10 years.

Now working as an Administrative Assistant for the Boys Town North Florida Family Home Program, Jen continues to make an impact on kids every day not only through her daily job duties, but also outside of work. From mentoring to teaching cooking classes, her passion for helping youth has been a blessing to all of the kids she helps.

"Jennifer Standley is a true Boys Town hero," said Development Director Dena Strickland. "She genuinely cares about our children, exemplifying our North Florida Culture of always 'Going the Extra Mile' to ensure our children are well taken care of. This is just one example of many and I am very proud of her initiatives – she is a true GEM!"

Jen has taken on many projects and roles to ensure kids have the life skills they need to become successful. This past summer, she taught two cooking classes to youth in the Family Home Program. The youth learned to make roasted buffalo chicken with yellow rice and broccoli, which turned out to be a fan favorite among both the kids and staff. Standley's cooking class, helped youth become more confident and self-sufficient.

"It fills my heart with pride and joy when I see our youth experience new things. There's nothing better than cooking a meal and having a youth ask for the recipe because they want to cook the meal they just ate," Standley said.

But Standley's kindness doesn't stop at cooking classes. Her most recent project is assisting with Boys Town North Florida's new state program called "Keys to Independence." This statewide program was created to assist youth in Foster Care with passing their exams and driving tests to obtain their Learner's Permits and later their Driver's License. Standley holds a study group at ART Town to help youth study for their driver's exams. Recently, three youth passed their Learner's Permit test from the DMV thanks to Jen.

"Because of the success of these three girls who passed their Learner's Permit tests, we constantly hear other youth asking Jen when she can help them," said Tonia Westerfield, Boys Town North Florida Family Home Program Director. "It's a beautiful thing to witness."

"Seeing their faces light up with excitement and seeing how proud and confident they were when they passed their tests is what makes what I do worth every moment," Standley reflected.

In addition to the Keys to Independence program and cooking classes, Jen also mentors Boys Town youth who have aged out of the system. She helps them with the transition to adulthood by providing advice and teaching valuable life skills.

"It brings me much joy to work with such a wonderful agency that shares the same philosophy as me," Standley said. "Kids matter! This is why I do what I can to help these youth who may not have every opportunity as other youth."

boys-town-north-florida-chosen-to-present-at-provider-to-provider-expoBoys Town North Florida Chosen to Present at Provider to Provider ExpoNorth Florida
Boys Town North Florida Chosen to Present at Provider to Provider Expo
Wednesday, Jun 21, 2017

Boys Town North Florida recently participated in the Provider to Provider Expo: Local Advocates Strengthening Families Together held on April 10, 2017. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum organized the expo with the purpose of providing an interactive day of professional development for providers to focus on learning local resources and their referral processes, engaging with other agencies, facilitating connections with families and engaging with peers in the local system of care.

Boys Town North Florida was chosen to be one of nine agencies to present. The Expo featured different providers, including Boys Town, Kearney Center, FSU School of Medicine, the Early Learning Coalition, Play Big Therapy and many other organizations dedicated to providing for children in the community. 

Matthias Sidney, Boys Town North Florida Coordination Services Consultant, and Bethany Lacey, Boys Town North Florida Senior Director of Program Operations, were given the opportunity to share more information about Boys Town's centennial, history, legacy and current impact within the community with those in attendance.

Each organization was provided with 15 minutes to present to the crowd of over 200 individuals. Those in attendance were made up of representatives from different sectors of the community such as the school district, law enforcement, child care, hospitals and social service agencies.

"It was so exciting to see all these providers come together with the common goal of wanting to ensure families receive the right service at the right time!" Lacey said. "It was powerful to witness all these agencies working together to ensure that no child or family falls through the crack, and that every resource if made available to our families in need within our community!"

mom-finds-new-life-with-boys-townNew Mom Finds New Life with Boys Town North Florida’s HelpNorth Florida
Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017

No matter what Leanna did, it was the wrong thing. And it always earned a beating from her boyfriend.

He beat her if she was quiet. He beat her if she spoke. He beat her as she held their new daughter, and he beat her as he drove the car during a family trip to Tallahassee.

Besides the physical and emotional pain of the constant abuse, Leanna also suffered from post-partum depression and self-esteem issues. But those things didn't matter to her boyfriend either. When he was angry, or even just displeased, Leanna could expect bruises and black eyes.

Leanna tried to reach out for help. Several times, the family was involved with the Department of Children and Families. But it wasn't until one of those DCF contacts resulted in a call to Boys Town North Florida's In-Home Family Services® program that life began to change for her and her newborn daughter.

For eight weeks, Boys Town Family Consultant Monica Smart worked with Leanna. First, Monica helped Leanna and her baby move in with some nearby relatives. That took the mother and child out of harm's way. Then Monica began teaching Leanna the skills she would need to find her own place, get a job and live life on her own terms, without fear and pain.

After many meetings punctuated by frustration and tears, Leanna was ready to apply the problem-solving skills she learned in the program. She began connecting with community agencies and resources to find housing and a job, and enhanced her parenting skills so she could give her little girl the best care possible.

Leanna ended her services with Boys Town North Florida facing a future that still holds many uncertainties. But today, she has her own apartment and is moving forward with self-confidence and the knowledge that everything she is doing is the right thing for her and her daughter.  

"Boys Town is a lifesaver and I thank you all for everything that you have done for my family," she said.

bt-celebrating-100th-anniversaryBoys Town Celebrating 100th AnniversaryNorth Florida
Boys Town Celebrating 100th Anniversary
Monday, Apr 17, 2017

This story is written by Julie Montanaro. It was posted on April 7, 2017 at

Boys Town was first made famous on the big screen in Hollywood in the 1930's.

"Boys Town is real. It's a drama greater than the imagination of Hollywood's greatest storytellers," the original Warner Brothers movie trailer begins.

It highlighted the work of Father Edward Flangan at his Omaha, Nebraska home for at risk children.

Spencer Tracy earned an Oscar for his portrayal of Father Flanagan in the film.

That Oscar is now in Tallahassee to help "Boys Town" celebrate its 100th anniversary.

Boys Town historian Thomas Lynch traveled all the way from Omaha
carrying that statue under lock and key.

Spencer Tracy donated it to Boys Town.

"Father Flanagan received the Oscar from Spencer Tracy the day after he received it in 1939. Father was actually ill in bed and we have pictures of him holding it in his pajamas and then he placed it on his desk and kept it there for ten years until he passed away."

Those willing to wear white gloves can hold the autographed Oscar and take pictures with it at Boys Town's annual gala.

"An Oscar is something people are very interested in and many people are amazed at how heavy the Oscar is," Lynch said. "They just love to see it because they see it on t.v. and they can actually hold one."

The Oscar is usually under lock and key in a museum. It'll be on display at Friday night's sold out Spirit of Youth gala.

That gala is the biggest fundraiser of the year for Boys Town here in Tallahassee.

It has helped nearly 800 children in the past year cope with abuse and anger and start to believe in themselves.

Boys Town alum Ashley Jackson says she is living proof that all things are possible.

Ashley Jackson got her first degree from FAMU.

She's now working on her master's at Florida State.

We met at the "Unconquered" statue. It couldn't be more apt.

"You begin to develop a hopelessness in people, because you know you've seen so much bad," Jackson said.

Jackson survived years of abuse, bouncing from foster home to foster home before landing at Boys Town.

"Boys Town actually made my 15th foster home," she said.

Jackson was thrust into foster care at the age of seven. By 15, she says, she was angry and lashing out.

"All the other foster homes, all the other people in my life, they gave up on me, which didn't help because I had given up on myself, you know? But when I got to Boys Town, they didn't," Jackson said. "Because they believed in me so much, it caused me to start believing in me."

This vivacious 26 year old is now determined to be a voice for other foster kids and share the words she was so desperate to hear - and believe - herself.

"You are capable. You are intelligent and you have the willpower and potential to accomplish anything you want to accomplish. Don't let anyone tell you you can't. Always know that you can," she said.

Ashley will be headed to Washington, D.C. next month for an internship in Congressman Al Lawson's office.

This is just one of the success stories that Boys Town is celebrating.

It directly helped more than 8,000 kids in Florida in 2016 and tens of thousands more nationwide.

Former-Boys-Town-North-Florida-Youth-Finds-Her-Calling-in-AdvocacyFormer Boys Town North Florida Youth Finds Her Calling in AdvocacyNorth Florida
Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017

Ashley Jackson had a story to tell about growing up as a foster child.

When the opportunity to share that story came along, it put the former Boys Town North Florida youth on a national stage as an advocate for children.

Ashely traveled to Washington, D.C., last year to speak as a Young Advocate as part of a national panel briefing before the House of Representatives. The briefing was hosted by the Campaign for Youth Justice and the Coalition for Juvenile Justice.

For Ashley, it was a totally new experience.

"When Mr. Ken (Bender, Executive Director of Boys Town North Florida) called me and asked if I wanted to advocate for youth by telling my story in Washington, D.C., of course I jumped on the opportunity and couldn't wait for the trip," she said. "I had never been on an airplane before and this would be my first time in a new state."

During the briefing, Ashley spoke for just under 10 minutes. She described how she had bounced from one foster home to another for about 13 years, from 1995 to 2008. She recounted being incarcerated for six months for running away from one of her foster homes. And, she made it very clear that placing kids in a juvenile detention center is not the answer to teaching them right from wrong.

"It was a traumatic experience for me," Ashley said of her time in the detention center. "You have to understand the types of people you have in the system. I was incarcerated because I ran away. But I was a lot different type of kid than the others there. You have lots of gang-influenced people in there. That could have been a very bad thing for me. I became very angry being in that situation. I feel very fortunate that when I got out, I found someone that could help me. I found Boys Town."

Jackson said the people at Boys Town North Florida were different. They listened to her concerns, and she finally was able to trust someone.

"I had trust issues long before I was placed in juvenile detention," she said. "Being in 15 different foster homes will do that to you. Boys Town changed my life."

Ashley graduated from high school and then went on to Florida A&M University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in social work. She is now pursuing a master's degree in clinical social work and public administration at Florida State University.

She said being asked to speak in the nation's capital was a dream come true.

"The experience was motivational and inspirational. I got to experience advocating on a national level, and when I told my story, I realized public speaking and advocating for the rights of our youth is a path I want to take with my life. Also, it made me admire Boys Town even more than I already did."

Ashley said she feels she is just beginning to make a difference.

"The best part of the trip for me was being told, 'I know we will see you here again soon,'" she said proudly. "Being told that I belong there confirmed for me that I can make an impact on the system, and that's exactly what I plan to do."

North-Floridas-24th-Annual-Golf-Classic-Raises-60000North Florida's 24th Annual Golf Classic Raises $60,000North Florida
North Florida's 24th Annual Golf Classic Recap
Thursday, Apr 6, 2017

​Florida residents recently brought out their golf clubs and gathered into teams of four in hopes of earning the top score among the competition at Boys Town North Florida's Annual Winter Classic Golf Tournament.

This year's tournament marked the event's 24th year since it first began. To live up to the previous year's lavish venues, this year's Christmas Classic was held at the Golden Eagle Golf and Country Club in Tallahassee on Monday, December 12, 2016. Under the leadership of chairman, Eric Sharkey of Residential Elevators, a little over 150 players, volunteers, employees and youth gathered at the sold out event.

Teams of four teed-off at 10 a.m. while guest enjoyed the food and beverage vendors available. Staff members and youth from Boys Town North Florida's programs greeted and welcomed guests with holiday cookies at the Tasty Pastry Vendor tent as they arrived.

The large turnout of guests and outstanding commitment of the competitors resulted in an impactful amount of $60,000 raised to support Boys Town's North Florida's programs and services.

The top three gross winning teams were Tallahassee Ford Lincoln in first place with a score of 56, Residential Elevators coming in second place scoring 57, and Carr Allison taking third place with a score of 58.

"It was a fabulous Golf Tournament, and I thank our chairman, Eric Sharkey for leading this effort and look forward to his chairmanship during our 100th Anniversary Year and at our 25th Annual Christmas Classic Golf Tournament!" Dena Strickland, Boys Town North Florida Development Director said.

Boys Town North Florida extends a thank you to the following corporate sponsors for another successful event:

Event Sponsors: Eric and Hollie Sharkey, Centennial Bank, DRMP, Legacy Toyota, Bobby Dick & Merril Lynch Bank of American Corporation, Residential Elevators, Tallahassee Democrat, Thomas Howell Ferguson P.A., Bud Warehouses, Carr Allison Law Firm, Earl Bacon Agency, FMI Business Systems, Hancock Bank, Jersey Mike's Subs, Jim Moran Institute, The Kupiszewski Family, McKee Insurance Agency, Miller's Tree Service, NAI TALCOR, Pennington P.A., Prime Meridian Bank, Rodrigue & Rodrigue, and Rogers, Gunter, Vaughan Insurance Inc., Southern Fidelity Insurance Group, Summit Group/Mad Dog Construction, Syn-Tech System, Tallahassee Ford Lincoln and TriCon Builders.

Hole Sponsors: BB&T, Benners Contracting, Dr. Joe & Marion Camps, Centennial Mortgage, Clark Partington, Demont Insurance Agency Inc., Electronet Broadband Communications, Farmers & Merchants Bank, Ferguson Plumbing, Florida Fence & Deck, Genesis, Ghost Controls, Sandy & Mark Goldman, Hunt & Hunt Interiors, Todd & Jeri Hunter, James Campbell & Associates, Lloyd Roofing & Construction Inc., Madison Social, Moe's Southwest Grill, RaGZ, Bill Reardon-State Farm Insurance, Riley Palmer Construction Company, Ryder, Southern Home Consultants Inc., Tallahassee State Bank, TRS Inc. and Whitaker Construction Group Inc.

Vender Sponsors: Ace Hardware, Edwin Watts Golf, The Egg, Eye Associates of Tallahassee, Gabriel Hanway, Golden Eagle Golf & Country Club, Moe's Southwest Grill, Signs 4 Today, Starbucks, Tallahassee Ford Lincoln, Tasty Pastry Baker, What A Graphic! and Tri-Eagle Sales.

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