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Boys Town Alum Shares Story with Youth Town Alum Shares Story with Youth<h4>"​I am living the American Dream, and you can too – no matter where you start."<br> - Interviewed and edited by Susan Marshall</h4><p>I was raised in a trailer in a small mining town in northern Michigan and was one of the only people of Hispanic heritage in the area. I was left to fend for myself as a young person, as my mother struggled with alcohol addiction. When I skipped school, nobody noticed. Despite working as a bagger in a grocery store and delivering newspapers early in the morning, I sometimes had to “improvise" when I needed a new pair of shoes and had no money to buy them. The Ritalin I was prescribed to treat my hyperactivity was not always consumed by me.</p><p>With my family anticipating I would someday end up in prison, it was no surprise to anyone that in 1982, at the age of 13, I was declared a ward of the state and sent to Boys Town. At first, I did not want to be there. I wasn't used to being told what to do. I wasn't used to having to take personal responsibility for my actions. I reluctantly went along with the program for the first four or five months. Gradually, however, I found that the structure was helping me make better decisions. I liked the rewards that came with doing the work the right way the first time. I learned to manage my anger. I appreciated having my own room and living in a real house. I was proud of the cooking skills I acquired, and I gained confidence with each success I achieved.</p><p>After 18 months at Boys Town, I graduated with $300 in my pocket and moved to Washington DC, by myself, at the age of 17. It is no exaggeration to say I was a new man who had learned for himself that nothing comes for free. My work ethic became my biggest asset. I relied on that ethic to propel me from an entry-level job delivering medical supplies and equipment, up to becoming the owner of a multi-million-dollar construction business. Boys Town had given me the life skills I needed to succeed, and I never forgot the lessons I learned there.</p><p>So, earlier this year, when I was asked if I would participate in a project to construct a bleacher at the DC Boys Town's outdoor basketball court, I quickly said yes. Using competition as a natural motivator swiftly focused the kids on the construction project. We finished the hard work of hole digging and the kids moved on to learn new construction skills like framing and using screw guns. As we worked shoulder to shoulder, I made sure they heard how I made my first million without a college education and that with the right mindset, they could, too. As the kids adapted and learned new skills, I was reminded why we need to get to kids when they are young — you can bend a young stick, but an older one will snap when you ask it to change.</p><p>Fast forward to today, and here I am at age 53. There are still important things to do. My next project is building a resort on a lake in a little town in northern Michigan. I'm back where my personal story started and where my outlook once seemed dark. Leaving as a poor, troubled young boy, I am returning as a prosperous and principled member of the world. I intend to keep giving back whenever I can and especially to the Boys Town organization to which I owe most of my success.</p><p><img src="/locations/washington-dc/news-and-events/PublishingImages/kids-diggingPosts.jpg" alt="Boys Town Kids working together" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p>2021-05-26T05:00:00ZNews<img alt="Boys Town Kids Build new Bleachers" src="/locations/washington-dc/news-and-events/PublishingImages/bball-court.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />text/html; charset=utf-8 NewsEvent
One Year, Two Shelters and Five Children Year, Two Shelters and Five Children<p></p><p>In December of 2019, Ms. Trenisha James' unit in her housing development was deemed “unfit for human habitation," with a CO2 leak being the headliner on a list of safety issues that made it necessary for her family to leave their home.</p><p>Unfortunately, that led to a lawsuit with the landlord, which ultimately was found in James' favor; however, the court findings were written in such a way that future renting became difficult. Add to that the loss of her escrow because she moved out early, and James and her five children soon found themselves homeless.</p><p>They sought shelter in the Kennedy Short Term Family Housing program, which provides emergency and temporary housing for families experiencing homelessness. During that time, they were referred to Boys Town Washington DC for assistance.</p><p>“The James family was referred through the oldest child's school, which at the time was KIPP Quest Elementary School. I work with the attendance team there and they will send us referrals," said Chelsey Perkins, Care Coordination Consultant at Boys Town Washington DC.  </p><p>While living in the shelter, James found it difficult to secure new living arrangements. Several apartments turned her down because she had “too many children." She was shifted from case manager to case manager within the shelter system. And eventually had to move to a different shelter.</p><p>James began to worry about her ability to find a new home for her children.</p><p>“Ms. Chelsey jumped right into advocating for me when it came to finding housing that would accept five children. She did the utmost for me, including finding new housing possibilities and setting up appointments for me to view them. She was phenomenal from the beginning," said James.</p><p>James struggled with Multiple Sclerosis during the housing search, which put her in the hospital for a short time. “MS inhibits some of my speech and Ms. Chelsey helped me with my anxiety. She was very understanding and resourceful," said James.</p><p>As finding a new home for her family became more of a reality, James joined the DC Central Food Kitchen Program. She began working on her culinary skills since she had often worked in restaurants.</p><p>She recently graduated from the program at the top of her class, receiving three awards: highest GPA, life skills award and sunshine award. Though the pandemic has made it hard to secure employment at this time, James is hopeful that her graduation will eventually lead to a good job.</p><p>In January of 2020, the James family was finally able to move into their new home.</p><p>“Ms. Chelsey has helped our family with so many things. From school supplies to virtual summer camps, furniture, clothing, diapers and gas cards, the resources she's been able to provide have been phenomenal," said James. “If it wasn't for her, I don't think I could have made it this far."</p><p>And the admiration seems to go both ways. “I have had many years working in the mental health and case management services field and Ms. James' tenacity, dedication to her family, and hard work were nothing less than awe-inspiring to me," said Perkins. “I believe that if we had more Ms. Jameses in this world, it would be a better place."​<br></p><p><br></p>2021-02-19T06:00:00ZNews<img alt="" src="/locations/washington-dc/news-and-events/PublishingImages/James-family-photo-sml-banner.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> <img alt="" src="/locations/washington-dc/news-and-events/PublishingImages/James-family-photo.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />text/html; charset=utf-8 NewsEvent
Our Wish for 2021 Wish for 2021<p>​​​​​​</p><p>Dear Boys Town Washington DC Friends and Supporters,</p><p>Thank you for standing with us through a very difficult year. Because you kept the faith, we were able to continue providing the best care and program support for our kids and families. We hired a new Senior Director of Programs to take our Family Home and Care Coordination programs to the next level. The Behavioral Health Clinic seamlessly transitioned to telehealth at the onset of the pandemic and recently brought on two new psychologists, allowing us to treat even more children and families in need of our help. Your contributions enabled us to quickly convert space on our campus into a distance learning classroom, and you also helped make our Virtual Fall Fundraiser a success, raising $125,000 to date with donations still pouring in. Because of you, we saw a lot of good this year, so I want to share our 2021 wishes with you.</p><p>In 2021, we wish to bring more hope and healing to children and families through the launch of a new school-based program, LIFT Together, and continue to grow of our Behavioral Health Clinic Endowment. We wish to continue spreading the message of love and tolerance through our #TeachLove campaign as we continue to pray for our country. Lastly, we wish you and your loved ones all the joy and love you deserve!</p><p>When you join us in our mission, you are giving kids opportunities they otherwise may not have had…you are giving them love, safety and hope.</p><p>Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!</p><p>Kichelle L. Coleman<br>Executive Director<br>Boys Town Washington DC​​<br></p><p style="text-align:center;"> <a class="btn btn-theme13" href="" target="_blank">Help us teach love in 2021</a></p>​ <style> .ExternalClass .bt .btn-theme13 { margin:10px 0; padding-right:30px; padding-left:30px; padding-top:15px; padding-bottom:15px; } </style>2020-12-23T06:00:00ZNewstext/html; charset=utf-8 NewsEvent
Because of you, Boys Town Washington DC saw a lot of GOOD in 2020 of you, Boys Town Washington DC saw a lot of GOOD in 2020<p>In these times of crisis, we stand together to serve. Despite a trying year…Because of you, we still saw a lot of GOOD in 2020. We are so grateful for our community partners, friends and supporters in Washington DC. We wouldn't have these incredible success stories to share if it wasn't for you. Thank you!</p><div class="columns article-grid"><div class="column"> <a class="article" href="/locations/washington-dc/news-and-events/Pages/Overcoming-Adversity-Pays-Off-for-Washington-D-C-Family.aspx"><img src="/locations/washington-dc/news-and-events/PublishingImages/wash-1.jpg" alt="Boys Town" /> <span class="article-title">Overcoming Adversity Pays Off for Washington DC Family <span> </span></span></a></div><div class="column"> <a class="article" href="/locations/washington-dc/news-and-events/Pages/On-the-Way-Home-Consultant-Position-Helps-Boys-Town-Washington-DC-Youth-Transition-to-Real-Life.aspx"><img src="/locations/washington-dc/news-and-events/PublishingImages/wash-2.jpg" alt="Boys Town" /> <span class="article-title">Consultant Position Helps DC Youth Transition to Real LIfe <span> </span></span></a></div><div class="column"> <a class="article" href="/locations/washington-dc/news-and-events/Pages/Boys-Town-Washington-DC-Adds-Telehealth-Sessions-to-Reach-Patients.aspx"><img src="/locations/washington-dc/news-and-events/PublishingImages/wash-3.jpg" alt="Boys Town" /> <span class="article-title">DC Adds Telehealth Sessions to Reach Patients <span> </span></span></a></div><div class="column"> <a class="article" href="/locations/washington-dc/news-and-events/Pages/BT-WASDC-Helps-Youth-Find-a-New-Comfort-Zone.aspx"><img src="/locations/washington-dc/news-and-events/PublishingImages/wash-4.jpg" alt="Boys Town" /> <span class="article-title">Washington DC Helps Youth Find a New Comfort Zone <span> </span></span></a></div></div>2020-11-13T06:00:00ZNewstext/html; charset=utf-8 NewsEvent
Behind every mask there is a story every mask there is a story<p>​During our virtual Fall Fundraiser we highlighted our programs, celebrated our Father Flanagan and Spirit of Youth Award winners and shared stories of strength and resolve from the people we are blessed to know and serve. In this booklet you will see the names and faces of the children and families in the nation’s capital who have benefited from Boys Town Washington DC services, as well as some of our staff who help provide those life-changing services.<br></p><p><a href="/locations/washington-dc/Documents/Washington-DC-Virtual-Fall-Fundraiser-Event-Program.pdf" target="_blank">Download the brochure​</a>​<br></p><p></p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox" unselectable="on"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read a2c93519-6dc2-4aec-b641-c1440eb845b7" id="div_a2c93519-6dc2-4aec-b641-c1440eb845b7" unselectable="on"></div><div id="vid_a2c93519-6dc2-4aec-b641-c1440eb845b7" unselectable="on" style="display:none;"></div></div><p>​​<br></p>2020-11-02T06:00:00ZNews<img alt="" src="/locations/washington-dc/PublishingImages/DC-behind-every-mask.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> <img alt="" height="309" src="/locations/washington-dc/PublishingImages/DC-behind-every-mask.jpg" width="309" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />text/html; charset=utf-8 NewsEvent
JP Morgan Chase Grant Supports Boys Town Washington DC Youth During Pandemic Morgan Chase Grant Supports Boys Town Washington DC Youth During Pandemic<p></p><p>The term “distance learning” took on a whole new meaning this past spring when the coronavirus pandemic overwhelmed the country and the world. Students were sent home as schools were closed. Technology became a necessity in order to learn at home as computers and internet access became the new normal when it came to learning outside of the classroom.</p><p>But not all students were so fortunate to have the resources needed to stay on pace with their peers. Thanks to the support of JP Morgan Chase, Boys Town Washington DC received the financial aid to facilitate learning at home.</p><p>Many of the families in our care do not have access to laptops or tablets, or even wifi. And, while the DC district schools provided laptops for some students, most of those computers went to high school and middle school students, leaving Boys Town DC's primary service group – elementary age students – without!</p><p>That's where JP Morgan Chase stepped up to help our youth.</p><p>Boys Town Washington DC was awarded an emergency assistance grant for school supplies and technology. The $5,000 grant went directly towards purchasing 17 tablets, directly impacting families in our Care Coordination program. The assistance came during a time when many families were unsure how to navigate at-home learning.</p><p>Our Care Coordinators worked directly with families to ensure they do not experience a delay in continuing their children's education online. However, these tablets have continued serving our families in more ways than one.</p><p>Due to the pandemic, Boys Town Washington DC was unable to host its annual summer camp in person. But with the aid of the tablets, the kids still received the opportunity to virtually experience the camp. This free summer camp has been an extension of our Care Coordination services. It has been offered to families that have a recorded history with truancy. The aim of the camp is to help children build skills that can be utilized in the classroom and to help parents with childcare during the summer months. It has provided structure, social-skills training and recreational and educational experiences during the summer break. Many of the children who attend the summer camp have never been to camp because their parents have never been able to afford it.</p><p>Thanks to the thoughtful donation from JP Morgan Chase, the kids did not fall behind, and they will return to school this fall feeling confident.</p><p>The grant was made possible with the help of our board member, Alfonso Pearson. Pearson is the Community Reinvestment and Partnership Relationship Manager for JP Morgan Chase.</p><p>“Chase is proud to support the needs of the communities that we serve by providing emergency funding as a result of the coronavirus pandemic to Boys Town Washington DC,” Pearson said. “The funding will support the distance learning needs of the young people receiving services at Boys Town.”<br></p>2020-08-04T05:00:00ZNewstext/html; charset=utf-8 NewsEvent
Mom, Son Replace Hurt with Healing, Thanks to Boys Town, Son Replace Hurt with Healing, Thanks to Boys Town<p></p><p>Benji's mom was troubled, frustrated and overwhelmed.</p><p>She was trying her best to get the help her 8-year-old son needed but she didn't think anyone was taking his problems seriously.</p><p>Benji had a history of violent emotional outbursts, destroying property at school, and threatening to hurt, and even kill, himself. Mom was always on edge and the home she and her son shared was in constant turmoil.</p><p>It wasn't until this worried mom reached out to the Outpatient Behavioral Health Clinic at Boys Town Washington DC that she felt like her son could truly get better. Mom initially contacted Boys Town and received consultation and assistance in arranging for the youngster to be admitted to a medical treatment center. Once his condition was stabilized, Benji and his mother started outpatient therapy with Dr. Avital Deskalo, a staff psychologist at the clinic.</p><p>With Benji displaying symptoms of ADHD, which further complicated his condition, therapy focused on addressing his ability to cope with difficult emotions and situations in a healthy manner and teaching him how to follow his mother's instructions at home without throwing tantrums.</p><p>Dr. Deskalo said a key to helping Benji improve his behaviors was teaching his mom how to use positive reinforcement.</p><p>“I modeled positive parenting approaches, such as labeled praise, and coached Benji's mother in applying labeled praise to different areas," Dr. Deskalo said. “His mother observed an improvement in Benji's behavior when she started to show positive emotion and attention strategically and at a higher rate."</p><p>While there were many tough moments, Benji's mom continued to work hard on using the new behavior management strategies she learned in therapy sessions and consistently addressed Benji's outbursts when they occurred.</p><p>The result has been a significant improvement in Benji's ability to work through difficult situations, and, most importantly, fewer outbursts. Mom has strengthened her relationship with her son and has become a more confident parent, bringing calm and stability to their home.  </p><p>“Things are so much better with the help of Boys Town and Dr. Deskalo," Benji's mom said. “I now have concrete and effective strategies to prevent problem behaviors or positively turn them around quickly when they begin."</p><p>Benji's treatment is ongoing as he and his mom continue their journey of healing. But the frustration and worry of the past has been replaced by hope, and Boys Town Washington DC will be with them every step of the way.<br></p>2020-08-04T05:00:00ZNewstext/html; charset=utf-8 NewsEvent