As a child, Corey was the victim of abuse by his biological father. He was adopted, but because of his early childhood trauma, Corey showed a high level of aggression toward his adoptive parents and was later placed into a high-level rehabilitation center by the Rhode Island Department of Child Youth Family (DCYF). Translation: Corey wasn’t wanted by his biological parents nor his adoptive parents.
Think about that.
After several more years, DCYF suggested Corey go to a facility that focused on a family environment. And that’s when everything changed.
Corey came to Boys Town at age 13 with goals to learn how to respect authority, build trust in relationships and understand the value of community. The hope was that Corey would improve skillsets in understanding boundaries with others and learning how to cope when things weren’t going well.
“When Corey first got here, he was receptive to Boys Town because it meant he was five minutes away from his family,” Family Home Program Consultant Tim Croteau said. “The goal, as it is for all of our kids, is (family) visits followed by reunification.”
Corey has succeeded in mastering those skills so effectively that he advanced to being able to be a member of the Middletown High School baseball team, work two different jobs and begin his college search. Within Boys Town he graduated to the Achievement level – the highest level any youth can attain. This means he no longer is required to have the Boys Town behavior point card, he has his own cell phone and he can now hang out with friends like any other kid would do. In the last four years, only four other kids at Boys Town New England have reached this level.
Corey is a poster child for the Boys Town model of care and the belief that every kid is a good kid. He didn’t choose the circumstances into which he was born, yet those circumstances often determine one’s chance for success. Many are fortunate that when things get tough, we have family to support us. Corey didn’t have a family, nor a community until he arrived in Portsmouth to the Boys Town Bazarsky Campus. Despite numerous attempts, Corey’s family didn’t choose to visit Corey, which led to continual disappointments. Despite those heartbreaking realities, Corey persevered.
The Boys Town goal is for kids to be reunified with their families, moved to Foster Care or adopted. At his age and due to his circumstances, none of these options materialized for Corey.
“To Corey’s credit, he accepted that his hope for returning home wasn’t going to happen and he changed his goals,” Croteau said. “His goals are now to pursue a career, get a job and go to college.”
“To see Corey’s progress and how he has learned from all of his challenges just puts a smile on our faces,” Family-Teacher Brandon Depina said. “Corey took control of his life, which was great to see.”
Added Brandon’s wife, Lisabeth, “I am so proud of how hard he works in school, at his job and on campus. He understands his goals and you can literally see him thinking about them and processing how to make them happen.”
The hero of this Boys Town story is charmingly nonchalant about his ability to overcome enormous obstacles.
“Boys Town has given me the ability to break down barriers and to achieve goals I never even considered when I came here,” Corey said. “I got to discover what I was good at in a community that really cares about me. I can now deal with my frustrations. Boys Town is truly my second home.”