Since its founding more than 100 years ago in Omaha, Nebraska, Boys Town has been a safe haven for children who have experienced trauma, abuse, neglect and other challenges. Boys Town New England was established in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, in 1991, so that Father Flanagan's mission could benefit the children and families of Rhode Island and its surrounding states. As programming expanded over the years, a need in the Pawtucket school system, specifically at Elizabeth Baldwin and Fallon Memorial elementary schools, became clear. In 2016, with the support of the United Way, the LIFT Together with Boys Town community partnership emerged.
As 2021 progresses, we will be sharing more information about our LIFT Together program with you so you too can experience the joy of families overcoming their struggles, eliminating obstacles, and finding success and stability. Today, we will share one such story; that of the Britto-Marquez family.
Yeleinys and her family began working with Boys Town in the fall of 2019. At the time, they had several issues plaguing them. Homelessness, mental health concerns for both mother and children, no stable income, unclear immigration status, a limited support network and previous instances of domestic violence, which had Yeleinys fearing for her safety, all prevented her and her kids from finding success and stability. Yeleinys struggled with thoughts of self-harm and suicide and felt she had no way out.
From day one, LIFT Together Consultant Rossana championed success for this family. She worked diligently alongside Yeleinys to create a plan that would systematically address every problem area identified. The biggest hurdle faced by this family was the behavioral and mental health needs of the children, which were exacerbated while the family struggled to find stable housing. Rossana constantly checked in on Yeleinys' and her children's well-being, and ensured detailed plans were set in place to keep them all safe. These step-by-step plans (If you are considering self-harm you will first call so-and-so, then you will…) were vital in guiding Yeleinys as she addressed the mental well-being of both herself and her kids.
As time went on, Rossana worked to empower Yeleinys' ability to advocate for herself and independently enact change to improve her children's futures. Rossana modeled things such as phone calls and in-person interactions with providers and proper completion of job applications. She employed empathy and teaching by suggestion to help Yeleinys develop problem-solving skills and gain confidence all on her own.
Throughout their time together, one thing stood out to Rossana and the LIFT Together team – Yeleinys' unwavering commitment to securing the best life possible for herself and her children, regardless of the obstacles she faced. Yeleinys went from being a shy, timid woman, to one who relentlessly advocated for herself. With Rossana's coaching, Yeleinys learned how to express her needs, appropriately disagree, ask for help, and accept “no" as an answer. These skills proved invaluable as Yeleinys successfully secured employment for herself and safe housing for herself and her children.
As we assemble this story in early January, Yeleinys is days away from signing a lease on her own apartment. With Rossana's help, she has employed a budget system to plan for her and her children's futures and has found resources to help her acquire furniture and other essentials for her future home.
Yeleinys has spoken of her gratefulness for Boys Town time and time again. No matter how many times she lashed out due to her frustration and anger, Yeleinys said Rossana never stopped supporting her. She showed endless compassion, patience and understanding. Through her guidance and grace, Rossana showed Yeleinys that she could do this. She could provide for herself and her children and find hope and healing from her past traumas, while moving towards a brighter, better future for her family.
To support Boys Town New England's LIFT Together program, please visit LIFTNewEngland.givesmart.com.