Growing Stronger Together: The Silver Lining from the Coronavirus

No one would have imagined last year when planning the 2020 Boys Town North Florida Spirit of Youth Gala that we would find ourselves in our current situation. Families and children quarantined at home; technology taking a front seat to in-person meetings; protective facemasks a routine part of our daily dress-code is the new normal.

April 17, 2020, was supposed to be an evening in which we celebrated with friends and supporters the resilience, strength and success of the families and children in our care. Funny thing, despite the cancelation of our site's largest fundraiser due to the pandemic, the resilience, strength and success of our families and staff shines brighter now than ever before.

The coronavirus pandemic has given us more time for self-reflection. We are finding new hobbies, learning a new language or spending more time with family. There is time to teach our kids to read or improve their math skills. We can explore the outdoors and meet neighbors we didn't know before or play games or take naps. This is true for the Boys Town community as well.

It is evident in the stronger bonds created within our Foster Care families who have not wavered in their commitment to providing a safe and welcoming home. It can be found in our Family-Teachers, who provide love and guidance to the youth in their care as they become more cohesive as a neighborhood community. They are finding new and creative ways to keep the children engaged while staying safe on campus.

It can be found in the smiles from the more than 100 families in our Care Coordination Services program, whose consultants ensure families continue to receive the essential resources they need while staying home with their kids. Or in the eyes of our In-Home Services families, who are grateful for the consultants who work 24/7 providing support and assistance to ensure their families are nurtured and receive the skills needed to remain together during this unprecedented time.

The times are different, and much is still unknown. What we do know, however, is our friends and supporters have rallied around us to make sure Boys Town will get through these uncertain times. We want to acknowledge those early sponsors of the 2020 Spirit of Youth Gala who so generously believed in our efforts. This includes Armand and Suzanne Cognetta, Walmart, Rowland Publishing, The Gabor Agency, John Gandy Events and the many individuals who purchased tickets. We also wish to thank those who contributed April 17, when we transitioned from a Gala to a Day of Giving. While falling short of our Gala revenue goal, we remain committed to providing the same level of programs and services to our families and children that is expected from Boys Town North Florida. We will continue to provide hope and healing to our community and do so with resilience, strength and grace.