Thankful: Elvin's Story
From a poverty-stricken, drug-infested neighborhood in the lower east side of Manhattan to the tree-lined streets of Boys Town, Elvin's story encompasses a change of scenery as well as a change of heart. Elvin's early teen years were chaotic and culminated in a serious drug charge leading him to the Village of Boys Town. Twenty years later as he reflects on the time he spent in Nebraska he is full of gratitude and grace, especially for the relationship he formed with his Family-Teachers Bobby and Rhonda.
"They're more than just Family-Teachers, they're family."
See their bond and feel the love and pride that Bobby and Rhonda have when looking at the man Elvin has become today.
Watch Elvin's Story
Elvin: My name is Elvin, Boys Town class of 1997.
Elvin: I was born in Puerto Rico in 1978. And when I was one year old, we moved to New York City. Lower East Side, Manhattan, single mom, three kids. By the time I was in middle school, high school, you know, we were very poor. There were many times when my mom would, you know, swallow her pride and knock on a neighbor's door so that we can eat.
Elvin: Neighborhood that I grew up in was 1980s, 90s, a heavily drug-infested area. When I was 16 years old, I sold heroin to an undercover cop, not a good idea. And I ended up in a detention center run by Boys Town in Brooklyn. And it was in that detention center where even the possibility of coming to Nebraska was even presented.
Elvin: And then I remember driving onto the campus. And I remember it was like this idyllic streets and, you know, and we're driving in and I'm like, "Whoa, this is real. This is a real place."
Rhonda: I'm Rhonda Betzell, I'm a former Family-Teacher at Boys Town.
Bobby: And, I'm her husband, Bobby Betzell. We were Family-Teachers for six years.
Elvin: My relationship with them was, you know, they give instructions, they help us make decisions, they keep us on the straight and narrow, that kind of thing. But I think in the personal conversations is where relationships started to be built.
Rhonda: I think the Boys Town model works because it is made like a family.
Bobby: Yeah, we just loved them, they loved us back. And that happened with all the boys, but especially with Elvin.
Elvin: They were the template that I would use because I didn't have one. And so, you know, what's it look like for me to be a father? What's it look like for me to be a husband? What do those things look like? They were my model.
Elvin: I look back and it was in those early days, where my perspective and the way I view people started to change. And it was while I was at Boys Town.
Elvin: And so I'm one of the pastors at One Hope Church. And we are a diverse church in Omaha. Our mission is to multiply diverse disciples in churches. We wanna see every neighborhood, nation, and generation transformed by the love of Jesus. And, that's what I do.
Bobby: It always amazes me how much he loves other people, I mean, even strangers. We planted the seeds and now they're full blown.
Elvin: What I love most is being able to see people experience life change. I see their light bulbs go off and I say, oh, I recognize that because that's what happened to me.
Elvin: Boys Town was a life-saving experience for me. I'm so thankful for Boys Town. I'm so thankful.