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“When I left here, I always knew I wanted to come back.” Lily left her hometown of Chicago over 10 years ago to get a fresh start at Boys Town. But she never forgot her community. Today, she serves as a Youth Intervention Specialist for Chicago Public Schools, helping kids who face many of the same challenges she faced so many years ago. Determined to achieve change as a role model and mentor, Lily is providing positive opportunities and experiences to the kids of Chicago through community events like Dia de los Muertos and Amor al Arte.


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Lily: I remember that day walking with my friends and seeing a guy pull up on us, and he just stuck out his hand and he started shooting. That was a tree that saved my life. We examined the tree and there was a bullet there. And I remember thinking, like, how lucky I was that that tree was there and that we were able to dodge a bullet.

And I remember that day, like, thinking, "I want to have something different. I want to do something different." You know, that's when, after a while, I heard about Boys Town. My parents got on board and, you know, they figured that it would be the best choice at the time.

Boys Town changed my life by being able to provide a safe space, a space where I could put my guard down. They were able to provide me with that opportunity to be able to go to college and, you know, they were there every step of the way. When I left here, I always wanted to come back, and I think that was the perfect time.

I had finished college. I had done what I had to do. I kind of just wanted to come back and give back to my community. I am a youth intervention specialist, also known as the Dean, and my responsibilities here are to keep track of attendance, to do discipline, to try to intervene in crisis situations, and to also just, you know, continue to build that culture here in our community.

Boys Town has showed me that, you know, we can come together, that we can be a community. And when we do come together, we're more powerful than just being one person. When I was younger, we didn't have, like, the Dia de Los Muertos, or we didn't have the Amor al Arte promoting our culture, and to continue to, like, embrace that and be proud.

It has definitely been a great addition to the neighborhood, and this is why I continue to be part of that, because I know that it's making a difference. When I got into the Dean position, I was just, like, "Man," like, you know, "They're teaching the Boys Town model and, like, I know the Boys Town model. I know how it's supposed to work. I know how it's supposed to look, and not everybody can do the work here."

And I think I'm able to understand our youth, and to be able to connect with kids in different ways, you know, it's a privilege. It really is.

Brigitte: She had that foundational belief that kids are good. They're essentially good, and that they're worth her time, and her hard work, and her kindness. And that, you can't train people to possess.

I see a lot of myself in them and when I see them struggle, I think is when I am able to relate to them.

Marilee: Well, Lily can relate to most of us because of her background and stuff, and, like, she's not really quick to judge you on stuff.

Angela: I knew I could trust Lily because of the way she talks to us and the honesty that she gives us. It's like she means the things that she says.

Lily: I think graduation is one of my most emotional moments of the year, but also like to be able to see our graduates still be part of the neighborhood, still work in our neighborhood. And to start to be involved in the community, I think, you know, helps them be productive in life. It's amazing to see, like, that all the way out from rural Nebraska, I am here and back at the Yards, Chicago, and I'm still experiencing Boys Town, and Boys Town is still a big part of my life, and it continues to be a big part of my life, because I use these skills every day, and they just don't go away.