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Read Their Stories

  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​Our ​​Success Lies in Their Stories
    Everyone at Boys Town has a story, a story of hope, triumph and success.

    We have a mountain of data that proves Boys Town's system of care works. However, the true and last​ing measure of our success lies in the thousands of individual stories from children and families who have overcome painful pasts and built bright futures with your help.


  • Guidance
    Boys Town brings homeless brothers into the light.

    Whenever Boys Town learns of situations where children are in chaotic or life-threatening environments, it mobilizes resources, directly and indirectly, so those children stay safe and find support. Depending on the circumstances, Boys Town provides direct care and shelter or coordinates services with other agencies and groups so the immediate and long-term needs of the children are met. It is this broadly inclusive and collaborative approach to care that saved the lives of two brothers.

    Zachary and his younger brother Brian were cold and in the dark. It was February in the Midwest. Their mother, overwhelmed by financial burdens and alcohol addiction, packed up and left to live in another state. The two boys had no money to pay the rent or the utilities. They were threatened with eviction, the electricity was shut off, and they had no way to heat the house or even cook a meal. Both brothers were attending school. In desperation, they turned to their teachers for help, asking for blankets and food. Their teachers did what they could to help with their immediate needs. Then they called Boys Town.

    Boys Town welcomed Zachary and Brian to its nearby short-term residential facility, where they would be safe and warm while staff members worked on finding a more permanent living arrangement. Eventually, a local family took in Brian. But because Zachary had turned 18, it was difficult to find a home for him. With graduation approaching, Zachary had no permanent place to live and no plan for the future. Putting the teen's well-being and safety first, Boys Town decided to have Zachary remain at the residential facility while he finished school and continued his extracurricular activities. Boys Town also helped the teen get into a job-training program where he could begin learning a trade.

    After graduating high school, Zachary stayed in touch with the Boys Town staff and has come back to visit. He completed his job training and now has a good job with a local business. Zachary stays in close touch with Brian, who is doing well in school and enjoys living with his foster family. With Boys Town's guidance, two brothers found a way out of the darkness.

  • Coping
    Maria was battling chronic alcohol abuse and could no longer care for her two little girls.

    Maria Mathews was referred to Boys Town due to chronic alcohol abuse. For Maria, the mother of 8-year-old Emma and 5-year-old Katie, it was not the first time she was involved with the Department of Human Services. A few years ago, her alcohol use forced authorities to remove Emma and Katie from their home. However, Maria was able to pull her life together and stay sober so that Emma and Katie could return.

    Maria attributed her relapse to the news that a family member had sexually abused Emma. Devastated, she couldn't cope and slipped back into alcohol abuse to keep from feeling the pain and anger in her heart. As a result, Emma and Katie were again removed from the home.

    When a Boys Town Family Consultant first began working with the Mathews family, Maria was very obstinate. She refused to talk about her alcohol abuse or the issues that caused her to relapse. She was convinced there she would never get her children back and decided she deserved whatever happened.

    The Family Consultant immediately began working with Maria, Emma and Katie one-on-one to try to establish a rapport. After several intense sessions, the Family Consultant began teaching Maria healthy coping skills. Soon after, she agreed that the only way to truly beat her alcohol addiction was to enter substance abuse treatment.

    The day Maria started her outpatient addiction treatment; there was a notable change in her attitude toward sobriety. She began interacting more during visits and even began to thank the Family Consultant for her patience and willingness to help her family.

    After three months of Boys Town In-Home Family Services paired with substance abuse treatment, Maria was consistently demonstrating an ability to cope with the traumatic events involving her children without feeling she needed to use alcohol. She consistently reported feeling hopeful and remained committed to remaining alcohol-free.

    A few months later, visits between Maria and her children had progressed from fully supervised to semi-supervised visits to unsupervised. A short time later, Emma and Katie were reunited with their mother. They are now looking forward to the promise of a bright future, a future that not long ago simply didn't exist.

    Maria still remains in contact with her Family Consultant. As services were coming to an end, she would regularly hug the Family Consultant and thank her for her patience and dedication to helping the Mathews' get their family back.

  • Abandoned
    When Stevie was young, he bounced from one foster care home to another.

    Stevie was a child nobody wanted. When he was small, his parents gave him up, and he started bouncing from one foster care home to another. As a teen, he ran away many times. He lived on the streets, scavenging for food, sleeping in alleys and stealing or panhandling. He never went to school, so he couldn't read or write. Stevie depended solely on his street smarts for survival. For a long time, no one paid much attention to him.

    When Stevie came to Boys Town, he finally found a caring home and family where he felt he belonged. He's trying hard to catch up in school, and he's making progress. He's hoping to graduate from high school in the next few years, and Boys Town will be there to help him make plans for his future.

    At Stevie's first Christmas with us, his first in many years not spent on the streets, he received and gave presents, went to church, ate a turkey dinner, and got a hug from Santa Claus, all the things he had missed as a child without a nurturing home.

  • Control
    With no family or place to call home, Tanya let her anger get the best of her.

    Nothing was going right in Tanya's life before she came to Boys Town. Her mom was in and out of her life when she was young, and for several years, Tanya was moved from placement to placement. She skipped school and ran with a crowd that always found trouble.

    "Boys Town means a lot to me, but most of all, it means help."

    Tanya often let her anger get the best of her. She did what she felt like doing, and anyone who tried to stop her became the enemy. She never really learned to control her emotions, and that usually led to bigger and worse problems. Tanya didn't think anyone cared about her, and she'd given up hope that anyone ever would.

    When Tanya was first admitted to Boys Town, her old habits made life rough for her and everyone she lived with. But her Family-Teachers never gave up. Behind Tanya's anger and despair, they saw goodness and a promising future. They knew she had to learn how to live life differently, with hope and encouragement. Gradually, Tanya came to understand that she was being welcomed into a caring family where she had a chance to change.

    Today, Tanya is an excellent Boys Town student with a list of achievements and awards. She plays sports and is involved in other school activities. She is hoping to someday reunite with her mother. Most importantly, she has learned to respect others and herself, and to make good decisions about what she wants to do with her life.

  • Progress
    With three little boys at home, Jane couldn't cope and eventually attempted suicide.

    Jane Jones' responsibilities were too much. With three little boys at home, Jane felt she couldn't adequately provide the care they needed. First she turned to alcohol and drugs and eventually attempted suicide to try and escape.

    The boys were immediately sent to their grandparents and a Family Consultant became involved. The Consultant not only got Jane the support she needed, but also provided parenting skills to both mom and grandma.

    Throughout services, the Family Consultant showed the women how to consistently parent the children, be united in their approaches to limit confusion in the different households, and most importantly, keeping the children safe.

    Jane received mental health treatment, as well as substance abuse treatment, and reframed it back to her being able to care for herself and her children. By actively participating in substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment, Jane achieved 7 months of sobriety and earned a full-time job. Most importantly, her children were able to come home for a trial visit. Jane was mentally stable and she was able to use the Common Sense Parenting  skills to set clear expectations for her children and issue age appropriate rewards/consequences.

    Even with all of Jane's progress, the Family Consultant knew that she would need a support system to stay sober. The Consultant helped to build system of individuals who can identify signs when Jane is struggling and offer support and assistance.

    Currently, Jane has been sober for over a year and she continues to work to keep her family together. If it weren't for Boys Town, Jane would have never believed in herself enough to take on the responsibilities of being a mother.

  • Reflections
    Read heartfelt messages of hope from children and families.


    Before I came to Boys Town, I was in jail and I stopped caring about how my life would turn out. But when I came to Boys Town, I learned I could start over and make my family proud of me by doing good in school and sports. I see my Boys Town family has love for me and wants to see me do good in life, to give me that push until I get it right. You have given me a home, somewhere to be safe and feel safe, a place I call my second home. You have helped me with college and now I am smart enough to succeed. Thank you Boys Town.

    - David


    Before I came to Boys Town, I was a manipulative person who always thought about myself. I did not have a father in my life. I started to smoke, drink, make bad decisions, skip school with negative people, get into fights and steal things. I had a bad relationship with my mom because I wouldn't listen to her. When I came to Boys Town, I was willing to try to make it work because I was tired of letting down my mom and other people. I was sick of not being able to accomplish things. Boys Town has changed me into a more mature, spiritual man. I thank you for giving me this opportunity to change my life.

    - Daytwon


    Before I came here, I was pretty mad at the world for dealing me a bad hand. It was everybody else's fault. I took responsibility. I knew no remorse. I believed the world revolved around me and I thought I knew it all. What happened when I came was I realized I was not mad at the world. I was mad at myself. I had to forgive myself for walking the path of destruction. I began by understanding my failures. I started to appreciate what I have. I have a family back home and a family right here. I now have the energy inside of me to make myself proud. Thank you Boys Town. You gave me a chance.

    - Jordan


    Before I came to Boys Town, I was selfish. All I cared about was drugs and alcohol. I hurt my family, put my friends first. I was heartless. When I came to Boys Town, I hated it at first. I was mad at my mom for putting me here. I went through cycles of hating it here and loving it here. I knew it was for the best. You helped me control my anger so I could become closer to my family. You gave me strength to believe in myself and know I am not a failure. Thank you Boys Town.

    - Michaela


    When I came to Boys Town, I was disrespectful, ungrateful and selfish. I quit everything that was hard. I wanted the easy way. But when I came to Boys Town, I knew if I wanted to change I would have to sacrifice to achieve my sense of accomplishment. You gave me structure, support and the encouragement I needed. I participated in football, wrestling and soccer, joined the student council and took part in all kinds of activities. Thank you Boys Town.


  • Struggle
    After Years of Struggle, This Family Is Whole Again.

    It was early morning, and Bethany Nelson was supposed to be getting ready for school. But the 13-year-old didn't want to go to class. Despite the prompts, pleas and pestering from her parents, she was defiant.

    This battle of wills became a full-blown war when Bethany screamed, hurled objects and physically attacked her mother. It was such a volatile scene, the police were called.

    The events that morning led to Bethany being placed in a group home. Eventually, at 15, she came to the Boys Town Family Home ProgramSM. For the next two years, she learned life skills that empowered her to manage her emotions, communicate her feelings and heal her emotional wounds.

    While it took much patience and skill teaching from her Family-Teachers, the married couple who provided care for Bethany and several other girls in the Family Home, Bethany's behavior and attitude changed for the better. She became a role model and mentor to her "sisters" in the home and, after living apart from her parents for several years, was ready to be reunited with her family.

    Before the Nelsons could come together as a family, however, they needed support and guidance.

    A Family Consultant from Boys Town's In-Home Family Services met with Bethany's parents, Julie and James. The couple was anxious, even hesitant, about their daughter's return. Life was going well for Bethany, and they didn't want to jeopardize her success. Bethany, too, was nervous; yet hopeful.

    To dispel their doubts and anxieties, the Consultant had monthly meetings with Bethany and her parents to discuss their goals and expectations. The Consultant also reviewed social skills and role-played situations with Bethany to reinforce the staying-calm strategies she had learned. With Mom and Dad, the Consultant provided coaching in Boys Town's Common Sense Parenting techniques and showed them how to use family meetings to address problems and improve communication.

    All their preparation paid off when the family successfully reunited. Still, the Consultant continued meeting regularly with the Nelsons as their focus turned toward maintaining success and family harmony. Services ended only when family members were comfortable using their skills and strategies to de-escalate situations and resolve issues on their own.

    In a years-long journey marked by turmoil and triumphs, regrets and resilience, the Nelsons never lost hope. Now, they're doing "awesome" and reaping the rewards of a home filled with more understanding and unconditional love.

The stories provided about the children and families in our care are real. In some cases, names may be changed and details altered to protect their privacy and therapeutic interests.