On December 12, 1917, Servant of God Father Edward Flanagan welcomed the first residents to his new children’s home in Omaha, Nebraska. After working with homeless men for several years, Father Flanagan realized that his true mission was to help the children no one wanted.
Over a period of several months, the priest took time each week to sit in the local courthouse to hear cases involving juvenile offenders. He was surprised to see that in most cases, the boy offenders had no family or adult supporters appear on their behalf. These boys were most often sent to live in a reform school. Father Flanagan made it his mission to be the voice of the children society ignored.
At the courthouse, he met fellow Omaha citizens who also were moved to help these children. One of them, Henry Monsky, donated $90 to Father Flanagan so he could rent an old boarding house for his new children’s home. Father Flanagan envisioned a home that welcomed all children, regardless of race or religion. He also vowed to accept no funding from the community chest or any religious group, thus creating a unique nonsectarian, nonproselytizing children’s home.
From these humble beginnings, Boys Town grew into a world-famous child and family care organization that today touches the lives of 2 million people each year through a variety of life-changing programs and services.