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Sowing the Seeds of Community Pride

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by

Father Steven Boes, Boys Town President and National Executive Director

Sowing the Seeds of Community Pride

Many boys and girls who come to Boys Town for care and treatment have lost something very important in their lives: a sense of belonging. The problems they’ve experienced have made them feel like they’re no longer part of a family or a community, like they’ve been set adrift and no longer fit in.

In our Family Home Program, Boys Town seeks to give children a sense of belonging by helping them heal in body, mind and spirit. Every boy and girl receives compassionate, therapeutic care from professionally trained, live-in married couples called Family-Teachers, who provide structured supervision and guidance in their daily activities. This includes meeting the educational, psychological, behavioral and medical needs of all of the six to eight youth who live in their Family Home.

On a typical day at Boys Town, our kids attend school, participate in school activities, prepare and eat meals with their Family-Teachers and the other youth in their home, complete chores and homework, and go on outings or play games as a family. Some youth may go to work at an off-campus job. Weekends also are structured, but every Family Home makes it a point for the youth and their Family-Teachers to enjoy activities together, both on and off campus.

As children become accustomed to living in a Family Home, they rediscover their sense of belonging and develop pride in being a member of the Boys Town community. Nurturing this close connection to their Boys Town “family” — other youth and staff members — is something that sets Boys Town apart from other residential programs and helps kids heal. Our kids face their problems side by side because they understand each other. They go to school together, play together, work together and pray together. They don’t say, “I live in Building 3”; instead, they proudly say, “I’m part of the Smith family” and “I’m a citizen of Boys Town.”

When our youth leave Boys Town, their feeling of community pride continues to grow, so as adults, wherever they live, they become part of and believe in something that is bigger than themselves.

Father Edward Flanagan, who founded Boys Town 100 years ago, not only wanted to give kids a safe, loving home, but also wanted to ensure that they had the necessary tools to become proud, productive citizens who could contribute to their communities and their country.

As caring parents, you have these same goals for your children. Through your love and guidance, you help your children develop strong family relationships and pride in who they are, their family and the community in which they live. You reinforce these feelings by loving your children, spending time and having fun together, praying and worshipping as a family, protecting and looking out for each other, and depending on each other in times of trouble or turmoil.

Father Flanagan said it best:
Children may be given every material advantage and still not have the feeling that they are secure in their environment. This comes from consciousness of being wanted. It is the awareness that someone cares. It is a certain confidence children have because of the attitude of others toward them. It is the feeling that they belong, that they are accepted, because of the contribution they make toward the needs and happiness of the group.