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Father Steven Boes, President and National Executive Director of Boys Town

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Standing on the Shoulders of Genius

The following is from a “State of Child Care” presentation by Father Steven Boes, President and National Executive Director of Boys Town, at a recent celebration of Boys Town’s 100-year anniversary. They illustrate Boys Town’s ongoing efforts to adapt our mission to meet the ever-changing needs of America’s children and families as we begin our second century of service.  Boys Town’s founder, Father Edward Flanagan, was a genius. I believe at the heart of that genius was his openness to explore ...

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Boys Town Contributor

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America’s No. 1 War Dad

When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, three former Boys Town residents died along with the more than 2,000 other victims of the attack. Over the ensuing war years, Father Flanagan received letters from many of the thousand former Boys Town citizens fighting in Europe and the Pacific. In fact, so many former Boys Town boys named Father Flanagan as their next of kin that the American War Dads Association named him as America’s No. 1 War Dad. ...

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The Statue that Never Was

In the early 1960s, Monsignor Nicholas Wegner, Boys Town director at the time, conceived a plan to place a memorial to Father Flanagan on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Monsignor Wegner selected an artist and approved a design, which was turned into a miniature. But that’s as far as the project progressed.

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By Father Steven Boes, President and National Executive Director, Boys Town

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Acceptance and Equality Must Be Part of Every Child’s Life Lessons

Father Edward J. Flanagan was far ahead of his time, sometimes dangerously so. When he founded his home for boys (later to become known as Boys Town) 100 years ago in Omaha, Nebraska, he welcomed youngsters of all races, religions and cultural backgrounds, and he provided care for all of them under one roof. This approach was unheard of in the early 1900s, and even though many local citizens supported Father Flanagan’s work, there were those who disapproved and even made threats ...

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America’s First Boy Band

Father Edward J. Flanagan loved music. Growing up in Ireland, he would gather with his family in the evenings to sing and play instruments as they sat around their home’s hearth. Father Flanagan also believed that music was a positive hobby and outlet for children. After he founded Boys Town in 1917, he immediately began to organize a musical program for the boys. One of the earliest Boys Town band leaders was Dan Desdunes, leader of the Dan Desdunes Band, which ...

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Boys Town Centennial Celebration Featured on NBC Nightly News

Video courtesy of NBC Nightly News. Recently, NBC Nightly News sent correspondent Anne Thompson to Omaha to check in on Boys Town as it celebrates its centennial birthday. Check out the video below and share it with your friends.

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How Father Flanagan’s Kennedy Book Was Almost Lost to History

Perhaps it was the “luck of the Irish.” Whatever the reason, an extremely important, valuable and rare book was almost lost forever, were it not for the sharp eyes of a Boys Town employee at a library book sale. Father Flanagan’s personally signed copy of President John F. Kennedy’s Harvard thesis “Why England Slept” now holds a prominent place in Boys Town’s Hall of History. Watch the video below to learn the amazing story of how it ended up there.

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Father Flanagan’s Desk: More than Just a Workspace

Crafted from more than 250,000 pieces of wood from all around the world, this 320-pound intricately inlaid desk tells a story of dedication and perseverance. It was hand-made by 20 boys as a Christmas present for Father Edward J. Flanagan. The desk took more than three years to complete and was presented to the Boys Town founder in 1939. Learn more about its fascinating story when you watch the video below.

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A Road Much Traveled

There’s not much left of Birch Drive today — just a few jagged pieces of crumbling concrete. But in its heyday, this tree-lined street was the path to a second chance for homeless young men and boys coming from as far away as Florida and Washington. Watch the video below to learn more about their historic journey.

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Four Reasons Why Boys Town Needs to be a Stop on Your Omaha Vacation

If you’re planning a road trip to Omaha, Neb., make sure to mark an afternoon off for Boys Town and let your kids experience what makes Boys Town unique. John Sennert, Boys Town Gift Shop Manager, shares some insights on what to see and do when you get here. 1. The World’s Largest Stamp Ball The World’s Largest Stamp Ball is a favorite with children and adults alike and everyone gets their photo taken with it. Children can go through our “penny ...

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Boys Town Partnership with Lincoln Electric Helps Forge Bright Future for Grads

Thanks to Josh Temple — television host, licensed contractor and vocal Boys Town supporter — and his friends at Lincoln Electric, young men and women who are learning to weld at Boys Town’s Career Readiness Center are now using the latest high-tech equipment and gear. Since its founding 100 years ago, Boys Town has supported trade education for youth, at various times teaching carpentry, farming, machining and other skills as part of Father Flanagan’s vision to give at-risk youth every opportunity ...

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Boys Town Supporters Are Everywhere

We like to say, “Boys Town kids are everywhere.” And they are. Given a second chance for success, they graduate from Boys Town to become teachers, police officers, congressional interns, social workers and more. At the midpoint of our 100th year, we can also say, “Boys Town supporters are everywhere.” To celebrate our centennial, we first asked corporate sponsors and community partners across the nation to show their support for Boys Town by displaying our centennial materials around their buildings, campuses ...

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Father Steven Boes, Boys Town President and National Executive Director

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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 ...

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Father Steven Boes, Boys Town National Executive Director

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One Man’s Vision, One Nation’s Transformation

On Dec. 12, 2016, Boys Town marks its 99th anniversary of saving children and healing families. As we begin the celebration of our centennial year, it is fitting that we honor the legacy of our founder, Servant of God Father Edward Flanagan. Boys Town’s mission to change the way America cares for children, families and communities began with his dream and thrives today to benefit boys and girls across the country. In the early 1900s, the treatment and living conditions ...

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Saving Children by Empowering Our Schools

“I feel like everybody has come together. It’s like a family here. I’m happy to come to school every day.” — Robert, High School Student Father Flanagan believed that children aren’t inherently bad; they’re only as bad or good as their environment and education. Nearly a century later, Boys Town is still guided by his forward-thinking philosophy — although it has expanded beyond residential care for at-risk youth to include a variety of services. One such service is the Boys Town Educational Model®, ...

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Tom Lynch, Director of Community Programs and the Boys Town Hall of History

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Education Has Always Been the Cornerstone of Success at Boys Town

In 1917, Father Edward J. Flanagan founded Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska, as a revolutionary home for children. At Boys Town, children were valued, nurtured and cared for with compassion and understanding. Why were Father Flanagan’s ideas and practices considered to be so contrary to America’s prevailing child care system? Boys Town was conceived through years of research by Father Flanagan as a response to the American concept of eugenics. The philosophy of eugenics stated that a child’s race, religion or social ...

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Tom Lynch, Director of Community Programs and the Boys Town Hall of History

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Trailblazing Olympian Got His Start at Boys Town

Father Edward Flanagan knew sports helped children physically and emotionally. That’s why one of the first youth programs he organized was a baseball league for Omaha’s homeless children. At Boys Town, Father Flanagan created a large intramural program that involved everyone. Baseball, football, basketball, track and other sports gave his kids the opportunity to have fun, exercise, learn team building skills and, most importantly, experience success. One young lad who took advantage of these extracurricular activities was Charles “Deacon” Jones. He arrived ...

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Tom Lynch, Director of Community Programs and Boys Town Hall of History 

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Valentines and Voting Booths

Valentine’s Day has always been special at Boys Town, but it was especially true in 1926. It was Election Day at the Home, and the outcome ushered in a new era. Boys Town founder, Servant of God Father Edward Flanagan, was a big believer in civic responsibility. He wanted the children at the Home to be good citizens and learn about the law and government. He advocated a form of self-government that gave boys a voice in the rules that governed ...

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Tom Lynch, Director of Community Programs and Boys Town Hall of History

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Through the Decades, Christmas Traditions Have Brought Holiday Happiness to Boys Town Youth

“No season of the entire year brings with it such warmth of feeling and such a sense of peace as Christmas time.” Servant of God Edward Flanagan Father Flanagan’s Home for Boys had been open only eight days when the boys in Servant of God Edward Flanagan’s care celebrated their first Christmas in 1917. Their Christmas meal that day consisted of a barrel of sauerkraut donated by a local merchant. Years later, Servant of God Flanagan reflected on that momentous holiday: “...I ...

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Thomas Lynch, Director of Community Programs and Boys Town Hall of History

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Through the Decades, Boys Town Youth Celebrate a Tradition of Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving means so much more than turkey and pumpkin pie to the children of Boys Town. It is a special holiday celebration when our young citizens express how thankful they are for a new start and a new direction in their lives. Our founder, the Servant of God Edward Flanagan, often said that the most appreciative children in America were those who lived at Boys Town. The early Thanksgiving celebrations at Boys Town were often simple events, mainly because there wasn’t ...

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Tom Lynch, Director of Community Programs and the Boys Town Hall of History

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Father Flanagan Never Lost Touch with Hometown Ballymoe

In 1886, Boys Town founder Father Edward J. Flanagan was born in the township of Leabeg, County Roscommon, Ireland. But while Leabeg was his place of birth, Father Flanagan always considered the nearby village of Ballymoe, County Galway, as his hometown. A rural farming community located in western Ireland, the village was surrounded by the ruins of ancient castles and had origins that stretched back hundreds of years. When Father Flanagan was a young boy, several long-time businesses and pubs lined ...

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Tom Lynch, Director of Community Programs and the Boys Town Hall of History

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Halloween at Boys Town

The Servant of God Edward Flanagan founded Boys Town to be a home for abandoned and orphaned children. His intention was to provide the boys a family-based lifestyle whenever possible. This included the celebration of holidays. One major fall holiday was Halloween. Being Irish, the Servant of God Flanagan had celebrated this holiday in his native country. Once the Home had moved to Overlook Farm, the Halloween celebrations became a fall harvest event. In the 1920s, the Servant of God would ...

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Tom Lynch, Director of Community Programs and the Boys Town Hall of History

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The Day Father Flanagan Died

The U.S. Government Had Called on the Founder of Boys Town to Help Children in Post-War Asia and Europe   It was a story made famous by Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney. During the winter of 1917, Father Edward J. Flanagan borrowed $90 from a friend and turned an Omaha boardinghouse into a residence for homeless and neglected boys. The young Irish immigrant priest stuck to his then radical idea that all boys were welcome regardless of race or religion. By the late ...

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Father Steven Boes, President and National Executive Director of Boys Town

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Boys Town’s National Reach and Impact

On beautiful spring days like today, I love to sit outside and reflect on all of God’s glorious deeds. The miracles of the heart that happen for the young people in our care at Boys Town would certainly be high on that list for me. What an absolute blessing it is to see Father Flanagan’s dream continue every day in the lives of the children and families with whom we work. What started nearly a hundred years ago with a few ...

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Tom Lynch, Director of Community Programs and the Boys Town Hall of History

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Boys Town Self-Government: Citizenship in Action

Boys Town founder Father Edward Flanagan once described his work as “building good Americans.” He believed that being a good citizen required active participation in the political process and voting. To give his boys a chance to experience and experiment with these activities, he set up a system of self-government at Boys Town. In 1935, Boys Town residents went to the polls to elect their very first mayor and Village commissioners. The elections allowed all the boys to have a voice ...