Boys Town

One place I really wanted to visit while we were in Omaha, Nebraska was Boys Town. I wasn't sure WHAT to expect, but I didn't expect to see what we saw!

We started out at the Visitors Center.

Click to enlarge the historical marker sign to get a little of the history of Boys Town.

Inside the Visitors Center is a cafeteria, gift shop, and stamp museum, where you will find the "World's Largest Ball of Stamps".

This hunk of stamps is 32 inches in diameter and weighs 600 pounds! It consists of 4,655,000 postage stamps! And yes, it IS listed in Ripley's Believe it or not!

Behind the stamp ball is a mural, also made out of stamps.

Close up of stamps on mosaic

It is free to tour the grounds of Boys Town, but I recommend stopping at the Visitors Center and pick up the CD that guides you throughout the area. It requires a $5 donation (and they requested you to return the CD). It is well worth it.

Father Flanagan's Boys Home was officially founded in December of 1917 and moved to different sites until Overlook Farm was purchased in May of 1921. "By 1925 the Home had provided care to 1,790 boys from 29 states and 25 nationalities; 1,100 were Protestant, 626 Catholic and 57 Jewish. In his lifetime, Father Flanagan cared for over 19,000 boys in the Home and influenced the care of vulnerable youth throughout the world."
courtesy of Boys Town pamplet

It certainly has grown from then! This is called Flanagan House.

It was closed the day we visited, but inside includes Father Flanagan's office, the first chapel, dormitory, school room and nuns quarters.

Across from the building were blocks that were donated from alumni and family members. Some of the messages are so heartwarming!

Boys Town accept children (they began accepting girls in 1979) who are ages 10-18 and are neglected, abused, homeless or other similar situations.

They attend Middle School:

high school,

or vocational center.

They have a large field house for their sporting activities.

I was surprised to learn of the living situation.

"Six to eight boys or girls live in each single-family home with a married couple called Family-Teachers. Many of these children have serious emotional and behavioral problems. They have not been able to stay in their own family’s home but can function safely in a community setting. Family-Teachers and their assistants provide compassionate, effective treatment while meeting the daily needs of each child. During their stay, children learn social skills, attend school, participate in extracurricular activities and take part in daily chores and activities as members of their Treatment Home family. The ultimate goal is to reunify children with their families, whenever possible. These children come to the program from other Boys Town programs, through referrals by agencies like social services and juvenile justice, or through private placements by parents or other caregivers. The average length of stay is 12 to 18 months. When children leave, they generally return to their families or begin to live on their own (usually working, attending college or joining the military)."
courtesy of 

Here are a couple of the homes that were located on a regular residential street. The Family-Teachers do not have any other job - their job is to be there for these kids 24 hours.

These are girls dorms where there are also Family-Teachers.

To be continued....
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