Monday, April 25, 2011

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....


Brian Miller said...

ok the stamp ball and mural are way impressive...and cant imagine the houses...just b/c of the kids i work them but...sounds like most group home facilities i go into...takes a special person

Teresa - in the Middle Side of Life said...

very cool! the stamp ball is quite impressive

Lakers' Blog said...

What a wonderful place. It takes a lot of dedication to raise one troubled child - to think the house parents have 5 or 6. They must be wonderful people. Your blogs are so interesting and the pictures amazing.

The Bipolar Diva said...

What an amazing place, and all those!

Donna B said...

This is TOTALLY AWESOME! Boys Town with Mickey Rooney and Spencer Tracy as Fr. Flannigan was one of my favorite tear jerkers! This was so interesting...Where we going next?

David Allen Waters said...

that stamp ball is way cool...and the work they do in boys town is nothing short of angelic ;)

Eva Gallant said...

What a great place to share with us. I had no ides it had grown so large!

Valerie said...

Thank goodness there are special people on the earth who can care for those less fortunate than ourselves. Isn't it amazing what can be done with a few million stamps; I wouldn't know where to start.

Bossy Betty said...

So cool and what a worthy cause. Talk about making a difference in the world!

Pam Holnback said...

I am familiar w. Boys Town. The school district that I taught in before retirement adapted the Boys Town Social Skills to our curriculum. A group from Boys Town came to our District for 3 days and every teacher was trained in the Boys Town Philosophy. We had posters w. the social Skills in every class room. It's pretty amazing!

labbie1 said...

The bricks say everything I think. The change that the place has made in many lives.

The stamp mural is cool! And the stamp ball--really? Who comes up with this stuff? Kansas has the string ball.

Speaking of KS, if you get to Abilene, KS, be sure to go through the Eisenhower Museum and Center. Both of you will find things there to enjoy, but leave a LOT of time! We were thrilled with it!

Oh and be sure to visit the Brookville Hotel for fried chicken and speak with the owner who may take you for a tour and give you the story behind the murals. So interesting!

I could go on and on about Abilene, but you could spend days there!

labbie1 said...

PS I LOVE your fence picture at the top of your blog!

SquirrelQueen said...

I have read about Boys Town at various times through the years, seen the movie, etc. but I had no idea how it really worked. The concept of the Family-Teachers is intriguing. I'm looking forward to part two and seeing more of this amazing place.

becky said...

Interesting place, Pat. It's sad to know that there are so many kids abused & neglected, but good to know there are places like this that will help them.

Snowflake said...

Thanks for sharing your visit to Boys Town. Once again you have done an excellent job of writing about and photographing a place that some of us will maybe never get a chance to see. What a wonderful place for troubled youth to go and have a second chance at life!!