A couple of weeks ago, I spent a Friday in Omaha, Nebraska. Home of Godfather’s Pizza and Father Flanagan’s BoysTown. We were here to see the latter.
Before we even arrived I knew this trip was going to be a memorable experience. Banyan’s working relationship with BoysTown spans decades…longer than the sum of my whole professional career. And the work they do to heal families and help youth is inspiring. It’s been a joy to work with this organization, and it was an absolute privilege to be able to represent Banyan on BoysTown campus.
I truly was not prepared for what I was about to see.
First, we passed the school buildings, beautiful mid-century modern structures spread across scenic surroundings on a crisp fall day. Some kids were going to and from classes. It could have been any private prep school.
Next, we observed The BoysTown National Hotline call center, answer phone calls around the clock from all across the country.
As we drove through campus, we saw some of the 70 homes that host at-risk kids. A host family – usually a couple, sometimes with their own children – runs each house. BoysTown creates a safe, stable, and nurturing environment for kids who really need it the most.
We also spent some time at the Hall of History. The entrance of the museum illustrates that the problems of abused and neglected children are not new to society. The museum takes you on a journey of how BoysTown came together; you can see a model floor plan of one of the host homes.
You can also see Spencer Tracy’s Academy Award for the 1938 film about BoysTown, starring Mickey Rooney. Another award on display is a national Emmy that Banyan helped win on behalf of BoysTown in 2000.
Finally, we visited the chapel and the tomb where Dr. Flanagan is laid to rest. Did you know there’s an effort to get this man canonized!? It’s a lengthy process for sure, but how cool would sainthood be? I was beginning to wonder if he could’ve envisioned what BoysTown would become, when he took in those first five orphaned boys. Whatever the vision, I think it was big.
Speaking of which, did you know BoysTown hospital is a world leader in hearing research? Neither did I. Some of the more recent additions to campus include a behavioral health center and a brand new hospital!
There’s still acres to spare at BoysTown, and I’m sure it will continue to evolve. Hopefully I (we) can play some small role in creating that kind of change for good.