Father Edward Joseph Flanagan was born in 1886 in Ireland. He received his education in Ireland and in Rome. He was an American Roman Catholic clergyman. He finished his studies at the Jesuit University, Innsbruck, Austria.
In 1912 was ordained a priest. In 1914, he served as an assistant pastor at Saint Patrick's Church, in Omaha Nebraska. Father Flanagan started the Workingmen's Hotel, which was a shelter for penniless men. After three years of this work, he devoted his work to the youth. He wanted to help rehabilitate the troubled young boys.
He started the Home for Homeless Boys that was located on 106 North 25th street in Omaha. Once this home was started, Father Harty relieved Father Flanagan of his pastoral duties and he was allowed to have two nuns to go with him. Many of the boys were sent to him by court order or other citizens, and some boys just came in off the streets. The boys rode in a wagon pulled by a horse to get them to school only after Father Flanagan guaranteed the conduct of the boys would be appropriate.
This home was moved outside of Omaha about 10 miles and was renamed the Overlook Farm on October 22, 1921. This was integrated as a village that housed over one hundred boys. The home was available for all boys no matter their religion or race. The boys themselves govern this village.
The residents of Overlook Farm voted a change of name again to Boys Town in 1926. The site covers about thirteen hundred acres and has seventy-six family homes. Since the opening of the Boys Town in Omaha, it has expanded to many countries and thrives today.
Father Flanagan had passed away in 1948 and shortly before his death, he was asked if he worried the home would go on. He replied, "God will send. The work will continue you see, whether I am there or not, because it is God's work, not mine". His follower was Nicholas H. Wegner and under his direction, the New middle school was built. He tired after twenty-five years of service. Father Robert Hupp oversaw the Boys Town operation for the next twelve years. In 1985, Father Valentine Peter was the fourth executive Director for Boys Town.
What is Boys Town exactly? Well, it is a place that provides care and treatment for troubled youth. Girls were first allowed in Boys Town in 1979. The children that reside at the facility have experienced personal and/or family problems. Many suffer from emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. Substance abuse is included in the many problems of these youths. Delinquent or pre-delinquent are accepted at the facility also.
In 1974, Boys Town made a change from an institutional-care service to one that focuses on family care. Today, there are about six young children that dwell in each home in the village and throughout the Boys Town around the country. The young adults live with surrogate parents.
These parents go through many training classes and are married. These couples provide twenty-four-hour care and support for their kids that live with them. The surrogate parents ensure that the physical, emotional, and treatment needs are met for each of the children that live with them for a time. Boys Town has a unique teaching form.
It is referred to as the Boys Town Educational Model (BTEM) which is the modern version of the Teaching-Family Model (TFM). The teaching method emphasizes social skills and positive relations among the children and youth living in the family homes in Boys Town.
Self-government still remains an important part of Boys Town. All the residents have a say in the business part of Boys Town and also the rules of the homes they remain in. Since Boys Town has its own government it allows them to operate its own United States Post Office, fire department, police department, credit union, schools, churches, gift shops, and visitor center.
Boys Town owns its own farmland. This land provides the Town with its own food and the children that live there help work the land and help plant and raise the garden food. The farm is about four hundred acres.
Boys Town has now involved satellite sites. The services that are offered are Common Sense Parenting classes, which can help parents that have troubled children, emergency shelter services, and foster care with trained foster parents. For assistance for the foster care parents, a twenty-four-hour hotline is available. There is also a family safeguarding service and the Boys Town residential program on satellite. Since 1993 there were thirteen satellite sites.
Boys Town organization operates the Boys Town National Research Hospital that was started in 1977. Since the hospital was built more than one hundred thousand children and young adults have been treated. The hospital working with hearing, speech, and learning disorders. There is a high school named for Father Flanagan that was started in 1983. Boys Town inspired three films.
Boys Town made in 1938, Men of Boys town in 1941 which the saying "He ain't heavy, Father. He's my brother" was introduced to the Boys Town during the movie that Spencer Tracy starred in and Miracle of the Heart in 1986.
Boys Town offers many services for the children who need help and for families who need help. They have all the needs of the children in the Town; Education, counseling, parenting, guidance, and much love and understanding. It had expanded much more than father Flanagan had ever dreamt possible and it has helped millions of children through the years and continues on today.