Understanding that the Fort Smith Boys Shelter celebrated its 40th year in 2018 says a lot. It is easy to consider that 1000’s of foster children have come through our door during those 40 years. While immensely proud of the 40 year accomplishment, the staff and board members have spent the last 4 years making our facility more of a HOME than a SHELTER.

We understand very well that the Boys Home is not “their” home and will never be, but hopefully, we can bridge the gap between their removal and reunification if at all possible. Renaming the Boys Shelter to the Boys Home is something that we are very proud of and we consider it a huge success to have done so.

A few of the boys in our care have said, “ this is not a home, there are too many rules!” The reply, “ Young man there are rules everywhere, and those rules also apply to a home, without rules chaos would take over.”

Let’s look back at the last 4 years and talk about some of the successes. We have added new flooring, paint, bathroom remodels, countertops, refrigerator, disposal, dishwasher, freezer, furniture, beds, dressers, transport van, fence, mediation area, burn pit, landscaping, computers, TV’s, aquarium, lawnmower, pavilion lighted ceiling, sponsors, friends and supporters. While those are simply material things, they mean little and can always be replaced. However, those positive successes uplift attitudes for both residents and staff. We are committed to continuing the improvements and moving forward in a positive direction.

Now the REAL SUCCESSES…. The boys

The third Success story here at the Boys Home, is about a young teenage boy we will call Aaron. His family lost rights while he was here and he has prayed, sense then, for a family that would love him.

Over the last year and a half we have had the privilege of taking care of many wonderful young men who have been at a difficult time of their lives. They have been away from family, friends, and everything they consider important. In many cases, circumstances beyond their control put them in Foster Care and the custody of the Department of Human Services. Not only does the child lose their parents, but often siblings are split up and the emotional suffering is just beginning for them.

 

The hope is that the parents or guardians are able to solve their problems and change the negative situation the family is facing. Sadly, for the boy's so many times this does not happen and the parental rights are terminated, and each child suffers because of it. With parental termination comes multiple placements. Each placement erodes self confidence and the children eventually lose hope. Hope may be the most important emotion someone can have, or lose

 

Aaron, we will call him, came to the Boys Home at age 14 with a smile on his face. He had been in several placements and thus carried emotional scars from his past. However, without question, he had "HOPE" and was looking towards the future. At this time the parental rights were still active and much of his "HOPE" was that his mother could get everything in order so that he could return to her in the near future. Sadly, over the course of the next 8-9 months this did not come to fruition, the parent lost her rights, thus putting Aaron officially up for adoption. It is very much a reality that teenage boy's are difficult to adopt. This through no fault of their own, but because many families are looking for younger children to blend into their own families. To be perfectly honest, it is sometimes difficult to handle your own biological teenagers, much less someone that you're not familiar with. Over the course of the next few months, Aarons emotions, both good and bad, had their time. This is very normal and common as it is with other teenage boy's.

 

Aaron is an exceptional athlete and loved to play football and basketball. He had arrived too late to start football but made the basketball team and while the obvious exercise was beneficial the extracurricular activity was just what Aaron needed to be focused and happy. Honestly, his first year on the basketball team was a struggle, not knowing the plays or even teammates and his frustration was written all over his face. Being the competitor that he is, not getting enough playing time motivated his and he worked hard all summer on basketball. All of his hard work paid off earning a starting job, on a very successful 9th grade team! It must also be noted that coaches, teachers and the principal acknowledged his good play and what a outstanding young man Aaron was both on and off the court.

 

While Aaron was happy about his success, something was just not right and we all knew what the problem was. Like most young men, Aaron, wanted and needed a place to call home and a family that supported and loved him. Most of all, he wanted to belong.

 

Aaron worked hard in school and his behavior was seldom a question. He became a leader among the other young men at the Boys Home. One and a half years after arriving at the Boys Home, a family inquired about adoption. Over the course of the next few weeks both the family and Aaron got to spend some time together. The adoption is now moving forward and a trial placement with begin in early April

 

I am not sure what, if any, our role was in the adoption, but I do know that keeping this young man safe, making sure he attended school, and trying our best to motivate him in a positive direction, helped put him in a good place emotionally ready when opportunity knocked, which it did! The parents are both teachers and have 2 teenage sons. Aaron will have his hands full and be very busy. He will have a nice, safe place to call home and a family that loves him. Importantly, he will know he belongs.

 

 

Our Location

Fort Smith Boys Home
5904 South Zero
Fort Smith, AR 72903
(479) 646-2819

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