Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the year in which the original Boys Town was founded in Omaha. It was 1917, not 1971. This version has been corrected.
The 12-acre campus of Boys Town Washington D.C. received a much-needed face-lift Saturday as a platoon of church volunteers spent much of the day spreading soil, planting flowers and meeting residents of the facility, which houses young people who’ve been in trouble with the law.
Led by their pastor, the Rev. Joel Peebles, congregants from Jericho City of Praise descended Saturday morning on the campus in Northeast.
Since opening in the District in 1993, Boys Town has provided homes and services to more than 6,200 local at-risk youths. A national organization, Boys Town began in 1917 in Omaha, where it was founded by the Rev. Edward Flanagan.
The church’s beautification effort Saturday is part of a much larger project to build additional facilities on the Northeast campus and to find foster homes for the residents.
“Our ministry has the objective to provide up to 150 foster-care homes to young men who need a new lease on life and have a strong family unit,” said Peebles, adding that his mega church decided to “adopt” Boys Town Washington D.C. because, “we wanted to partner with . . . something that works.”
One Jericho member at Boys Town on Saturday was Raymond Morse, owner of Aquatic Design Landscapes, who was in charge of turning the scruffy patch around the Boys Town basketball courts into a well-manicured park.
“I had a vision. I wanted to do something to bring some joy to the people here,” said Morse, who pointed to one of the residential facilities where a young man lived before being killed during a visit home. “In another phase we plan to put in a memorial garden for the young man who died.”
Jeff Patterson, executive director of Boys Town Washington D.C., said Boys Town has always had a spiritual component. “Faith is a big part of getting our kids better,” he said. “They can’t do that without faith, and we are so happy with the relationship we have with the Jericho City of Praise.”