Stories

putting faces on the work we do

The long history of Boys Home is rich with stories of boys who found themselves here, and went on to live productive, successful, happy lives.  We’re proud of that tradition, and here we’ll share some of what our students and alumni have to say about their experience.  And we’ll also tell you more about the values young men learn here along the way.

We have a century’s worth of touching anecdotes about everyday life at Boys Home, the things these young men discovered about themselves, and the successes they went on to accomplish.  Below is just a sampling of their stories.

This is the story about a boy named Ermias

Ermias is an 18 year old from Maryland. He originally came to this country through an international adoption. His adoptive family sought the services of Boys Home after Ermias had issues with his current family situation.

Ermias was been a resident for 3 years and was selected as President of the Boys Home Resident Council. He initially was enrolled in the Boys Home School for remediation and then attended the local high school. He graduated in 2013.

Ermias has many interests and talents, particularly art, music and video. His artwork was selected for the 2011 Boys Home Christmas card and he has received recognition in local art contests. Ermias is interested in a possible vocation in music production though his future plans are sketchy.

This is a story about a boy named Donald

Donald arrived at Boys Home at a young age. Withdrawn and quiet, Donald found a place where he would be safe and nurtured. Originally from the Richmond area, Donald liked the Alleghany Highlands and flourished in the residential environment.

Donald particularly liked sports, art and scouts. He excelled in basketball and played on area  recreation and school teams. He became a Life Scout prior to his graduation and attended Bluefield College. After receiving a degree in Criminal Justice, Donald worked in regional juvenile detention centers.

Currently, Donald is a valued Boys Home staff member and houseparent in the older boys cottage. His calm demeanor and “I’ve been there, you can do it” approach helps young men in his charge find their own way to set goals and excel.

Donald is married and has 1 son and 2 step children.

This is a story about a boy named Jerimia

After several attempts to find a suitable foster home for him, Jerimia came to Boys Home at the age of eleven. His CASA worker initiated the placement at Boys Home where she thought he would receive the support, care and structure that he needed. It wasn’t until years later that this woman’s vision for Jerimia became a reality.

As a young child, Jerimia had been in charge of caring for his younger siblings and making his own decisions – he was a defiant, stubborn teenager that taxed the patience of many staff members at Boys Home.

As he matured, he found achievement in art, scouts and sports, later becoming an Eagle Scout from Troop 66 at Boys Home. He held an off- campus job, graduated from high school and became a responsible, dependable citizen.

After graduation, in 2001, he joined the U.S. Army as a truck driver. He remains in the armed forces today in movement control, currently on his 5th deployment to the Middle East. J.F. maintains contact with his biological family, but he is also a close member of the Boys Home family. Jerimia is married and has a young daughter.

This is a story about a boy named Larry

Larry arrived at Boys Home at the young age of 6. Small in stature, Larry was a favorite of the housemothers. He soon learned that studying was necessary for a good education. A resident of Boys Home for 12 years, Larry participated in the baseball and basketball sports program. His shining star, however, was earning the first Eagle Scout award for the Boys Home Troop 6, with 35 merit badges.

All of the studying and hard work paid off, as he graduated from VMI in 1955, majoring in English.  He was the co-founder of the Boys Home Alumni Association and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998 as a charter member. Larry was recognized for his significant accomplishments since leaving Boys Home.

Larry retired as Senior Vice President for Bank One Corporation. He resides in Kentucky, is an experienced golfer and has been a frequent visitor and motivational speaker at Boys Home.

This is a story about a boy named Walter

Walter did not come to Boys Home by himself – he came here with his 2 brothers. Having his brothers also at Boys Home made the transition to  residential living  a little easier. Walter was a good student and, after leaving Boys Home, graduated from high school.

Inspired to continue his education, Walter attended college and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Virginia and a Master of Divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary.  He was ordained to the priesthood and served several parishes in Maryland and New Jersey.

Walter earned a Doctor of Ministry from Drew University. Although officially retired, he currently donates his expertise in assisting at a local parish, sharing worship duties, serving on the pastoral care committee and overseeing grief ministries. His wife is a real estate agent. They have three grown children and ten grandchildren.

This is a story about a boy named Donnie

In 1959, Donnie Wheatley arrived at Boys Home, twelve years old and a ward of the state. At first, his discontentment with Boys Home and his desire to return to his family led to several attempts to run away. Once Donnie decided to give Boys Home a try, he participated in sports, student government and campus jobs.

When encouraged by staff, Donnie entered Virginia Military Institute in 1966 on a State Cadetship, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. After working on a Master of Science degree from Virginia Tech, Wheatley spent three years on active duty in the United States Marine Corps, attaining the rank of Captain.  With a Master’s in Business Administration from Valdosta State College in Georgia and courses toward a Master’s in Education at Georgia State University, he enjoyed success and respect in his early career as a professional engineer.

In 1985, Wheatley returned to Boys Home as Executive Director.  During his tenure new buildings have been constructed, major renovations completed and new programs added—all in service to improving better opportunities for at-risk children and to ensure that no child is turned away due to his family’s inability to pay.

Donnie’s willingness to share his faith and vulnerability has enabled hundreds of young men to break cycles of despair and neglect to become productive citizens and emotionally healthy husbands and fathers.

This is the story of a boy named Chad

I arrived in April 1999, with a trash bag full of filthy clothes and no recollection as to how long I would remain at Boys Home. My probation officer said I would spend 30 days being evaluated and then released to go home; however, this was not the outcome because I would remain at Boys Home until I graduated in 2004.

While at Boys Home I was provided with an opportunity to focus my time towards academics, boy scouts, basketball, and activities at school. At home, I was unable to focus on academics because there was no structure or any accountability for my poor decision making. The structure and support Boys Home provided helped me gain the respect of my peers and adults, attain the Eagle Scout rank and fill various leadership roles in clubs at school. Once I entered 9th grade, I was determined to earn the honor roll. I graduated in 2004 with an advanced diploma and, upon graduation, joined the military as a means to pay for college.

I attended Basic Training at Fort Benning, Georgia, then started my first semester at Liberty University. I completed my first two years as a resident student and was called for my first tour of duty. Before leaving the country, I decided to marry Laura Bird. After spending time overseas, I determined to give something back to the place that gave me so much, so I returned to Boys Home. I finished my bachelor’s degree in Psychology, right before deploying for my second tour of duty in Iraq.

While in Iraq, I gained insight into the plight of children which intensified my zeal for helping children. I brought this passion and augmented way of thinking back to Boys Home with the drive and determination to meet the needs of boys like me. Since returning from Iraq, Laura and I had a little girl, Savannah and a son, David.

Currently I am working as Assistant Intake and Evaluation Manager at the Wheatley Center at Boys Home and I have a couple of courses left before I earn my Masters in Business Administration with a specialization in Project Management. My role is to work within a team environment to assess and evaluate young men to ultimately determine their needs and if Boys Home is the appropriate placement. This enables me to work towards my ultimate goal, which is to serve each young man that comes through Boys Home as if it were me.