One of the most valuable resources at Boys Home is the staff. The Boys Home mission comes full circle when men who were residents in their youth return to “pay it forward” for the boys who live here now. Only they can uniquely relate to the challenges and struggles the students face.
Administratively, the most well-known of the group is Executive Director Donnie Wheatley. Mr. Wheatley has led the way through capital campaigns, the creation of Boys Home School and the applied trades program and has become the resident expert on Boys Home’s history. It’s a big responsibility, but he always has time to say hello or share a piece of advice with the boys. Chad Whitmer, associate director of program, builds relationships with each boy and helps them develop leadership skills. On many weekends, he can be found leading a group of students through mountain passes on camping trips and teaching them life skills. Bobby Trice serves as director of support services and joined the staff in 2017 when he retired from the Army as a Master Sergeant after 20 years of service. Although Bobby’s full-time job keeps him busy seeing that the campus infrastructure is running smoothly, he makes it a point to know the students and spends time with them. He is also willing to come to your area and share his story about how Boys Home has made a difference in his life.
Danny Cale is the facility maintenance manager. Danny is a skilled organizer with his team and applies that same efficiency when teaching his home wiring class to students. Check out the December 20 post to the News section of the boyshomeofva.org website to see how this hands-on class causes students to begin to think like business owners. Rick Turner came to Boys Home after selling a successful heating and air-conditioning business. He teaches those same skills to students, also keeping busy with maintenance projects on campus. It’s also possible to catch Rick in a snappy Santa Claus outfit at the Boys Home Christmas Tree Farm!
None of Boys Home’s programming would be possible without houseparents. After graduation from college, Donnie Costigan and Milliyon Fesseha found their way back to Boys Home to share their experience and wisdom. Their influence for good in the lives of the boys is inspiring. David Powers also returned to Boys Home and worked on the farm. He has recently accepted a position in law enforcement, and we wish him all the best in that new endeavor.
Lastly, Mike Nunnally became the Hilltopper’s basketball coach in 2018. A retired teacher and coach, he now impacts both players and spectators with his professionalism, work ethic, fairness, and general good humor. He excels at not only building basketball skills but at building character in team members.
The presence of these men on campus demonstrates the success of the mission of Boys Home. They bring depth and a breadth of experience that is invaluable as we offer today’s students a second chance at success.
Left to right first row: Donnie Wheatley, Bobby Trice, Milliyon Fesseha
Second row: David Powers, Rick Turner
Third row: Mike Nunnally, Chad Whitmer, Danny Cale, Donnie Costigan
Boys Home held the drawing for our annual Quilt Raffle on Friday, June 5th. Congratulations to Ms. Beckie Mullen of Pensacola, Florida! She has won a beautiful quilt with a “Walk About” pattern by Anne Lauer for Grizzly Gulch Gallery. It measures 84″ x 105″ and fits a queen sized bed.
Thank you to Ms. Phyllis Gibson, sister of our executive director Donnie Wheatley, who made and donated the quilt. Also, a special thank you to everyone that purchased tickets, sold tickets or helped us get the word out.
We are very blessed to have made a total of $5,000.00, which is above and beyond our expectations! All proceeds will help pay for education, housing, and basic living expenses for the young men in our care. Thank you to all! Together, we can give each student at Boys Home a second chance at success.
Left to right: Director of Support Services Bobby Trice, Student Jude, Director of Program Chad Whitmer
Boys Home of Virginia hosted their graduation ceremony coupled with senior awards on April 29, 2020 in the All Saints’ Chapel at Boys Home. The 2020 graduates were Christian Bass, Carlos Brown, Khean Mikkelson, Andrew Roland, Phillip Scott, and John Smith. Phillip Scott and John Smith were not present for the graduation ceremony but were recognized.
During their time at Boys Home, each of the graduates took advantage of many of the activities Boys Home offers. All showed dedication to their community by serving in the Boys Home Key Club, with Carlos Brown serving as the president. Christian, Carlos, Khean, and John took on additional leadership roles as Boys Home Ambassadors. Carlos was also captain of the Hilltoppers basketball team this past year alongside his teammate Christian, and John Smith participated during the 2018-2019 season. Khean and Andrew enjoyed sports as well; Khean took part in the Martial Arts Club, and Andrew played on the Boys Home soccer team. Phillip was part of the Alleghany Highlands Regional Book Club.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the graduation itself could only accommodate up to 10 individuals. During the ceremony, staff members and underclassmen socially distanced themselves across the soccer and adjoining fields. When the graduates filed out of the chapel, they were surprised by cheers, cowbells, and words of encouragement from an enthusiastic group of supporters!
Graduation began with the seniors, Executive Director Mr. Donnie E. Wheatley, and Boys Home School Director Mrs. Teresa Johnson entering during the processional. The Boys Home Honor Code and Pledge of Allegiance were recited followed by the invocation. Mr. Robert Trice, Boys Home alumnus and Director of Support Services, read a prayer written by Megan Dern, Youth Missioner for the Diocese of Southern Virginia. Robert Trice then welcomed everyone.
The senior awards ceremony followed. This gives Boys Home the chance to recognize all the accomplishments of the students over the past year. Accomplishments from both on and off campus are highlighted with awards ranging from school performance to community service. Many named awards and scholarships reward the students for the hard work they put forth while at Boys Home.
The awards began with the “Love Gift” from the Episcopal Church Women of Southern Virginia and the Women of St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church. A gift was given to each senior.
A Boys Home scholarship was established in 2016 by Stephen and Donna Vaughn and Anne Dean to help support Boys Home students each year who decide to make Dabney S. Lancaster Community College their school of choice. The recipients of this scholarship were Khean Mikkelson and Andrew Roland.
The Leadership-in-Action Award was presented to the senior who maintained excellent leadership skills during the two-day senior challenge. Christian Bass was the recipient of that award.
The 1st Lt. Joshua Charles Hurley Memorial Award is awarded to the student who leaves a great impact. On November 1, 2003, Hurley lost his life while serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Hurley loved his family, life, friends, and serving his country. The recipient of this award was Christian Bass.
The Joseph D. and Hilda C. Dent Memorial Award is given in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Dent who were longtime supporters of Boys Home and who had a keen interest in education. Andrew Roland won this award.
The Bill and Lang Wilson Scholarship Award was established to recognize the importance of a “helping hand” in critical junctions of one’s life. It also helps promote further education for a graduating senior while supporting Dabney S. Lancaster Community College’s mission. The award and scholarship was presented to senior Khean Mikkelson.
The Matthew Foster Honorary Scholarship is given in honor of alumnus Matt Foster. He overcame many obstacles during his time as a student and grew from a rebellious teen to a self-confident young man who turned two years of high school into one to graduate on time. The winner of this award and scholarship was Christian Bass.
The Paul Siple Memorial Scholarship is given in honor of Paul Siple, past coach and Interim Director at Boys Home. This award was presented to Andrew Roland.
The Barry D. Mays Memorial Award is presented to a senior who is living in the experiential living apartment and shows the desire and ability to learn and perform skills of self-sufficiency. The recipient of this award was Andrew Roland.
The Sam Cunningham Award is given to a Boys Home student participating in athletics with a high level of dedication and a positive attitude. The winner of this award was Christian Bass.
The Madeline S. Mumford Memorial Scholarship is provided through St. John’s Episcopal Church in Chester, VA. The scholarship is to assist one or more young men who are pursuing higher education. The winners of this scholarship were Khean Mikkelson and Andrew Roland.
The Berlin and Frances Lineberry Scholarship provides funding for a graduating senior who is pursuing higher education at a vocational or community college. The scholarship was awarded to Andrew Roland.
The final award is among the highest honors for a Boys Home student. The Michael Folland Award is given to a senior and voted on by their peers. This award winner shows his peers that he took advantage of his time at Boys Home by working to reach his full potential. The Michael Folland award was presented to senior Carlos Brown.
Each graduate addressed the audience, expressed their appreciation for Boys Home, and talked about their plans for the future. Carlos will begin working a summer job remodeling homes, then hopes to find a job in construction work. Christian wants to join the military but has not completely decided what branch. Khean will attend Dabney S. Lancaster Community College and study cyber security. Andrew will attend Dabney S. Lancaster Community College for general studies, then transfer to Virginia Tech and study meteorology. Phillip wants to pursue a pipefitting apprenticeship in his hometown. After graduation, John wants to work and save money for college.
Mr. David Harrison was the guest speaker. He is originally from Buena Vista, VA, and was a resident at Boys Home from 1987 until his graduation from Alleghany High School in 1991. He attended East Tennessee State University and graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice. He later jointed the United States Army as a Combat Medic and now works as a Certified Peer Counselor at the Mountain Home Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Tennessee where he helps veterans cope with mental health disorders. David spoke about the importance of personal responsibility and understanding that we cannot control everything that happens in life, but we can control how we respond.
Director of the Boys Home School Mrs. Teresa Johnson and Boys Home Executive Director Mr. Donnie Wheatley then presented diplomas.
Congratulations to the seniors, and thank you to everyone who continues to make success a possibility for these students. Boys Home of Virginia is proud of the accomplishments of all of the students, especially the graduating seniors, and wish them well in their future endeavors!
Left to right: Carlos Brown, Christian Bass, Andrew Roland, Executive Director Donnie Wheatley, and Khean Mikkelson
#GivingTuesdayNow is a new global day of giving and unity as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. At a time when we are all experiencing the pandemic, generosity is what brings people of all races, faiths and political views together across the globe.
In an effort to keep everyone safe and healthy, we have had to adapt to a new way of life here on campus. As we continue to provide the children with everything they need to succeed and live as normally as possible, our expenses have remained the same and even broadened. Unfortunately, we have had to cancel or postpone several on campus visits and fundraising events this spring. On this day of global giving, we ask that you help us navigate through these changes by donating to Boys Home of Virginia online (click here) or give Melinda a call at 540-965-7707.
Thank you in advance for your generosity during these uncertain times and your continued support of Boys Home. We greatly appreciate it.