By Brett Ashley Hawkins
Inside the lonely building at 350 W. Wardlow Rd., chairs are staggered at various lengths along the side of a table as if people had gotten up from them not too long ago. A ping-pong table rests in the corner of a recreation room with its ball on top, held in place by a leaning paddle. Notices are posted to a bulletin board on the wall stating household duties and paperwork.
To the unknowing visitor of the now-for-sale Boys Town emergency residential shelter, it appears as if the occupants departed the building only recently. However, the shelter closed three years ago, and the home has since sat untouched, until recently being put on the market.
The Nebraska-based organization created by Father Flanagan dedicated the Long Beach Boys Town emergency residential care center in 1993 to provide care for as many as 16 abandoned, abused, neglected, or runaway children at one time, and as many as 325 per year. Lawrence Burton, a 13-year Boys Town employee who had also been a professional football player and US Olympian, was the coordinator of the facility.
“Our strategic plan is to serve more children and families within our integrated continuum of care,” said Kara Neuverth, director of Media Relations for Boys Town. “We will continue to have a presence in the community, but by closing the Long Beach shelter three years ago, we have been able to shift from shelter care to preventative services, which is more in line with what our research shows is best for kids.”
The closest Boys Town facility now is located at 2740 N. Grand Ave. in Santa Ana. Since its opening in 1991, the center owns five treatment family homes: three for adolescents and two for young children on 80 acres in Trabuco Canyon in Orange County. In addition, Boys Town provides in-home family services as well as child and family support services.