WOOSTER, Ohio — When Reverend Clarence Kerr of Smithville Methodist Church watched the movie Boys’ Town and was inspired to open a home for ‘troubled boys’ 75 years ago, he couldn’t have imagined that thousands of childrens’ lives throughout the state of Ohio would be touched by his dream.
But that’s exactly what happened after Reverend Kerr gained community support and transformed a farmhouse on 46 acres of land just outside of Wooster into a safe haven for traumatized youth. Formally incorporated on May 7, 1946, Governor Frank J. Lausche personally presented the state charter to Boys’ Village, one of the first residential treatment facilities of its kind in the eastern United States. Rev. Kerr and local civic leaders raised $15,000 to open Boys’ Village, where ten young boys were enrolled that September.
Now known as The Village Network, today the nonprofit serves an average of 7,000 youth and families annually in 20 locations and in over 90 schools in Ohio and West Virginia. It’s one of the top employers in Wayne County and a flagship site of the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics.
“Because of the dedication of our amazing staff, community partners and donors, we’ve come a long way since that farmhouse 75 years ago,” says Richard Graziano, President and CEO of The Village Network. “It is my hope that Reverend Kerr would be proud of how we have honored his legacy and carried on the tradition of caring for the youth who need us the most.”
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Village Network will not be hosting a large community celebration. Instead, they will incorporate the anniversary into each of their annual events including their Charity Golf Classic and Sweet Jubilation fundraisers.
The Village Network also plans to commemorate their anniversary throughout the year with different initiatives and success stories of the youth they have served. To celebrate 75 years with The Village Network, stay tuned to their website at thevillagenetwork.org, follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/tvillagenetwork or on Twitter @TVillagenetwork.
“I’m excited to think about what our next 75 years is going to bring and how The Village Network will continue to create brighter futures across Ohio, West Virginia and beyond,” adds Graziano.