100 Years of Life Changing Journeys – Michael’s Story

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Omaha Home for Boys is celebrating 100 years of service in 2020! Throughout the year we’ll be introducing you to some current and former OHB youth who have so greatly benefited from the generosity of supporters like you. 

The following account was written by Michael Hooper who lived at Omaha Home for Boys from February 1980 to May 1981. Although Michael’s time at OHB was fairly short, he credits Omaha Home for Boys with teaching him many of the skills that have made him successful today.

Michael Hooper’s high school graduation photo.

I was a mixed-up kid in Iowa, with a curiosity for experimenting with drugs, rock ‘n’ roll and partying. At age 16, I was picked up by a police officer as a runaway.

“Do you want me to go easy or hard?” he asked, showing me handcuffs.

“Easy,” I said.

The police officer drove me to the Christian Home in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where I lived for a month before being placed at Omaha Home for Boys on Feb. 7, 1980. There I moved into OHB’s Cooper Memorial Farm where 12 boys lived with house parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lash. Their rules were simple: Go to school, do your homework, get your chores done, clean your room and take a shower. You could earn $20 per week and the opportunity to go out on Friday and Saturday nights, but if you got in trouble, you lost your privileges.

Determined to be successful, I followed the rules. At the farm, we got up at 6 a.m., put on work clothes and went outside to feed chickens, hogs, cattle and horses. Then we were off to school. After school, we would feed the animals again and sometimes there was time to work with my calf for 4-H or go for a ride on a horse.

In Omaha, I spent less time with stoners and more time with teachers and good students. I discovered I was a pretty good student when I applied myself. At OHB I connected with book readers and studious people.

I graduated from Omaha Benson in May 1981 and left Omaha Home for Boys on May 22, 1981. I went on to earn an associate’s degree in architectural drafting from Central Community College and then completed my bachelor’s in journalism in 1987 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Michael Hooper today with his family (L to R) son Reid, wife Heather, Michael, and daughter Hannah

After  graduation, I worked 20 years as a reporter for newspapers in Nebraska and Kansas. I have had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout Europe and North America. Today, I work as a freelance writer, investor and volunteer and am married to my wife, Heather. We have two grown children, Reid and Hannah. I continue to be a supporter of Omaha Home for Boys because what Omaha Home for Boys gave to me is priceless.

Omaha Home for Boys provided a structure in which it was possible for me to change and create healthy ways to live. I received a scholarship from Ted and Ida Huston, patrons of OHB. That scholarship paid for my tuition.

I remember when my parents came to visit me in the mid 2000s, my dad said, “You have really set yourself up pretty good here.” He said that I was lucky to have gone to Omaha Home for Boys because I was able to turn my life around. I agree, I was lucky then, and I still feel lucky today.

Invest in their Futures

As you can see from Michael’s story, your support of Omaha Home for Boys is truly an investment in the futures of the youth we’re serving today. What can you give to help our youth have the same positive outcome that Michael has enjoyed? We need you!

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