Left: Volunteers looking at the former Boys Town Right: Volunteers planting new plants in front of one of the homes. (Bella Colby/Lariat)
If you need volunteer hours or just enjoy supporting the community, this is for you.
Boys Town was an 80-acre community for troubled kids in Trabuco Canyon. After Boys Town was shut down in the summer of 2017, Stone Building Corporation coughed up the money (the price tag was $7 million but the price he paid is unknown) and took control of the land. President Gregg Stone set apart twelve of the eighty acres and allowed 28 charities to place bids on the land. Colette’s Children’s Home and Grandma’s House of Hope were just some of the philanthropies to bid, but on Tuesday, Dec. 4 it was revealed that Lauri Burns, the founder of The Teen Project, had won.
“I was a foster kid myself and now I am a foster mom,” says Burns. “When I found out how many kids are living in foster care and have been victims of human trafficking right here in Orange County I knew I had to help.”
Burns ran from multiple group-homes and sold her body for heroin on the streets. After a night of nearly being beaten to death, she turned her life around and devoted it to helping girls who’s young lives mirror that of her own.
The land will be renamed to Vera’s Sanctuary. Who is Vera? Vera died of cancer and left her son millions. He was the mystery donor who ended up wiring $1 million to Burns which she used to secure the property.
“We have been out here every Saturday doing whatever odd jobs Lauri has for us,” says Ellie Schofield, a 16-year-old volunteer. “We come, check the list, and get to work.”
Once The Teen Project secured the land, OC citizens rushed to help out. Bob’s discount furniture donated bedroom sets for all thirty bedrooms for the 15 to 21 year old girls who will be moving in. Living Space donated sofas, couches, and chairs while Dunn Edwards contributed 80 gallons of paint. Citizens have painted, pulled weeds, planted and even tiled roofs. One day a water pipe burst and a volunteer spent the entire day fixing it. Carpets have been ripped out, boxes have been hoisted and now the project is almost complete.
“We are hopeful that in the next two weeks the girls will be moving in,” says Burns. “We are just waiting on the fire inspection.”
Just because the work is almost done does not mean the volunteer opportunities are.
“We need volunteers to teach the girls sewing, budgeting, and cooking,” says Burns. “A lot of them do not know math. We need tutors to help them with their schoolwork. I will be overseeing the community and I need extra hands.”
Click here to schedule volunteer hours.