Friday, June 29, 2001, Vol. 115, No. 124

Barret Trust gives $2 Barret Trust gives $2.5 million gift for troubled youth By MARY DANDO The Daily News Bartlett banker, Paul W. Barret Jr. continues his largess to the community even after his death. Officials with the Barret Trust recently gave a gift of $2.5 million to Youth Villages, which will go toward construction of a new school on the Memphis Boys Town campus. "This is the largest single gift that Youth Villages has ever received," said Patrick W. Lawler, administrator of the Memphis-based nonprofit youth organization. "It will allow us to do more to help children learn to live successfully." The school, which will be named for Barret, is part of an $11.7 million expansion at the Memphis Boys Town campus in Bartlett. The school and a new residential center for children and youth will overlook the lake on the 82-acre campus. Youth Villages' supporters have raised $10 million to offset construction costs. "The school is a dream come true for us. It is specifically designed to be an optimum learning environment for children who face challenges in traditional educational settings," Lawler said. Founded in Memphis in 1986, Youth Villages is a private, nonprofit organization providing a host of programs and services, including residential treatment, home-based counseling, therapeutic foster care, adoption and outpatient psychiatric services to more than 2,000 children and their families each year in Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas. The organization was recently cited in a study by the American Youth Policy Forum as one of the most successful programs helping troubled children in the nation. Memphis Boys Town is a residential campus for boys and girls ages 7 to 19. Although the residence has a capacity for about 100, Lee Rone, Youth Villages regional director, said the average number of youngsters in residence is 80 to 85. Rone, with Youth Villages for the past nine years, has been instrumental in implementing the Multisystemic Therapy approach for which Youth Villages has received such acclaim. "The new school will have a great deal more space than we have now, it will also more closely replicate the normal public school. This should help the kids make a better transition back to the community," he said. Young people at Boys Town usually have emotional and behavioral problems and are referred there because of problems in the family and at home. "We understand family problems are common and we also understand the family is the solution. In every case, our goal is that the young people return home to their families and be successful and in the long run help the family be successful also," he said. Youth Villages has about an 80 percent success rate of young people returning to the family and not returning to care, Rone said. That compares to about a 30 percent success rate in other organizations in this field. "While the kids are here, we try to teach them to cope with problems in effective ways, basically how to communicate with people, how to resolve their problems without getting into arguments and fights and how to cope with their anger," he said. The program at Boys Town also includes family therapy to help the families resolve their problems in a consistent and structured way that doesnt lead to greater problems, he said. "There is definitely a message of hope in this. For many decades, there was no clinical research to demonstrate that any treatment program for the most seriously troubled adolescents had long-term, positive effects. In the last 10 years or so the MST model has been the first program in this population thats been able to show it has been effective over the long-term by which I mean several years," he said. With the MST approach, the goal is always to work with the family and provide treatment on an intensive level in the home, Rone said. "Tennessee really has been a leader in the nation in this field. By the Barret Trust providing this kind of a gift, theyre helping us to have a large impact on the community," Rone said. The Barret Trust fund is the gift that keeps on giving. At his death in December 1999, Barret, chairman of Barretville Bank and Trust, left an estimated $75 million charitable trust. The trusts first major gift was $35 million to Rhodes College for the construction of a new library. Anne Coggin, Memphis Boys Town school principal, said she was overwhelmed by the $2.5 million gift. Coggin, who started her career as an English teacher, has been with Youth Villages 11 years, the last four as principal at Memphis Boys Town. "The new school will quite simply change the lives of our children. "It gives them the right environment for academic success. Education is the key for every child the key to having a successful, productive life." Construction of the Paul W. Barret Jr. School has already begun. More than 100 students from Boys Town and Youth Villages other programs will attend classes there in the fall 2002.