Tuesday, August 24, 1999

Home last chance for troubled youth

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COLD SPRING — Campbell Lodge Boys' Home has been helping preteen and teen-age boys put their lives back together for more than 40 years. Every once in a while, one of the boys returns to say thanks.

        Just last week, a man knocked on the door of Executive Director Michael Schroth and explained that he had lived at the home from 1964 to 1968, coming there at the age of 13 after being physically abused.

        “He lives in Pennsylvania now and he was returning from a trip with his two sons,” Mr. Schroth said. “He wanted to show his boys where he had lived from 13 to 17. He was a little misty-eyed as he walked around. He said the lodge made a big difference in his life.”

        Campbell Lodge Boys' Home was founded by the Rev. Ray Nieman in 1958 as a refuge for boys ages 10-18 who were experiencing emotional or behavioral problems, were in danger of being incarcerated or were abused at home. Father Nieman served as a juvenile court chaplain in several Northern Kentucky juvenile systems.

        Since receiving approval and funding from then-Bishop William Mulloy of the Diocese of Covington on Oct. 14, 1958, Mr. Schroth said the lodge has helped hundreds of youths to finish high school and encourage them to make the most of their lives.

        The facility began with a large house that overlooks the Ohio River and the Ohio hills of Anderson Township, built in the 1850s and once the home of famed local artist Henry Farney.

        Over the years, structures have been added on the 90-acre tract including three 12-unit living quarters, a meeting hall and a recreation building.

        Mr. Schroth said a number of former lodge residents maintain contact and donate regularly to help finance the home's work.

        “There is a man who now lives in Florida and owns a construction company,” he said. “We've had groups of six boys go to his beach home for a vacation. And he's very active in helping the lodge financially. He also feels his stay here changed his life.”

        Boys are referred to the Campbell Lodge Boys' Home from juvenile courts in Northern Kentucky, as well as social agencies and other child protective services, and by families. During the school year, the boys attend public schools in Campbell County.

        Mr. Schroth said the average stay for a boy is 12-18 months. “We insist on a commitment from the boy's family of 12 months,” he said. “We don't feel we can accomplish anything if we don't have time to work with the boys, to make this feel like a home and something they can count on.”

        Mr. Schroth, an Edgewood native and University of Kentucky graduate who was executive director of the Family Nurturing Center of Northern Kentucky, said his own vision for the Boys' Home is to increase the involvement of the families.

        “We want the boys to be able to relate to the staff, but we also want the family to have someone on site they can relate to,” he said. “The idea of the home is to help the boys return to a normal life. We need as much involvement from the families as possible.”


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