In 1947, Rev. Michael Campagna saw a need to care for vulnerable youths.
He established Hoosier Boys’ Town and worked toward a mission of restoring hope and building dreams among the Region’s at-risk youth. The mission continues to this day.
“He wanted to have a home for orphans and for children that needed families,” said Elena Dwyre, CEO of Campagna Academy, to which the facility was renamed in 2001. “He purchased this land in Schererville and with support from the community was able to start this program specifically for boys.”
As programs expanded to serve girls and a charter school opened, the name was changed.
“We’re celebrating 75 years in 2022 and when we think of the mission, it hasn’t changed,” said Dwyre. "We still work in providing very needed services to children and youths. We’ve been very successful in assessing the needs of the community.”
Though the charter school is gone, Campagna Academy provides a number of services as a residential treatment center and foster care agency that also offers community-based programming. More than 100 boys and girls reside on the campus. The site is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that is fully-licensed and accredited by the Council on Accreditation and Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities..
Residential intensive treatment is available with a team of medical professionals that include a psychiatrist and psychologist. Programs include Intellectual/Development Disabilities, Residential, Open Residential, Secure Residential, Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility, Diagnostic & Evaluation Program, Substance Abuse Treatment Program, Therapeutic Foster Care and After Care Service. There is also a Day Reporting Program for extra support with licensed teachers. Emergency Shelter Care enables staff to take in victims of abuse or sex trafficking until a long-term situation is secured.
Campagna Academy continues to work with families for six months in the community after being in a residential program. Being engaged with the family is also an important component, said Dwyre. “We work to make sure families stay together. There’s a lot of work with not just the child, but the family, as well.”
Facilities such as Campagna Academy are crucial because “mental health needs more and more attention," said Dwyre. "It is critical for the well being of us all, especially children.”
Time spent at Campagna Academy isn’t merely about managing crises and survival. Youths are given tools to explore, grow and thrive.
“Every year our kids participate in what we call the Getting Strong and Giving Back Event. This event is planned and run by our Student Youth Council Members,” said Beth Szamatowicz, director of development. “Every year our kids select a local nonprofit to benefit from this event. Our kids host an event to raise funds to be donated directly to the organization or do a project that directly impacts the organization.This year our kids selected Phil’s Friends, a local nonprofit that makes and delivers care packages to people undergoing chemo and radiation treatment for cancer. Our kids created handmade no-sew blankets that were included in their care packages and made hundreds of cards that will be included in their care packages and mailed directly to their clients undergoing treatment. This event is 100% planned and driven by our kids. Our kids receive so many wonderful things and support from our community.”
To accomplish this, Campagna Academy has a staff of close to 250, a board of two dozen community members and a huge number of volunteers that help maintain the grounds, wrap holiday gifts, bake treats for the children and more. “We have 47 acres and we rely heavily on volunteers for grading, painting and other things. We need different talents and we’ll take it all,” said Dwyre.
The current staffing issues in the service industry and beyond also have affected places like Campagna Academy. “This past year with the workforce crisis we’ve been unable to treat as many as we normally would. We simply can’t find enough staff,” said Dwyre. “Unfortunately, for us, we can’t just close our doors early or not worry about who is providing care. Safety is always a priority. The demand is there. There’s a wait list for services. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to hire the talent that we need to keep up with demand.”
For more information on supporting Campagna Academy or joining their team, visit CampagnaAcademy.org or all 219-322.8614.