Former Boys Village Resident Succeeds
Vinh (Nguyen) Alexander, local Lake Charles photographer and commercial artist, lived at Boys Village from 1981-1984. His childhood journey on the way to Boys Village reads like a tragic history lesson. Vinh was born in 1968 near Saigon during the Vietnam War. When he was seven years old, he and his father, brother Johnny, an uncle, aunt and cousins escaped the country in a small fishing boat. His mother stayed behind to try and persuade Vinh’s grandmother to evacuate also, assuring her family that they’d be on a boat behind them, but they never made it. Adrift in the Pacific Ocean in the midst of a typhoon, Vinh and his family were rescued by an American cargo ship. Upon arriving in America, Vinh’s father was diagnosed with tuberculosis. After spending some time in California, the Nguyen family moved to Lake Charles. Five years later, Vinh’s father died of TB. It was at that time that Vinh’s mother attempted to come to America, but she died during the voyage. Vinh and Johnny, now orphans, lived for a while with their aunt and uncle, but this proved to be difficult. They decided that the brothers would live at Boys Village. Later on in high school, a family in Sulphur adopted Vinh and Johnny.
“Living at Boys Village was a changing point in my life,” says Vinh. “My brother and I were there because we needed a better opportunity.” Vinh speaks fondly of his years at Boys Village, remembering the fun and recreation, the positive encouragement, and especially the love and support of his house parents there. “The Christian experience really helped me,” says Vinh. He recalls how his house parent, Jerry Fewell, encouraged him to change his focus from the fear of God to the love of Christ.
Twenty five years later, Vinh enjoys a successful happy life in Lake Charles with his wife Marinetta. He volunteers at his church, The Vineyard, in Moss Bluff, as a praise and worship leader. Vinh works for Freshko Foods and does freelance graphic arts and website design. He’ll always remember the positive impact Boys Village had on his life, and he strives to give back to the community. “Boys Village was there for me, through the roughest times in my life.”
By Angie Kay Dilmore