If you bristle at the thought of a child being homeless, you are not alone. When I first learned that there are roughly 3,000 homeless children in the Dallas-Ft.Worth metroplex, I was shocked. I asked myself the obvious questions: How does this happen? Where do these kids go to sleep at night? Who is helping these children?
Thankfully, there is an answer: Vogel Alcove. Over the last 35 years, Vogel has served nearly 17,000 of Dallas’s homeless population through various uplifting programs designed to care for the children while supporting their parents through career networking, mental health counseling, and general life skills development. The organization currently supports approximately 300 children and their families.
I recently had the opportunity to take a tour of the Vogel Alcove facility with the organization’s Chief Development Officer, Greg Brinkley. Greg is one of many passionately dedicated rock stars at Vogel whose purpose is to evangelize its cause and to serve these precious children and their families.
Vogel’s child development initiatives support children from ages six weeks to Pre-K and has a summer program that includes youngsters up to 8th grade. The organization proudly boasts its kindergartner readiness metric of 90%, which is roughly 50% more than that of the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) average. This means that 90% of the children who leave Vogel Alcove to enter traditional kindergarten are ready to take on the educational, social, and emotional aspects of school.
While at Vogel, the children get the love, safety, and support that they need while their parents are at school, working, or looking for a job. They learn how to self-regulate, develop social skills, and are given the educational preparation that they need to take on schooling.
A significant aspect of the program is nap time. Quality sleep in a shelter is often not achievable. Think about it: could you really sleep well on a cot or mattress in a room with dozens of other people (strangers)? It’s not sustainable long-term. Vogel Alcove provides a safe, comfortable space for each child to rest peacefully so that their little bodies can do the repair and growth work that they need while they sleep.
One of my favorite things about this program is the farm-to-kitchen garden behind the large, well-covered playground on campus. The kids tend to the plants from seed to harvest as they learn about the agricultural lifecycle. Many of the parents ask, “How do you get my kid to eat these things? I don’t even eat this stuff!”
The kids get the nutritional benefit of the larger garden, tended by staff, which provides them with a well-rounded diet and introduces them to foods that they may otherwise not experience. I must confess, these kids eat better than I do, and I’m glad of it! Vogel ensures that each child gets three hearty, healthy meals daily: breakfast, lunch, and a large snack in the afternoon before they leave for the day.
So, let’s cut to the chase. While Greg and his rock-star development team raise over $5M each year through individual donors, foundations, and various corporate sponsorships, events, and an annual gala, there is always room and opportunity to do more.
Greg suggested numerous ways that individuals, groups, and companies can contribute and support Vogel Alcove and their mission. Volunteerism, in-kind donations, advocacy, and financial support are all crucial and integral parts of this successful program. More information on the program and its opportunities are available on the website.
Please take the time to get to know Vogel Alcove and learn more about its outreach and how you can help. While you’re at it, listen to our podcast interview with Greg to hear more about the inspirational stories about this program, these children, their parents, and the superstars who show up for them. I promise you will be inspired.