Vogel Alcove, Comprehensive Help For The Homeless Across Generations
Vogel Alcove, Comprehensive Help For The Homeless Across Generations
Through comprehensive programs for kids and adults Vogel Alcove is committed to ending the cycle of poverty and homelessness for families in the DFW metroplex.
Their annual fundraiser “Day 1 Dallas” is coming to Roughriders stadium in Frisco on January 1st and promises a host of fun activities for families for just $5.
SHOW NOTES:[00:29] Meet Karen Hughes, President & CEO of Vogel Alcove
[01:30] Meet Sammy Gonzalez, VP of Marketing for Vogel Alcove
[03:30] Volgle Alcove programs, and breaking the cycle of poverty
[08:56] The history of Vogel Alcove
[11:58] Day 1 Dallas event at Roughriders stadium
[17:30] The geography that Vogel Alcove serves
[18:20] How you can help Vogel Alcove
LINKS & RESOURCES:
- Day 1 Dallas Event
- Vogel Alcove’s Website
- Vogel Alcove on Lifestyle Frisco
- Vogel Alcove on Instagram
- Vogel Alcove on Facebook
Connect with Lifestyle Frisco on:
Welcome to the Frisco Podcast. I’m your host, Scott Ellis. And this week we are joined by Sammy Gonzales and Karen Hughes from Vogel Alcove. And we’re going to be talking a little bit about what their organization does and an upcoming event called day one Dallas. That’s happening on January 1st, 2020 first and foremost, guys, welcome to the show. Cool, thank you. Thank you. And I feel, I think I introduced you in the wrong order because Karen is the president and CEO of Vogel Alcove. And tell us a little bit about yourself and your background and how you came to be involved with this organization.
Well, early childhood has always been my background. I started at Baylor and with elementary ed and then went to Houston and taught school and own my own school at one point and then got my masters degree and then went to Houston community college and started their onsite lab school and taught early childhood classes and then left the great state of Texas and moved to DC. And so I was in DC for about 10 years working for the national association for the education of young children. And then another nonprofit called the companion center. My husband and I adopted a little boy from Ethiopia when we were up there. And once we got Noah, we wanted to move back and the Vogel Alcove did a national search and found me there and I was ready to come home. So that’s how I got back here.
Well, based on what little I know about Vogel Alcove, it sounds like you have exactly the right background to be leading this organization. So we’ll talk some more about that in a little bit. And Sammy, how about you? Yeah, after the designer out of college, um, started here in Dallas and started working with the American heart association, uh, was in their brand advertising and design department. So I’ve really learned more about marketing back when marketing was still pretty new as far as like the blogs and, and you know, getting more content creation out and everything. And I found an organization that had a great role as the director of marketing it’s called. And it was called Vogle Alcove. And so learned all about it and learned that there was homeless children in Dallas. Very naive to that subject. And then, um, and went through one of the toughest interviews I ever had in my entire life, um, sat here with Karen and uh, but really prepared me for the day to day operations of Vogel Alcove and that was going on about seven years ago.
Um, and so really to see the organization change so much, um, about using all my whole background, social media marketing, graphic design, um, really leaving that stamp on the organization and helping communicate to the public about what we do and how we serve the homeless children and families in Dallas. So, uh, that’s a great segue into talking about Vogel Alcove and what that organization does. So prior to the, the podcast interview this morning, I was doing some additional research and reading about it and watching some of the video that you guys have produced. And, um, for whatever reason, homeless, the, the, the topic of homelessness is always something that’s been a little bit close to my heart because I’ve always felt like for somebody that wants to get their life back on track, if they, if you don’t even have a place to live, it’s very hard to do.
Right? You don’t even really have the basics covered. And I know there are organizations and a lot of help and support out there for homeless adults, but you guys are taking it a step further and not only are the adults getting what they need, but you guys are helping the kids and putting a lot of focus on that and trying to break that cycle, which I think is a phenomenal idea. So talk to us a little bit about, in a little more detail about what Vogel Alcove does and how you’re helping the children that are part of homeless families.
Well, the children who come to us, um, every day are [inaudible] when they first come to us, they’re living in a emergency shelter, a transitional housing program or a domestic violence shelter. Um, once they arrive and we work with them for awhile then and if their pant family gets housing, they can still stay. So right now it’s about 50% of people are housed and 50% are still in shelter with the children that we have. I like to say in terms of our programs that what Vogel does is we, um, rewire brains. We repair hearts and we restore families. So the rewiring the brain part comes with the fact that our children are zero to three. So we work with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. And brain research will tell you that that’s the most critical time in life for a child’s brain to develop and that will make a difference for the rest of their lives.
And so a lot of our kids are in trauma. And so therefore, if you look at a child’s brain under trauma and one that’s not, the brain is totally wired differently. And so we’ve got to provide those experiences in relationships so that our children can literally rewire their brains so that they will be successful later on by giving them the correct environment. So we provide a quality early childhood program. We provide enrichment, um, activities. Um, and then we also provide developmental services. A lot of our kids have delays, so we provide speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy on site. We also provide a health program. So we have a mental health clinic on site. We also provide breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack. Parkland is there once a week with doctors and nurses on their van. Um, and then we also provide a mental health clinic because mental health is a big issue, um, not only with the families but also with the children.
And so we provide play therapy as well as mental health therapies, counseling sessions for the families, the parents. And we do that in, in conjunction with the Dallas echo when Lennox center. Um, and then we provide family support services because we do believe, like you mentioned, we believe in a two generational approach. If you look at any of the research on how to break the cycle of poverty, um, it will tell you that you’ve got to work with both generations and so, and the more we can do under one roof so that parents don’t have to go somewhere else, the better off we are. So we provide, um, a case manager for each of the families that are master level social workers and they meet those fans, those, and usually it’s moms cause 95% of the people who we work with are single moms that are, and so they meet them where they are and they help them take the next step of getting their family’s stability.
And that looks different for every single family that walks through the door. And so then we’d provide um, job ready classes in January. We’ll, we’ve just registered about I think, uh, eight people in GED classes. We’ll be doing ESL classes in January. So really what do they need to be able to get a job? We have a, a room called the parent opportunity center where they can go and find jobs on the computer. We help them with resumes and interviewing techniques and those kinds of things. We then have a career ready program. And again, a lot of our families may have jobs but they’ll never get out of poverty with the kind of job they had. So we help them figure out how to go back to school, what other kind of job training programs are in town that will give them a better chance at a higher paying job. And then we provide network and support, um, with, um, many grants and things like that, just to keep them moving forward and an ability to connect with other people. Because like I said, most of them are single moms. They have no support system under them. And so we provide different things for them to keep them moving forward.
Well that is a comprehensive, to say the least. You guys are doing a lot to help these folks out. That’s, that’s probably the best word that I use. Whenever someone says, uh, you know, tell me a little bit about what you do. Um, and, uh, the best way to phrase that as one comprehensive but then to understanding that a family is in a state of stress and trauma and understanding that a child is in a state of stress and trauma. And so as a parent and so learn teaching parents to be great parents in that state of stress and trauma to a child that’s in a state of stress and trauma. And we use those words a lot, um, because that’s what they’re under. It’s toxic stress and trying to remove that from their life. Wow. Very good. And so what age up to what age are you able to help kids and provide that education and those services?
In our regular program, there’s a day to day program. We provide for infants six weeks through age five when the kids go to kindergarten. But then during, um, Christmas break, which will be coming up in a couple of weeks, um, we provide a gap camp for kindergarten through fifth grade. And then during the summer we provide a full three month summer camp for kindergarten through fifth grade.
Okay. And so the, the, from kindergarten and above, are they going to public schools typically during that time? Correct. Okay. And for the younger ones, um, you, you mentioned helping train up the, the parents to go out and work and find jobs and presumably many of them do just that. So is there childcare?
Yeah, that’s, that’s our early childhood program. So we’re there from 6:00 AM 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM and then the parents leave them there in our early childhood program and we provide the childcare for them.
Gotcha. So, um, I mean, I almost don’t even know where to begin, but how, how did Vogel Alcove get started? And did it come out of the gate kind of this massive program that you have, or is it something that’s evolved over the years? Um,
so the history is, it started in the Jewish faith actually. Um, and there was a group of people at Shearith Israel that were a, um, the social action committee and they decided to go do something about homelessness, um, 30 years over 30 years ago. Um, and they reached out to their counterparts at temple Emmanuel, um, temple. And, um, so they got together and then what really came of that? They created the Dallas Jewish coalition for the homeless, which ended up being about 23 different Jewish organizations. Once they did that, they broke up, broke up in teams and, and went out to look and see what project they were going to take on. Doris Bonnar was the chair of the childcare committee and they came back and presented and said, there’s nothing for these children in town for childcare. People are working with the parents, but there’s nothing in the shelter.
So they can’t work with the parents if somebody doesn’t work with the children. And so that was the beginning of Vogel Alcove. And um, so Thelma Vogel endorsed Butner where the founding, um, women who founded the organization, um, and began to run it. It started off with 10 kids in an Alcove in the downtown family shelter at the time, which is now family gateway. And that’s kind of held. The name came about. And then, um, filma who started it was running the organization. There was a plane crash in the early nineties out at DFW airport and she was killed in that plane crash. And so then after that they named the organization after her, the Dallas Jewish coalition, um, dissolved and Vogel became its own nondenominational [inaudible] from there that we’ve moved about, I guess three times. Most recently, five years ago, we moved into old city park elementary school, which is 50,000 square feet of space.
And we did a major remodel. We rent that space from Dallas ISD. They had closed the school. Um, and so now we have a 50,000 square foot campus. When we moved, we doubled capacity, um, at that point. Um, and now we have not only space, more space for more kids, but we have a huge campus that also has wonderful vegetable gardens and outdoor gardens. We have a kitchen garden and, um, playgrounds and all natural playground that’s been certified by the Arbor foundation. It’s just a beautiful space. We call it the backyard because our kids don’t have a backyard. Um, so that’s kind of where, where we’ve been, um, to where we are now. Where is it located? We’re at, um, at 1738 Ganos street, but it’s just South of 30. I’m in, down in the Cedars neighborhood downtown. If you know where, um, old city park is, or heritage village. We’re right across the street.
Okay, very good. We had a beacon at one point this time, a unfortunate beacon. Um, but uh, you might’ve remembered the ambassador hotel and it was there downtown that caught on fire. Well, we were across the street from that, so unfortunately. Um, but yeah, that’s, that’s kind of where we are located. That didn’t affect you guys in any way. Did it? Okay, good. We were all worried. I’m sure I’m, that would have been a blow, but right. Glad to hear that. So, um, you’ve got an event coming up in Frisco. Let’s talk a little bit about that because I want to make sure we get the word out and get people to come out and take part in what you guys have going on called day one, Dallas, not as happening at the Frisco Roughriders stadium here in Frisco on January 1st. So tell us about the event.
What are we going to be getting ourselves into? Sure. You want me, you want me to talk a little bit about it? Okay. So day one, Dallas. So name is a little misleading this year cause it’s actually day one, Dallas and Frisco. Um, so for the past four years we’ve hosted this event. It’s a free children and families fair held at fair park. But this year we moved it up to Frisco in partnership with the rough riders and the embassy suites a convention center. So that’s where the location of this year’s event and it’s a event where for $5. So you come in at three to 7:00 PM, um, all kinds of games, activities, magic acts, live performances, um, pretty much everything you can, you can do for a kid to have fun with family on new year’s day. And then we’re going to culminate with the fireworks show, uh, outside of the Roughriders stadium as well.
So our slogan has come out and play on new year’s day. We know, uh, I have two young children, so I know it gets a little restless in the holiday times. You spending lots of time together. So I want to get out, uh, whether it should be great and it’s 90% indoors. Um, so that shouldn’t be a factor at all, but we’re going to have unique opportunities for people just to have some unique experiences such as you can, uh, hit off, um, a pitching machine and, uh, at the home run Derby, um, you can also utilize the pitching mountains, um, at, um, Roughrider stadium. But then inside the embassy suites too, we’re going to have a DJ booth. We’re gonna have a karaoke, we’re going to have a big cardboard village. Uh, some of the different types of activities that children can participate in. And again, it’s just $5 to get in. It’s a donation to Vogel Alcove. And then they get to learn a little bit more about who we are. But really it’s just about having fun together. And this is all the brainchild of Karen sitting. Here’s how, I’ll let her talk a little bit more about how she came up with the event. Sure.
Well, I’d mentioned that I’d moved back from the East coast. And on the East coast they have something, um, it’s called first night and they have it in many cities across the East coast. And it’s really a family event, um, for new year’s Eve. And so when I had arrived here, we were looking again cause I had Noah and I was looking for something to do on new year’s day and there was really nothing in the medic metroplex or even on new year’s Eve. Um, and at the same time with Vogel, we were trying to do something different in terms of raising money. There are so many golf outings, so many galas, so many luncheons. What can we do differently, um, that not only would help the community but raise money. So we started, um, we did our first day one, Dallas and the rest is history. So we’ve, this is not a year number five. Very good.
What made you decide to bring it to Frisco? We’re glad to have you here, but I’m just curious.
Well. Um, there’s this, um, large event that’s happening on new year’s day called the NHL winter classic and they’re coming to the cotton bowl, um, uh, at, um, on January 1st. And so NBC bought out the rights to the full fair park, but two weeks before and two weeks after, so we didn’t have a home. So we began to look at somewhere else to go and it just made sense. Um, I’m a business owner here in Frisco, so, um, my husband and I also own in my other life own petty ans flowers here in Frisco on Marie. That’s wonderful. And so because, uh, so in Sammy lives here, I live in Allen and so it’s like we knew this was the family Mecca and so, and we then approached, um, the, the mayor’s office and the visit Frisco and everybody was so encouraging that yes, y’all need to come here. And so that’s how we landed here.
Well, very good. Well, I’m glad to hear you’ve had a chance to connect with city council and I’m sure they did welcome me with open arms. We’ve got a lot of great things happening in Frisco and I’m proud to be able to add you guys to that list of things we can go talk about for sure. And thanks for your support too. I mean, have us on the podcast helping us spread the word about what we do. It’s, you know, being downtown in Dallas, a lot of people think homelessness is just a Dallas issue. Um, but you know, as, as our is growing here in Frisco, we want to make sure we get ahead of it too. So educating people, uh, about homelessness, educating people about, you know, brain’s stress and trauma, um, and getting ahead of it here, uh, I think is important to you.
So being able to reach out to more people here in Frisco is important. I’m glad you mentioned that Sammy, because it is, it’s something that’s come up on, on the Frisco podcast a few times with various guests, but, um, Frisco does have its share of, of problems that I think we normally associate like homelessness, uh, childhood homelessness, um, that we normally associate with maybe, you know, downtown Dallas and things like that. You don’t think about it in Frisco because it’s really not that visible here, but it definitely does exist. We have families and kids in need and uh, there’s been a lot of great organizations that have come up throughout the years to try to help solve those. And, uh, it’s, it’s something I think we have to stay on top of and keep our eyes out for because Frisco is growing so fast, everybody’s so busy, very easy to overlook some of those things and just not even be aware that they’re happening here.
Um, so, you know, I think that the events like what you guys are doing, yes, it will be fun and it’s a great way to help your kids burn off some of the holiday energy and maybe go wear ’em out a little bit. Uh, but also to generate some awareness that this isn’t just a Dallas problem or a big city problem. This kind of stuff happens in the suburbs and there are folks here that need help as well. And so actually that brings up a good question. What is the, the geography that you guys work with in terms of if people need help? Is it kind of more in Dallas proper or can people come from,
well, they can. Most people that come to Vogel Alcove are in Dallas, but we work with 23 different shelters. Um, and some of those are in Plano, um, domestic violence shelters. And so if the families can get down there, the transportation is the issue. But if a family is living in a shelter in Plano or somewhere else then, and they’re working in Dallas and they can get down to Dallas to, with transportation, then they certainly can bring their kids to Vogel Alcove. Yeah. Okay. Very good. Uh, is there anything else about the organization that you would like us to know? Maybe any common questions that are questions that people don’t ask enough of that you definitely want to make sure we get the word out? Well, I think the, one of the questions people ask is, um, especially as people go and come down and go and do a tour and then they walk out and they’re like, so what can I do to help?
That’s kind of the main question. Um, we have a five and a half million dollar budget. We only get about a million and a half of that from governmental type grant sources. So we raise the rest from the community. So we certainly can always use financial donations. Um, and we would love to people, we have a program we call flight where you can actually make a recurring donation, um, and a monthly donation and be part of our flight, um, program. Um, and then we have, um, in kind donations. We’ve just finished our holiday store last year. The gym was totally transformed into a toy story store, but throughout the year we need things like diapers. We go through 5,000 diapers a month. Um, so diapers, wipes, shoes, any kind of used clothes, uh, gently used clothes, um, and toys because we give each of the children a birthday party on their birthdays.
So we continually use the toys throughout the year. And so in kind donations and then volunteers. So our staff are very well trained, um, early childhood professionals and social work professionals. Um, but we, you can’t have enough people loving on these kids. And so we have volunteers that come out, they work in the classrooms. Um, they also do, um, events for us or they work in the gardens. Um, so there’s all kinds of things that corporations or individuals can do or civic groups, um, is in terms of coming down and doing a volunteer project. And then we have a board of 47. And so people are looking for leadership opportunities. We’re always, um, some people are rolling off and we’re needing new new leadership. So those are the main things that people can do to help us. We, we literally could not do what we do in the Dallas community if it wasn’t for the Dallas community.
Yeah. And there’s another program that I like to mention. It’s for, it’s created for small to midsize businesses because some people think it’s like, well, we’re, you know, we’re a small company. We can’t really make an impact financially, but what can we do to help? And so there’s, we have a small program called community heroes and that’s essentially we get, uh, companies to do small to mid size businesses to do three things. One is to donate, one is to volunteer and one is to share the message. And so it’s a great opportunity for people to come down and take a tour of our facility. So if you go to our website, you can see it. It’s, it’s under, uh, community heroes. But if people want just don’t know how to give back or their, their businesses ready to start giving back, that’s a great
entree into rallying your, your, uh, team members to be able to do that together. And we’ve, we find that the people that serve together really form a tight bond at work and then they’re able to kind of help their business grow themselves. And so many people in this area, especially, they’re moving in, they just don’t know about the different resources that are available. It’s a families. And so we’d like to educate them and say, you know, if you want to give back your reach out to us, we do a open house event once a month. Uh, so the next one would be in January, call it coffee with the kids. So take a tour of our facility. Uh, my running joke is that we don’t give the kids coffee. Um, so we like to keep them manageable. Um, but come on down, have a cup of coffee, learn more about our programs, services and how you can get engaged and involved either as an individual or as a company and then be able to integrate yourself into helping other people.
Very good. Well you guys are doing great work and amazing things and thank you so much for uh, taking that on and continuing the mission that was started by Vogel and, and others. So and again, happy to have you guys up in Frisco for that event on January 1st three to seven Roughriders ballpark. I assume people just show up, make their $5 donation and get a wristband. Okay. They can also, there’s tickets on sale online, right? Okay. Tickets are available now. Day one. dallas.com says day number one, dallas.com. Okay. Tickets, $5 you can go online and then pre-purchase those to help you skip the onsite lines. Um, but then just come out and play on new year’s day. Just have a good time. Sounds fantastic. And for people, if people want to learn more about the organization, about Vogel Alcove, where do they go? Vogel Alcove.org uh, is the main website and again you can go and look at the advance that we have there.
Day one Dallas is listed there as well. Okay, very good. And I know you guys have a page up on Lifestyle Frisco as well in the Give for Frisco section. Absolutely. So you can also jump out to a give for frisco.com and it will redirect you and in search for Vogel Alcove and you can get a bunch of information there and that’ll link out to your other properties. There’s buttons there for a donating and things like that as well. And just by a way of of plugging it, there’s a, an event coming up called give for Frisco day on February 14th where we encourage people to go out and make donations to charities that are close to their hearts and things that they want to support and contribute to. So hopefully we can help you guys do a little fundraising on that day as well. Oh, great. Thank you so much guys. Thanks again for coming out and thanks to all of you for listening to the Frisco podcast. As always, you can find us on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google play, and pretty much any place you’re listening to podcast. So please head on out there, give us a rating, leave us a comment and be sure to subscribe. We’ll talk to you next time.