By Rachel Gross Weinstein
Vogel Alcove has achieved a historic milestone in its 26 years of existence. The Dallas child care center will soon move to City Park Elementary School to continue providing educational, developmental and therapeutic services to homeless children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old.
The organization broke ground at the vacated school building on Sept. 12 and a $3 million renovation project is underway, which is expected to be completed by early 2014. Board members, volunteers and various community members attended the event.
The building, located at 1738 Gano St., is 55,000 square feet, four times the size of Vogel Alcove’s current space. Dallas ISD closed City Park Elementary last June and has agreed to lease the facility to Vogel Alcove; the administrative offices will move there as well, marking the first time that the offices and child care center will be housed in the same building.
This move not only provides for a wonderful partnership with DISD, but also allows Vogel Alcove to expand its services by 65 percent, President and CEO Karen Hughes said during her opening remarks at the groundbreaking.
“Each week in our current facility, we turn away approximately 25 to 40 children because we do not have space for them. What that means is that their parents cannot go about their business of getting their lives together if they don’t have child care during the day,” Hughes said. “At City Park Elementary, we will be able to serve 200 children and add after-school and summer programs. I am also very excited to create an all-natural backyard playground for the children. This will provide an area for them to grow, learn and dream.”
Vogel Alcove has helped 13,500 children in its history, Hughes added. It is the only free comprehensive early childhood program in the city whose primary focus is to provide care and case management for children and their families from 18 local emergency/domestic violence shelters and housing programs. Homelessness in Dallas has risen 36 percent over the past two years.
The school, built in 1919, will undergo complete renovations to meet specific requirements imposed by child care licensing. By moving, Vogel Alcove was able to forgo launching an $18 million capital campaign and it will now provide more revenue to DISD.
“It was 26 years ago when Thelma Vogel and Doris Budner [both of blessed memory] created Vogel Alcove, and this is the result of their heartfelt effort to help alleviate what they saw was the greatest need facing homeless families in Dallas, and that’s caring for its youngest victims,” said board Chair Erin McKool. “In 2013, it’s our desire to give more children the gift of hope and a solid beginning. We have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of some of the neediest of our future generation and our expansion to this facility is a very important step in that.”
McKool added that as a volunteer and board member, she has seen firsthand the difference Vogel Alcove makes. Moving to a new, updated space will enhance that, she said.
Vogel Alcove helps many DISD families, which makes the partnership with the school even more meaningful, according to Bernadette Nutall, DISD District 9 trustee. She is looking forward to Vogel Alcove assisting even more families in years to come.
“This partnership benefits both DISD and Vogel Alcove, which is known throughout the community for the wonderful work helping families in need,” she said. “It is a great pleasure to welcome Vogel Alcove to the South Dallas community. We look forward to a long, productive partnership to create a better future for children and families.”
Craig Budner and Peter Vogel, the sons of Doris Budner and Thelma Vogel, attended the groundbreaking, and both said their mothers would be proud of how far Vogel Alcove has come.
“This is really great, and I know my parents would have loved this too,” Vogel said. “It’s a real tribute to the community that people realize how important Vogel Alcove is. It’s very special.”
“My mother would have loved this, and it shows an institutional stability with this organization,” Budner added. “This space is awesome and creates a greater opportunity for Vogel Alcove and the children. This means a lot to me because it suggests that this organization will be around for another 30-plus years.”
Vogel Alcove’s vision is that every child in the community should have a home, a self-sufficient family and a pathway to success. The new space will allow that to continue, Hughes said.
“Our move to this new facility will significantly increase our efforts to help children,” she said in her closing comments at the event. “We still have more work to do, and I’d like you all to join us and our children as we open new doors and break down new walls for the homeless children in our community.”