Update: Read here about how SoundSteps families collected 648 pair of underpants in 2012!
Not every Kindermusik class is listed on our website. That’s because on Friday mornings, a SoundSteps Kindermusik educator goes deep, downtown to Vogel Alcove Childcare for Homeless Children. We donate time and profits and provide free Friday morning classes for the children in this wonderful place.
If you’ve never had the opportunity to serve at this Dallas icon, let me tell you a little about the people in this building. Of course it’s a great building–decked out with colorful classrooms filled with age-appropriate centers and toys.
But it’s the people who make Vogel special. The place is staffed to-the-max. Not only is the building fully staffed with competent caring staffers, but there is a steady stream of volunteers (800 per year) in and out, spending time with the children or working on projects. It’s a busy, busy place.
Teachers are the heart of Vogel. We offer classes at several Dallas preschools and this group of educators can match any of them in excellence and passion. They are enthusiastic and loving; gentle, yet firm when needed; and no nonsense, as any good preschool teacher should be.
Outside, you’ll see a health services bus. Children are walked out to it all morning long, getting well-checks and evaluations. In fact before any child comes into the building; one staffer takes a good luck at them to make sure they are healthy and safe.
Then, throughout the day, there is a cadre of social, medical, and educational service providers working with children in one-on-one screening and care. And they’re also well fed with hot and healthy meals and snacks throughout the day. Services for the families include: nutrition counseling, mental health consulting, parent consulting, bilingual counseling, on-site nurse, after-Vogel care and referrals.
Tangible provisions include: homemade meals, diapers, formula, shoes and clothing.
Everything from speech therapy to immunizations, these children get the best of the best care while they’re there.
The reality is, though, that once a family gets on its feet, the children move on. They are eligible to attend the school as long as they are living in an affiliated agency’s homeless shelter, domestic violence shelter, or transitional housing program. For some, that means they are there three months; for others, an entire school year. The center gives them stability and services, routine and safety—all the things a child needs in order to thrive. In fact, a child’s time at Vogel Alcove may perhaps be the best time of his/her early childhood years.
But thankfully, these are the 0-6 years, the years we Kindermusik folks know are the foundation for all future success. These children get a lot of love and we are grateful to be a part of it. While we don’t know who will be there the next time we go, we cherish every moment we have with them.
So let us tell you about the beautiful children of Vogel. They do not look anything like you’d expect a “homeless child” would look like. They are spotless, perfectly clean, well dressed, and easily could be “the child next door.” Well-mannered, polite and well-behaved, they are some of the best preschoolers we work with in any given week. They LOVE to sing and dance and are eager to see what lurks in our box of instruments for them. They are focused and participate eagerly. We may go so far as to say they are some of the best-behaved, sweetest preschoolers we see each week.
The one difference we see between these children and some others is how much they crave touch and hugs. They are always clamoring to be closest to the Kindermusik teacher–for the spot to sit beside her or to hold her hand when we dance. We willingly oblige. And when we sing our goodbye song, we have to steady ourselves for the literal flood of hugs that we receive. Seriously, if we don’t brace ourselves, they’ll topple us over. These children are alive with music from head-to-toe, joy in their smiles, and love in their hearts.
We are so grateful to be part of this wonderful place and we invite you to join us as we “refill” their underwear cache. They ALWAYS need children’s underpants, especially toddler sizes and especially for boys. If you’d like to help out, please consider bringing new underpants to our Kindermusik Family Appreciation Day event on Saturday May 18, 2013 10 am – 12 pm at Our Redeemer Lutheran. Your donation for Vogel Alcove children will be greatly appreciated!
This post brought to you by Miss Lisa