Since Voice of Hope set out 37 years ago to minister to the children of West Dallas, we have sought to identify best practices for holistic child care. Parents are a child’s first champion, and the Family and Community Services program was born out of an intention to walk with parents alongside their children.
The goal of engaging families does not come without obstacles. The Search Institute cites practical, behavioral, and institutional barriers to making parents feel welcome to come through an organization’s doors; including time and transportation, loss of privacy, and lack of trust.
But as Mrs. Debbie Solis, Voice of Hope’s Director of Family and Community Services, will tell you, “Ministering to the whole family makes it easier to change lives.” According to the Search Institute, families matter in the rearing of a child, and “educators know that students learn better and are more motivated when their parents are involved and committed to supporting their learning.”
Mrs. Solis is a proud third generation West Dallas resident who connects with parents on a daily basis, adept at relational ministry and raising children in the West Dallas community. Although she grew up in a stable household, “outside of my home I saw a lawless community that was treated like second class citizens,” she shares. “We did not have police officers taking care of my neighborhood when I was a child. I witnessed institutional racism and discrimination in school.” Her experience allows her to better relate to parents, particularly through the Voice of Hope Parenting Class.
The Parenting Class, part of the Family and Community Services program, offers food, encouragement, prayer, Bible study, parenting tips, and assistance. Sponsored by Toyota through the National Center for Families Learning (built to eradicate poverty through education solutions for families), Parenting Class is a safe space for children and parents alike. As Starlet, Voice of Hope mother, explains, they discuss “real-life things” in class, including caring for the whole child, understanding a child’s point of view, and Christ-centered parenting.
One lesson that struck a chord for Starlet was about giving your children a bigger vocabulary. If your child is angry, can they tell you what kind of angry? Mad-angry, frustrated-angry, or sad-angry? “It was very eye-opening, and gave me a better sense of how to fix a problem,” Starlet explains. “I can be more mindful of what my child really needs.” She appreciates that Parenting Class offers a set time for her to have dinner and fellowship with her children before class begins.
Parents bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table, and Mrs. Solis recognizes that it is critical to honor and welcome parents in the building. She overcomes the barriers mentioned above by befriending parents on a personal level, relating to her own experience and even using bilingual communication to include Spanish-speaking adults.
“Having the opportunity to lead Voice of Hope's Family and Community Services has been a way to bring healing to my community,” Mrs. Solis express. “Our future is our children, and it is very important that we model Christian character and mentor the parents and children to be successful in their walk with the Lord and their walk in society.” Voice of Hope is humbled by the ongoing and future relationships we have with the parents of West Dallas!
Exactly 15 years ago, Edward Franklin was handed the keys to Voice of Hope, tasked with harnessing the potential of out-of-school time to serve a generation of West Dallas students through both education and the Gospel.
Mr. Franklin’s story begins in a Philadelphia neighborhood not unlike one you might find in West Dallas. Although he acknowledges the distress and blight in the community he saw on a daily basis, he attributes his own robust childhood to the fact that he was raised by both a mother and a father in the home. Both of his parents modeled the Christan faith and high educational attainment, setting a standard for him that was not mirrored by most in his surroundings. “I grew up in an underserved community and lived around folks like those I serve and live alongside now,” he shares. “I can identify with many of the hopes, dreams, concerns and fears they have."
After earning two Master’s Degrees from Westminster Theological Seminary, Mr. Franklin worked as a Behavior Specialist and Mobile Therapist for children. He was praying and planning to plant a church in his home neighborhood - that is, until a “214” phone number rang and asked him to consider moving to Dallas, Texas. The invitation was to enter in to what God was doing with a ministry in an underserved part of town called West Dallas. He, his wife, and their one-week-old daughter, Hannah, accepted the invitation and on August 31st, 2004, Mr. Franklin began serving as Voice of Hope’s new President and Chief Executive Officer.
Now serving over 300 students in three locations in three cities in Dallas County, Mr. Franklin and his team have spent the last fifteen years learning and serving in the community, perfecting their ASPIRE after-school and SOAR summer camp programs. “When the school bell rings, we have an opportunity to come alongside the school, the parent, and the community to reinforce what happens in the school day and prevent summer learning loss,” Mr. Franklin shares. He cites curriculum, school partnership, and parent support as the best targets for innovation. “Our ASPIRE after-school curriculum must be customized and contextual for it to resonate with our children,” he explains. Within the public school space, Voice of Hope seeks to walk alongside the school as an extended learning partner. He also lauds parents for their irreplaceable role in a child’s academic and spiritual development and is continually finding ways to support the family unit.
There is much more to be done in the next fifteen years and beyond. How will Voice of Hope prepare today’s young students for 2035? “The jobs of tomorrow will not look like the jobs of today,” Mr. Franklin forecasts. Voice of Hope aims to instill fundamental skills around social emotional learning, critical thinking, and team building. Most of all, the staff, teachers, and volunteers of Voice of Hope are teaching students to value education.
Just like the students of Voice of Hope, Edward Franklin is on his own journey of learning. He is completing his Doctor of Ministry degree from Knox Theological Seminary and has been accepted to participate in the National After School Matters Fellowship, Leadership Dallas, and the Christian Community Development Leadership Cohort 8. In his words,
He extends a heartfelt thank-you to the donors who have supported Voice of Hope for the last fifteen years and even the 37 years that Voice of Hope’s doors have been open. He declares, “We cannot do what we do without faithful folks who believe in what we are doing in the community and in the lives of children and their families."
In celebration of fifteen years, we look to another fifteen years and invite you to help galvanize the future.
$15 per day provides the monthly ASPIRE curriculum materials (pencils, crayons, paper, etc.) needed for 300 after-school students.
$150 per week provides food for the children in our Early Childhood Education and Care program.
$1,500 per month provides a 77-passenger bus to transport 150 students from school to Voice of Hope daily.
$15,000 per year provides competitive compensation for one part-time Program Associate for an academic year (10 months).
Jesus always welcomed children! We see a beautiful example of this in Mark 10:13-16. As families are bringing their children before Jesus to lay hands on them and bless them, the disciples get upset and try to send them away. When Jesus sees they were being asked to leave, he put a stop to it saying “let the children come to me”. He then lays hands on them, blesses them and goes away on his journey. We do not know how long He prayed or any additional interaction that may have taken place between Jesus and the children, but for those few moments, when Jesus lays his hands on them and blesses them, those children were in the best early childhood program EVER!
Our desire as we service the families and children in our community, is to have the best early childhood program ever. We may not match the touch of our savior or even come close to it but we will do our best to make sure that the children we serve know that they are loved and cared for by our staff and ultimately by Jesus who is the Christ.
Welcome to Baby University!
Baby University (Baby U) provides infants, toddlers, and Pre-K children with excellent care in a Christian environment where they can grow and thrive all the way to college and career. We also incorporate a two-generation approach that coordinates preschool with parenting programs to strengthen and stabilize families.
Below are just a few reasons why we started our licensed childcare center:
Please partner with us as we seek to honor God by building strong families, developing solid educational foundations which will lead our children to a successful transition into adulthood.
Ceroncia dances her way to a bright future
Alexia is a very talented young artist. Her Christmas card drawing won the contest this year and her fourth grade class is very excited about it! They get to have a pizza party since the winning artist was from their grade.
Alexia has been attending Voice of Hope for almost 4 years and will turn 10 on December 29th. Her favorite activities at Voice of Hope’s after-school program are playing outside, Bible study lessons, and of course, arts and crafts. She says that she loves the Bible study classes because they help her understand more of what she learns at church. She wrote one of her favorite verses on her card, "A Savior has been born.” Luke 2:11
One of Alexia’s favorite memories at Voice of Hope is when they went on a field trip to see the movie “BFG” and she loves her coaches. She especially likes that they help her read. She is currently reading the book series, “Bad Kitty.” Alexia is a straight A student who is described by her coaches as friendly and respectful; a true servant leader in her classroom.
Impacting the Future
“Working with the kids brings an indescribable joy to my heart that nothing else ever has in my life.”
Henry Bould has been volunteering at Voice of Hope since his Freshman year at Trinity Christian Academy. As Henry explains, a simple need for volunteer hours in 9th grade has grown into a passion.
Darian has worked at and been a part of the Voice of Hope family for a little over a year. In that short time, she has taken on many roles and responsibilities helping whenever and however she can. Darian has served as a Site Leader, Development Assistant, and is currently working as a
Stories of Hope
Voice of Hope is proud to share a series of stories through this year that will tell the history of Voice of Hope and what a tremendous impact your support has had in the community and so many lives.