Since opening its doors in August of 2016, Phoenix-based Thrive AZ has made it their mission to change the lives of countless Arizona families for the better. Thrive AZ has played an integral role in foster care prevention and biological family reunification by connecting deserving families with critical resources and support that would otherwise be out of reach.
With over 18,000 children currently in foster care in the state of Arizona, the need for organizations like Thrive AZ is substantial—and the challenges even more so. But when you ask Thrive AZ Founder Teri Vogel what keeps her going on her most difficult days, she’ll say with a chuckle and a wink:
“Coffee, Jesus and Amazon.”
Today, Brooklyn Bedding proudly partners with Thrive AZ to provide age-appropriate mattresses and bedding for families in transition. Although Teri might downplay just how much energy and compassion it takes for her and the entire Thrive AZ team to continue helping Arizona families, the key to success is much bigger than just a good night’s sleep. We caught up with Teri to learn about the inspiration behind the organization and her secrets for success.
Q: Let’s start at the beginning…. what was the inspiration behind Thrive AZ?
Teri: “As a volunteer about 5 years ago, I was working with a young woman who was dealing with a crisis pregnancy. She was dealing with domestic violence, substance abuse, a history of trauma… trying to beat all of these things. She was six months pregnant, and I was working with her as an advocate to help reunite her with her six other children that were in foster care.
“So I called my husband and said, ‘we’re going to get a baby tonight.’ Naturally, his response was ‘… what?’ But he knew who I was advocating for and he knew her story, so by about 8.30 that night,
“Fast forward a bit, and over time we were able to move her into home, connect her with food pantries, help her find employment, and other resources she would need—and slowly reunite her with her infant son and her six other children.
“So it was
"So that’s where the passion came from. Walking with
Q: Why are things like bedding, sheets and pillows so important to the families you work with?
Teri: “In order for children in foster care to be reunited with their biological families, plenty of measures are taken to ensure that they have the necessities they need. By the time that these families receive things like beds, sheets and pillows
“But the problem is that
“What’s unique about Brooklyn Bedding is that you provide not only twin-sized beds, but also full and queen mattresses as well. So we are able to give our moms a dads an appropriately sized bed, along with many of our older teens. That’s so important because
Q: What is an example of a time when something like new bedding has made a significant difference in the life of a family you worked with?
Teri: “We had one client who was forced to move from parking lot to parking lot while sleeping in her car, all while tucking her children in at night and cleaning them up in a Fry’s bathroom before sending them to school. We were eventually able to take her from living in her car with her children to emergency transitional housing, to now working two to three jobs—including donating plasma every month
Q: For you personally, why do you feel that getting a good night’s sleep is important for your work?
Teri: “I talk a lot about compassion fatigue. Honestly, it’s not the physical exhaustion
“Quiet time and rest is important to me. That and spending time with my family is what recharges me. We even adopted a child out of foster care and recently housed a young man who had aged out of the foster care system.
Q: Your work must be enormously rewarding, but surely it takes an emotional toll, too. What types of thoughts keep you up at night?
Teri: “I know that we win some and we lose some. When I’m not winning, that weighs on me. Thinking about the foster children we’ve had in our home—wondering, where they are now? Are they safe? Things like that keep me up at night. Even the stories of our moms and dads. I can’t imagine being a biological parent and having DCS come to take my children to live with complete strangers and not know where they are. That’s what keeps me up—the fight for those biological families.”
Q: What is the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning?
Teri: “What the day ahead of me will look like.
Q: What are your dreams for the future of Thrive AZ?
Teri: “For the organization, the dream is growth. More people are learning about us and we’re reaching more people. My biggest goal is to reduce the number of kids in foster care, because
“Because, when you think about it, if we could keep biological families together and prevent things like DCS having to remove children, maybe
To learn more about Thrive AZ or to support new projects helping Arizona’s families in transition, visit their website and donate at ThriveAZ.org. To find out more about the Brooklyn Bedding partnership with Thrive AZ's Dream Center project and other organizations helping local families, visit our Cause page.