Breakthrough: Sandy Vogelman

Posted by: DVULI | May 30, 2023

by Kimberlee Mitchell, Staff

Sandy Vogelman (San Antonio 2017) is not unlike any other passionate urban youth leader, particularly the ones who can identify with the complicated misfortunes too many inner-city youths face today. She can relate to living on very limited resources, being a victim, and surviving multiple traumas.

At some point, Sandy had to confront what stood in the way of her becoming the leader God intended her to be at San Antonio Youth for Christ. Therefore, in 2017, she participated in the DVULI training as part of a Youth for Christ cohort.

“NC1 broke me. I called my family from Orlando in tears,” recalls Sandy of her highly emotional and revealing experience. Even though the 15-month experience is designed to help leaders confront both past and present blind spots, Sandy had a hard time moving beyond her troubled past. She discovered her unresolved childhood trauma had become a roadblock to leadership development and placed her focus on her own trauma-informed care and journey toward healing.

Through a God-designed rare chain of circumstances, Sandy was nominated for the city coordinator position for the San Antonio DVULI class of 2022. Typically, alumni of the program are not considered for the position. However, Sandy proved to be the best person for the job and made the commitment to “trust the process for a second time.”

Drinking from the DVULI proverbial fire hydrant once more, the training revealed blind spots that had led to Sandy’s decline. There was emotional fatigue, spiritual drought, and financial stress. This and more had bred resentment and discontentment, and she felt stuck. “I never understood how pastors, ministry leaders, and people of faith could walk away from their calling until I experienced [all this trauma] myself,” she divulges. “I was drowning in a sea of ministry martyrs. I barely survived while I gave ministry my all. It left no room for me to grow, let alone dream.” Ministry became an unhealthy place for Sandy, leaving her to contemplate finding a new profession. She soon discovered what she really needed was a new mindset.

The DVULI Systems Thinking Conference (NC1) gave Sandy clarity like never before. She observed organizational system breakdowns and personal system breakdowns from her own “stinking thinking.” Sandy reflects, “I dismissed [my colleagues at YFC] because I didn’t believe they cared. But they were carrying a lot too.”.

Even though she had received professional counseling, Sandy had to implement her own efforts to make strategic and effective changes. Her new mindset was to ask herself: “How can I be part of the solution instead of part of the problem?” This has freed her to dream again.

Sandy has found her purpose, which is to bridge the gap for youth who struggle with childhood trauma. She’s working to achieve this by providing a much-needed missing step in existing youth leadership development training. “I’m committed to writing a youth leadership curriculum with a Positive Youth Development (PYD) focus,” says Sandy. “I observed [that another] systematic mistake was prematurely giving leadership roles to new-to-the-faith youth. They’re saddled with loads of unresolved trauma, baggage, broken belief, and home life systems and simply not yet ready for leadership.” Sandy’s curriculum also will help youth foster a positive identity so that by early adulthood, youth leaders are ready to serve students in middle and high schools.

Sandy’s prayers were answered when she landed a full-time position as a risk management specialist at YFC National. The flexibility in this new job allows her to continue working at the local San Antonio YFC chapter in a volunteer capacity.

In addition, she has gone on to co-write a strategic plan, employee handbook, and other policy-driven items aimed at bringing up more and better leaders. “I love that I’m still serving with Youth for Christ San Antonio as a volunteer. I’m still quite involved,” she explains.

Looking back, it’s clear Sandy’s unconventional DVULI journey was God-designed. “DVULI stretched, broke, molded, and uplifted me,” says Sandy. “The impact touched every area of my life, aligning it all for His very best for me and the youth I serve.” Sandy goes on to state, “I am living out my purpose as a reformed victim turned advocate for those who don’t have a voice, for those who are unseen, for those who are misunderstood.”

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