Corinne and Roger Vogel holding babies

Vogels Honored for Community Service

Corinne and Roger Vogel of Fairfield have spent more than 40 years serving as foster parents to medically fragile infants, choosing to perform their life-affirming work far from the spotlight. But, good deeds are good news, and word of their decades of dedication was shared with their alma mater, Indiana's Valparaiso University. Officials there awarded the Vogels with their 2016 Distinguished Alumni for Community Service award.

The university may never have known of the Vogels' work if their story had not been told in the Fall 2015 issue of Wellspring. Titled “The Guardian Angels of NorthBay's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit,” the article detailed how they've worked with NorthBay Healthcare's NICU nurses and doctors, respiratory therapists, social workers and physical therapists for more than 30 years to provide home health care for more than 120 children. The article also explained why they opted to establish an annuity through NorthBay Healthcare Foundation.

As they are now in their 70s, they decided to tell their story, not only to encourage others to consider serving as foster parents, but to consider establishing an annuity so that services for NICU babies would always be available.

“NorthBay has provided such valuable, essential services, we wanted to give back,” Corinne said at the time. “Setting up an annuity was a way for us to ensure these essential services are there for others.”

Valparaiso University learned of the Vogel's dedicated work in 2015, after Corinne shared a copy of the story in a Christmas card with a long-time friend and widow of one of Roger's professors. Unbeknownst to them, the widow forwarded it on to the University's alumni association with the suggestion that they be considered for the award. The University agreed.

“We learned in the summer that we had been named for the award,” Roger said. “It is such an honor, but we weren't sure we could travel to receive it; it depended on the babies' health.”

But, all fell into place and the couple was able to make it to Valparaiso with two of their little charges for the official ceremony. “We were quite a sight, two old, obviously senior adults, traveling with two little girls whom I dressed alike,” Corinne recalled.

The award was presented by the university president, Mark Heckler, during a Sunday morning worship service in the university's chapel, which is at the heart of the campus. “It was truly overwhelming to be able to attend, experience the chapel again, receive this award and shake hands with the university president in front of all those people,” Corinne said.

Also on hand that day was the friend who forwarded a copy of the Wellspring article to the alumni association. “She came to see us get the award, and that was very special.”