We had the good fortune of connecting with Virginia Hinkle and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Virginia, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business? Dragons Care’s mission is to support the teachers, staff, and School Resource Officers (SRO’s) of Carroll Independent School District as they walk through personal hardships brought on by illness, injury or family tragedy. We exist to serve, support and love our staff in their time of need as they care for our children on a daily basis in our public school district.
Our hope is that by strengthening parent-staff relations, it will bring unity within our school district and demonstrate to the CISD staff how much our community truly values them.
In addition, it is our intention that the outpouring of community involvement and support towards the staff of Carroll ISD will also increase retention and recruitment of excellent staff for the school district, an important component in providing a high-quality educational experience for students.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work. I can look back at my life now and see that every single step that I have taken has lead me to this point. My mother and sister were both teachers and I respected them so much for the work that they did on a daily basis to help their students. They inspired me. As for myself, when I was a child, I received the Gold Congressional Award at the U.S. Capitol, which recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth. Then when I graduated from Baylor University, I went on to work at the non-profit Habitat for Humanity. I started off as an Assistant Volunteer Coordinator and worked my way up to my dream job in Development. In that job I was able to learn event planning, marketing, Photoshop, business management, fundraising and I was the liaison the Board of Directors. Then I moved out to the Southlake area with my husband and I started volunteering and was eventually hired at Gateway Church in the children’s department teaching and coordinating lessons. It was there that my heart for teachers grew even stronger. Then I became a full-time mom and stayed at home with my kids.
Ever since my children entered Carroll ISD, I have seen needs and tried to fill them, giving back as much as I can. Along the way, I have learned how to say no to the things I am not called to, creating healthy boundaries for myself and allowing others the opportunity to step up and lead. I did not set out to start a non-profit. All I did was reach out on social media when I heard that someone from my kid’s school was sick from Covid in September of 2020. I heard back from the individual and they were very ill. I rallied a group of people together and we started praying for the family and bringing them meals. Thankfully, she survived and we threw her a welcome home front door drop off when she returned home from the hospital. When I came home that night, I turned to my husband and said, “we may go broke, but I think we are supposed to help people who get sick in our school community.” I’ll never forget this, but he looked at me and said “well if you think you are called to do this, then let’s do it until we can’t anymore.” From there a crew of 10 parents came together, which grew to 86 by the end of the year. We helped families and teachers that became sick, we assisted staff members when they had flood damage from the winter freeze storm and we raised funds for our cafeteria manager when she was diagnosed with breast cancer to help pay some of her medical bills. In that school year alone we raised around $13,000.
The next year, our family moved to a different part of Southlake and friends from that elementary school asked if I would start the same group there and I did. It was a really hard year for the staff and it was exhausting, but being able to be there for others when they truly needed it was very special. Staff members walked through illnesses, grief and injuries and we walked alongside them. Together, we were able to raise over $26,000 at just one school in just one school year. So naturally, the other parents from different schools in the district wanted to help their staff as well and Dragons Care was birthed. It has taken us a full year to become an official charity. None of it was easy, but none of it happened overnight either. I can see now, looking back, that God had laid a path for me to learn and grow each step of the way. And even through the hard times, missteps and mistakes, I learned a lot. I want the world to know that even though things are challenging in public education, there are good people out there that love and want to support those called to be in education. And at Dragons Care we will support all educators, bus drivers, custodians, staff, administrators, School Resource Officers, etc district-wide starting in the Fall of 2023. And we can’t wait to show them how truly appreciated and loved they are by our community.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc. In Southlake, I would say the Southlake Town Square for shopping, Evo Entertainment for a movie night/bowling and games, and the Champions Club for working out and playing sports – plus if they brought their kids they have giant slides. I have too many favorite restaurants, but let’s see Stella Ristorante Italiano, Ferah Tex Med, Armends and Sushi Zen/Sushi Dojo. (My family’s weekly staples are Gloria’s, McAllisters, & Jersey Mikes though 🙂
And if I was going to come in to Dallas, I would want to take them to Klyde Warren Park, the Perot Museum, AT&T Performing Arts and my favorite restaurant Javiers. In Fort Worth, you’ve got to hit up Joe T. Garcia’s and the stockyards!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition? At Dragons Care we are an entire team and the organization would not exist if we did not come together as a community to support this mission. I am not alone in this effort. There are hundreds of advocates and dozens of parent, community and staff volunteers that all come together to make this non-profit operate successfully. We are a village and only together can we support the entire district.
I could not have achieved any of my goals without the support of my wonderful husband Roth, my two kids, Audrey and Charlotte and my parents who taught me how to give generously with both my time and resources to others in need.
And lastly, but most importantly, I have to thank God for guiding me every single step of the way. Every good idea I have ever come up with for this organization has originated out of a time of prayer and worship. I am confident in what I am doing because I know I am called to serve and love in the this capacity.
*Shoutout DFW | May 16, 2023 | shoutoutdfw.com