In loving memory

Michelle Wulfson | The ItemCheryl and Dean Hall showcase their donated playhouse from Superior Homes Custom. The house, which was built in the memory of Amanda Vogel, the wife of their longtime friend and framing contractor, Derek Vogel, will be included in the Parade of Playhouses for CASA of Walker, San Jacinto & Trinity Counties.

HUNTSVILLE — CASA of Walker, San Jacinto & Trinity Counties’ Parade of Playhouses is swiftly approaching, with the chance to win a playhouse that holds a special place in the hearts of local families.

In their fifth year of participating, Superior Homes Custom has dedicated this year’s CASA playhouse in the memory of Amanda Vogel, the wife of their longtime friend and framing contractor, Derek Vogel.

“It’s very special, my daughter and I are very honored for them to be doing that for us,” Derek said. “Yesterday was four months that we lost her, it feels like four years, but I’m still a little lost.”

Amanda recently passed away from uveal melanoma, a rare form of cancer in the eye, involving the iris, ciliary body or choroid. Due to the size of her tumor, her eye was removed in 2015, which helped remediate the disease. However, the cancer reemerged in 2020, having spread to her liver.

“She was a fighter,” Derek remembers. “She fought hard, but she succumbed to it July 18 of this year.”

Amanda is remembered for her loving personality, her friendly disposition, for being sweet and selfless. She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother and an educator, impacting the lives of special needs children in Magnolia School District for over 20 years.

“She really cared about those children and it showed,” Derek said, noting that while she was always philanthropic, no matter the cause, helping children always held a special place in her heart.

“When Dean and I were talking about doing the playhouse this year, I really believe that God just put it on our hearts and Amanda just came to mind,” Superior Homes Custom co-owner Cheryl Hall said. “Especially since CASA is helping children and that is what we’re doing the playhouse for, it just seemed natural for us to do it in her memory, so that was where we came up with Amanda’s Christmas Cottage.”

The exterior of the playhouse was painted blue to reflect Amanda’s favorite color, as well as the striking color of her eyes. A bright white trim accents the full-sized doorway and five windows, while a charcoal shingled roof and full electrical wiring further lends a practical element that will allow the playhouse to be used by the winning family beyond the time that their children outgrow it.

The inside will be finished with a desk and books to stay true to Amanda’s passion for education.

Cheryl estimates that the playhouse cost around $12,000 to $15,000 to build, only to be raffled off to a lucky family at just $25 per ticket for a good cause.

“We are just so excited to work with CASA again and then to do it two-fold, we’re doing this to help children and that was what Amanda did her entire life here on Earth,” Cheryl said.

CASA of Walker, San Jacinto & Trinity Counties is a nonprofit national volunteer movement dating back to 1977, providing court appointed volunteer advocates to abused and neglected children in the custody of Children’s Protective Services. All proceeds from the raffle go towards supplementing grants and funding from Texas CASA to sustain the advocate program, staffing to support volunteer advocates and training.

“I think we think of children who are in bad situations or circumstances sometimes as just being somewhere else, but they’re all around us,” Cheryl said. “When you know the people that are working there that are giving up their time, that they truly love kids and they want the best for them, it just makes it so easy to be a part of. You know that the funds are going to help these children that don’t have a voice.”

The experience of building each playhouse has always been special for the family and crews that help make the vision come true, knowing that the playhouses directly help children in the community. However, the feeling is only heightened this year, as they craft a special piece in lasting memory of their friend.

“She would be honored, and just knowing it’s going towards a good cause would just make her day,” Derek said. “It was all about the children with her, so she would be very touched. She wouldn’t want the recognition, she wasn’t that type of person, she was always worried about everybody else.”

Amanda’s Christmas Cottage will be available for viewing within the next few days at Prosperity Bank, located at 2033 11th Street in Huntsville. It will then make its way through Downtown Huntsville in the Lions Club Christmas Parade on Dec. 4 from 6:30 to 9 p.m., before the raffle drawing via Facebook Live on Dec. 15 at noon.

Raffle tickets can be purchased at the CASA of Walker, San Jacinto & Trinity Counties offices, located at 1300 11th Street, Suite No. 310, at raffle sponsor Weisner of Huntsville, located at 230 I-45, or at presenting sponsor Walker County Federal Credit Union, located at 1802 Normal Park Dr. Tickets can also be purchased via Venmo @casawst.

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