We have many wonderful volunteers who dedicate their time and talents to AFS. In honor of Volunteer Appreciation Month, AFS GPS would like to spotlight and publicly thank one of our outstanding volunteers!
Heidi Cook is a longtime AFS volunteer. She became active in volunteering in 1993, when her daughter went on exchange with AFS to Switzerland. She has been a host mom to many AFS students, and a host-grandma as well, since her daughter has also hosted 5 AFS students! Heidi is a very active hosting volunteer, taking a lot of time to get to know and understand the host families, what they are hoping to get out of the hosting experience, and what kind of student they would enjoy most through phone conversations, email, and the host family interview. Heidi also takes the time to read students’ applications in depth, to get to know them as well as possible before they even arrive in the US on program! Heidi strives to make host family-student matches based on personality, shared hobbies and interests, and values. Heidi facilitates many wonderful matches between host families and students every year in Greater Puget Sound, and even a few in our neighboring AFS territory, Columbia Pacific.
Heidi’s family has a lot of admiration for her passion for AFS. Heidi’s husband, Rich, shared that, “She is never interested in just making a placement. She impresses me with her dedication to AFS and it’s mission and trying to make sure the host families have a great experience so that they’ll host again and again. She spends an incredible amount of time working AFS issues even when we’re driving cross country or on vacation. It’s really a full-time volunteer job.”
Heidi finds deep satisfaction and accomplishment in making great, life-long matches families and students. Heidi shared this hosting success story as an example of how lasting the host family-student can be:
One host family had three daughters, and they wanted to host a boy. They selected a boy called Christian from Denmark in 2007. Tim told me that if one of their daughters had been a son, they would have named him Christian. Christian has been back to visit multiple times and the family has been to Denmark for Christian’s brother’s wedding. I love the life-long relationships that are made with your AFS student, and the other AFS students who are friends of your hosted student.
Heidi, thank you for your ongoing and long-lasting commitment to AFS. We are grateful for you choosing to share your time, energy, passion, and talent for making great host family-student matches that last a lifetime.