How did you learn about AFS and what prompted you to get involved?
My daughter was in eighth grade and wanted a sister! Unfortunately, I could not have any more children. One weekend, there was an ad in our church bulletin asking for host families. This was in August! I called the number and had our student a few weeks later! Those were the good old days.
What keeps you coming back to volunteer each year?
I enjoy the eight girls that we have hosted and have kept in touch with all of them. My daughter connects with all her “sisters” and is now our team hosting coordinator. We have visited our girls abroad and feel like we have a real extended family. Four of our daughters have returned to visit, some with their families.
What’s a typical volunteer “shift” like for you?
No typical shift! (Haha!). I am usually on the phone weekly with support issues. During hosting, my daughter and I review bios almost daily. I try to stay involved with all the orientations and help with sessions where needed. I coordinate the “social” activities with our coordinator. I am lucky to have a team where volunteers chair the orientations and social events, I just help with the events as needed.
What have you learned or how have you been personally affected by your experience with AFS?
I think this experience has had the most impact on our family. Having an only child, we needed siblings! I grew as a “mom” with all eight of my daughters. And it is heartwarming to know that my biological daughter has siblings from around the world. The overall hosting experience made me a better listener and opened my mind to different ways to raise children.
Please share the best or the funniest thing that’s happened to you while volunteering with AFS.
I think traveling to visit our students and their families in their home countries has been some of the most memorable and treasured times. Seeing the girls in their own environment and hearing “thank you’” from natural parents is so rewarding.
What do you want to say to people who might be interested in volunteering with AFS?
Think about volunteering as a “small commitment”…there are so many different roles where you can help with local events – it’s my job to find a volunteer role that fits your talents and available time. I would also advise prospective volunteers about the great friendships that can be made and how valuable it is to be involved with a team of volunteers.
What’s one thing AFS volunteers and staff don’t know about you?
Hmmm…I’m a pretty open book – I am an avid sports fan – Pittsburgh Steelers, OSU and especially Cleveland Indians baseball. My father was a referee and I have two sisters, so I became his “adopted” son and traveled to all his games and learned football, soccer and baseball. (My dad played for the Pittsburgh Pirates). I will be crossing off one bucket list item this spring—going to Arizona for Indians spring training!