Host Family of the year 2024 – Winner

Winner of the 2024 Apex Host Family of the Year Award

My name is Ann-Sophie, I am 23 years old, and I completed my bachelor’s degree in social work in Germany. I have been in the USA as a care professional since August 2023 and live with my host family near Boston, MA.

My host family is a family of five and each of them is incredibly special in my eyes. I love living and working with Laura’s family and could not be happier with my match. We started our interview process in March 2023 and after just two conversations within a week it was clear that it just fits between us. We matched and were in regular contact from then on until I finally arrived super nervous in August. I had a lot of worries and thoughts in my head, but as soon as my host mother gave me a hug at the airport, they were forgotten. Everyone in my host family made my arrival amazingly easy and I was warmly welcomed from the very first moment.
I would like to tell you more about my host family below and show you what makes them so special to me.
I would like to start with my host mom. Laura is a very caring and friendly person who always has an open ear for me. She is very interested in all my experiences, thoughts and feelings and is always happy to help and advise me. It is very important to her that the people around her are doing well, even when she is tired from long days and short nights, she puts her heart and soul into looking after and caring for the people she loves – including me. My host mom is a super strong power woman and a real dragon mom who will do anything for her family. She is very patient, and conflicts or problems are always solved at eye level and with communication (not that we have ever had one!). Laura is so much more to me than just an employer. She is my host MOTHER at the right moments and cares about me and my needs and has become a good friend with whom I can talk about anything. I would definitely say that our relationship goes far beyond that of an employment relationship – she makes me feel like I am part of her family from the bottom of her heart.

Dave, my host dad, works a lot and travels a lot for work. Nevertheless, the little free time he has is family time for him. In my eyes, he attaches great importance to his family and wants everyone – including me – to be well. His first question to me when we see each other is always how I am doing or how my day was. And you can tell he really cares, and the question comes from heart. When I was ill, Dave went to the pharmacy late at night and got me some medication, even though he was not feeling well too. When he is tired, he still cares about my well-being. If he has had a long, exhausting day, it is still important for him to always emphasize how much he appreciates my work, help and support. He is caring and honest, with his heart in the right place.

Hadley is just six years old, and the smartest, most helpful, and caring child I know. When it comes to her siblings, she cares with all her heart for their well-being. When Alden cries, she makes him laugh straight away. If he drops something, she picks it up for him. When he asks for an item, she is the first to try to find it out and give it to him. If someone has questions about Alden, she explains in such a loving way why he is „different“. If you cannot go straight to her because Alden needs help, she is understanding and patient. She is definitely the most wonderful big sister you could wish for the two boys. Hadley also helps me a lot when I do not understand something and always knows how to paraphrase a word so that I understand what she means. She is joyful, loves to rhyme or tell jokes, is creative (we have an art show every evening) and full of life. What makes me happiest is when she gives me a big, energetic Hadley-Ann-Sophie hug and tells me that I am like a big sister to her. My heart blossoms every time!

Alden is four years old, has special needs and is the happiest child I know with the biggest and most beautiful smile. When he looks at you and laughs, the world feels better every time. You feel special and like it is just for you. He is so smart and even though he is non-verbal, he has a lot to say and knows exactly how he gets his will. He is a fighter and shows us every day how strong he is. If there is one thing I have learned from him, it is to be happy, enjoy every moment and live in the here and now – because that’s exactly what Alden does every day. I am very proud and so happy to be able to spend every day with him. He is such a loving little boy and shows you his love in his own unique way. His hugs and wet kisses, along with his smile and joyful squeals, are the highlight of my day. I could go on and on about Alden’s loving, happy nature, but nothing does him justice – you have to get to know him! He loves boats, flags, and Curios George. His absolute favorite person is his Grandpa Tango and there is nothing better for Alden than being on the little blue sailboat with him.

With just two months, there is not much we can say about Blake, but one thing is for sure: he already has an adorable smile and is a happy little baby – as we lovingly call him: Baby Boy or chunky monkey.

This family (and besides these five lovely people, also the grandparents, siblings, and everyone, really EVERYONE who belongs to this family) is just so incredibly appreciative, interested and always willing to help. They made me feel at home from the very first moment and welcomed me into their family. And not just me: not so long ago, another care professional had problems and my host parents did not wait a moment before offering her the chance to stay with us. I got more time off to spend time with her and be there for her. And as it was just before Thanksgiving, there was no question of her being allowed to spend the day with us. My host father’s entire family fully understood that she was spending the day with us and welcomed her completely, as if she simply were part of the family for the day.

I am also allowed to have friends visit me here. In addition to regular visits from other care professionals, a friend from Germany visited me in November and was allowed to stay with us. In March, my boyfriend from Germany came to stay with us and when there were problems with his flight, he was allowed to stay longer and go on a skiing weekend with us. My family is coming at the end of March and are invited to spend Easter with us and to save money while they want to visit Cape Cod, my host family has made their house available to them. All of this is not to be taken for granted and clearly shows how helpful and special my host family is.

The family also supports me in my professional development and gives me the opportunity to grow and learn new things. I am allowed to participate in my host child’s therapies, and I am asked for feedback when it comes to various decisions regarding the kids. I have been able and allowed to learn a lot and I am incredibly grateful for the trust my host family has placed in me.

I hope I was able to give you an impression of why this family deserves the Host Family of the Year award. I would also like to take this opportunity to emphasize once again how grateful and lucky I am to have this host family and for everything they do for me.
I came to the US for a job and instead I made friends and became part of a family! This is worth so much more than I could have ever imagined what I can take away from this time.

Host Family of the year 2024 – Winner