Congratulations to all of our host families who have been nominated by their care professionals for our annual Host Family of the Year Award! The live-in caregiver relationship is a unique one, and these families have gone over and above to not only make their care professionals feel welcome, but to encourage their professional and personal growth, as well. We are excited to announce one of this year's finalists - Danny & Grace M. & their family. Learn more about them and the impact they have made on their care professional Luisa F. (23, Neuwied, Ludwig Fresenius School), an Occupational Therapist, below:

Why do they deserve to be this year's host family of the year? Because they are simply the best! They are great friends, even better motivators and they are always there for me when I need someone to talk. They do anything and everything to make me feel at home when I miss home a little more. We can joke and laugh together, we can shed tears together, we can pray together.

When back in the matching process I got their first email I remember my exact thoughts. All it took for me was to read through their email and their profile and I thought: if this isn‘t the family for me I don‘t know who‘s going to be. And after talking to them once thankfully they felt the same way. So within a week we matched. 

When I arrived almost a year and a half ago my host parents – mainly Grace, my host mom – did everything to find me some people to befriend. I remember how she took me to a friend’s backyard barbecue two days after my arrival. And although that was a lot to take in right in the beginning I am so thankful she did it because I met some really good friends that day. My host parents always lent a helping hand and gave me support whenever I needed it. Fast forward a year and a half and Danny and Grace are now really close friends. 

When the lockdown came in March they were very understanding in saying that they‘d understand if I would rather go home than to stay a second year but I decided to stay. Our friendship is probably a big reason why I decided the way I did. Starting in May we had weekly hiking days to get out of the house which my host parents did mainly for my state of mind because they knew how much I missed the outside. Whenever there is anything I don‘t feel comfortable doing or don‘t think is fair, Grace and Danny want to hear about it. I don‘t think there has been one problem or disagreement that we couldn‘t solve. 

I am not someone who is very open with her feelings but with my host parents I feel comfortable to share the highs and the lows. We have shared a lot of laughs, quite a few tears and a lot of thoughts about pretty much everything. Grace and Danny are always very interested in any German traditions or traditions which my family has when there is a holiday and they do their best to integrate it into our busy American life. 

As much as I enjoy the little trips that I get to take now, I always look forward to going back to the house that I now get to call a second home. Of course, apart from my host parents my host kids take a huge part in that. Sometimes when I just watch them – now that the littlest addition to our family joined us in late June I can say them – my heart could burst with love. To be honest, it can be really scary sometimes how much you can learn to love someone so little. Especially Elanor who just turned three is now at a very interesting stage in her life; it is great to see her grow up. She has taught me so much! She showed me how in every struggle and hard times it is alright to cry and be frustrated as long as you don‘t give up and keep trying. It amazes me how strong such a small person can be. 

Elanor taught me how strength isn‘t any less physical than mental. The amount of strength she has to have to conquer every day is remarkable and most of her days she spends with a big smile on her face and silly ideas in her head that sometimes drive me crazy. But most days she is also my main reason to laugh. She is very resilient, loving and so patient and I am so proud of how hard she works! Right from the start instead of calling me by my name she uses the word tse-tse which means older sister in Taiwanese (her second language). 

Because Laurel is so little – she is now just over six months old – I don‘t spend as much time with her as I do with Elanor but that doesn‘t mean I love her any less. I am so thankful and grateful to Grace and Danny for sharing their children with me for these two years!