But this wasn’t the first either of them had volunteered at Outreach! They didn’t realize it, but before they met in 2004, Tammy had volunteered for many years, in the Mentoring and Big Buddy program for 8 to 14 year-olds beginning in the 90s. Rob, on the other hand, was once a dorm ‘parent’ at WYO’s boy’s home as a (very) young man in the 80s after graduating from Wheaton College! All those years’ later, recalling how, “the Ellerman’s (Chris and Carlene) were a big encouragement those three years – a big influence for sure”. It is uncanny how things fall into place.
Since they moved back to Wheaton, both Rob and Tammy have been very involved in God’s work, coordinating mission trips, elders in their church – even opening their home to those in need on occasion. They knew this endeavor was what they were called to do, with Rob sharing, “If you live the life of faith, when God gives you opportunities, you just step into it. It really is obedience – that’s what we’re supposed to do and trust that God will do his thing. Sometimes we expect that God is going to give you something really challenging, but in this case is was surprisingly easy.”
Rob continued, “Some people may think that this would be a huge disruption, but what I found out was that it was not a disruption at all, but something we really enjoyed.” Tammy added, “We just looked forward to hanging out and watching Project Runway and The Voice – and how normal it was.” Meg giggles in agreement and quickly adds, “and Fried Rice Fridays!”
The transition for Meg to her new ‘home’ was simple for her. “It was easier to come into their home because I knew them. They have a huge heart for people they don’t even know. I love that they invite people into their home.” And although Rob was worried, she might be lonely after leaving Hawthorne House, she corrected him by saying, “It was great, because I got all the attention!”
When reflecting on this chapter of her life, Meg shared, “I’ve learned that your family doesn’t have to be related to you or look like you.” “I’ve learned how to ask for help now. I didn’t want to feel vulnerable and have learned that its not a big deal.”
Outreach welcomes everyone to consider becoming a host family. The commitment is 6 to 14 months. The Lewis’ had very positive experience, Rob mentioning that they had, “full support, training and education going into this, knowing we had that support system in place from the entire organization was huge for us,” Tammy noted, “Sharing your life with someone you wouldn’t necessarily cross paths with and learn about their background and how very different worlds can be. It expands our lives to have someone come in your life now and it’s bigger because of you.”
Meg recently moved into her own apartment. She attends Wheaton Bible Church, holds down three jobs and is taking courses at College of DuPage. She is very creative and dreams of becoming a television writer. She is hopeful when she states that “after what I’ve been through. I would love to do this for others some day.” If she ever gets lonely at her new place, she can look to those strong friendships she developed at Hawthorne who she says, “feel like sisters.” And, of course, the Lewis’ will be there for her, commenting, “I feel like they will be in my life forever.” – And, let’s not forget ‘Fried Rice Fridays!’
*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual.
The Vision for The Host Family Ministry
- In 2020: Recruit, train and engage five host families; three for young women and two for young men
- For More Information: please contact Vanessa Roth at firstname.lastname@example.org