Each ABC scholar has a volunteer host family from Madison with whom he spends at least one weekend each month. Typically, host families also have their own son or daughter who attend Daniel Hand High School. The ABC scholars share in their host families’ lives and activities, from raking leaves in the fall to family trips during the school year. It’s all part of getting to know each other and forming strong relationships that often endure long after the scholars graduate.
Over the last 47 years, more than 65 families in Madison have shared the unique, life-changing experience of hosting an ABC student. The Paduda family thought so much of their experience with their first host son that they hosted another. Deb Paduda says that it was exciting and amusing to get to know the students, from those awkward first host-family weekends to the comfortable shared experience of family life.
C.J. Gladstone, ABC Board member and current Student Affairs Chair, and her husband Bill were host parents for Shaquan Huntt who graduated in 2009. C.J. reminisces fondly on how Shaquan strengthened the bond to their family during his freshman year when during a ski weekend they laughed together at his surprise encounter with his first big mogul field.
Melissa Blundon, who was a host sister and later a host mom, said that “going into the experience, you don’t know quite what to expect,” but that over the course of a year “you learn to trust each other and feel confident”. Her host son, Marvin Walker (’05), is now an integral part of the family. He became like a brother to her daughters and still visits a few times a year even though he’s out of college and working.
Other families have echoed the same sentiment, saying that their host sons remain part of the family even after many years. They attend each others’ weddings, get to know each others’ kids and grandkids, and stay in touch whenever there is something important going on in the family.
If you are interested in learning more about ABC and possibly being a host family in the future, please contact us.