I have grown up with a younger brother, but now in my twenties I have two younger sisters. This is what hosting feels like to me, having had the great privilege of not just being able to host one beautiful child but two. I have been a host volunteer with IOE for approximately three years now. I host 14 year old Leah and 12 year old Taniesha. Two very different young ladies; different ages, different communication methods and support needs but who share a beautiful friendship. 

I met Leah and Taniesha through the IOE recreation program several years ago. They were two gorgeous girls I instantly felt a connection with. I volunteered on recreation programs with IOE at the time but was keen to look into hosting. What drew me to hosting was the idea that you can build a stronger connection with the individual and bring them into your family. It is also more flexible and allowed me to see the girls more frequently. 

I have taken the girls out for days individually and together. I have also had Leah over for overnights at my house. Leah and Taniesha get on so well together. Leah is known as ‘Miss Leah’ when she is with us and Taniesha has built such a strong friendship with her. She is very patient and protective of Leah; she loves playing music for her, sings to her and is always right next to her. Leah also values her lovely friend. Pay attention to where Leah is looking when Taniesha is around – it is always right at her! 

Not only have I been able to build on the relationships I have with the girls but I think the thing that makes me even happier is seeing the friendship they have together. 

Hosting is such a rewarding experience. I have had so much fun with both girls and can’t wait for our next adventure together. Hosting means strengthening and growing your family – now I have two beautiful little sisters. 

– Ashleigh, IOE Host Volunteer

To find out more about the Interchange Outer East host program, click here.