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YFU Blog - Recent stories about Youth for Understanding

Marcy Werness - Volunteer and Host Mom - Minnesota


Duties: Area Representative, American Student Coordinator and more...

Uncommon Committment

This August, Marcy Werness will be celebrating her 30th year as a volunteer with YFU.

Marcy and her husband Ron started their journey with YFU in 1979 when they decided to host their first exchange student, Stephon from Germany.  Stephon was the first of more than thirty students that shared the Werness home.  In 1981, in addition to hosting, Marcy decided to start volunteering with YFU as an Area Representative.  She worked directly with students and host families from the student selection process, to welcoming that student at the Minneapolis airport, to conducting monthly check-ins, to attending orientations.  Marcy wanted to make sure her students had the experience of a lifetime and if they or their families needed anything, she was there every step of the way.

In addition to those responsibilities, Marcy became an Area Coordinator where she mentored new volunteers to YFU.  She taught her new recruits to be patient, love and understand the teenagers we were working with, to help counsel during the tough times and support them. Marcy understood that these students are future leaders. She recognized the importance of providing a global perspective. She also absolutely adored the students, the host families and the new volunteers that joined the YFU ranks.  Marcy is also the Coordinator for the American Overseas program for Minnesota students who want to discover the world by going on exchange with YFU.

Marcy holds many "official" roles with YFU; however what impresses me the most is what I witnessed at the airport last August.  As the exchange students arrive into Minneapolis, about 150 each year, Marcy greets every one of them and their host families at the airport.  She wants each child when they arrive to MN to know that someone from YFU is excited they are here.  She wants every family to know that YFU is here for them.  Sometimes Marcy arrives at 6:00 AM and doesn't go home until after midnight and this goes on the entire month whether there are twenty students flying that day or just one.  They all matter to her.  I learned that come this August, it will be Marcy's 30th year of greeting kids at the airport.  At age forty-one, it was easier to get around but a lot has changed over three decades.  At age seventy-one, parking and walking can be a bit more challenging but that doesn't stop Marcy.  I'm currently working with the parking company at the Minneapolis International Airport to make Marcy an honorary employee during the month of August so she will have parking privileges.

Marcy Werness has set the gold standard for volunteering. Her undeniable contributions to YFU, Minnesota, and countless exchange students are immeasurable and larger-than-life.

Written by Robyn Lee-Dobbs, Field Director (Heartland District)

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