THE GREATER PUGET SOUND AFS represents an area extending from Gray's
Harbor County in the southwest to Whatcom and San Juan counties in the northwest
of the State of Washington. It includes the major urban centers of Seattle and
Tacoma as well as the beautiful, more rural areas of the region. Puget Sound is
the heart of the area, with its pulse radiating to the Pacific Ocean, Strait of
Juan de Fuca and Straits of Georgia, and the snow-capped Cascade Mountains.
Within the Greater Puget Sound AFS area are found active AFS volunteers, community AFS chapters and clubs, AFS returnees, AFS host families, and others. All of these VOLUNTEERS comprise the AREA TEAM for the Greater Puget Sound AFS.
The activities of these volunteers are tied directly to AFS USA INTERCULTURAL PROGRAMS, an organization committed to intercultural learning and the leading student exchange program in the USA. In 1996-97, AFS volunteers from throughout the Greater Puget Sound area met, conferred, and formed the Greater Puget Sound Area Team of AFS.
By September of 1997, an AFS AREA TEAM COUNCIL was elected to run the day-to-day operations of AFS and its volunteer force. Among those elected to provide leadership in 1997 were: Le Anne Koliha (Bothell), Karen Larsen (Mukilteo), Anne Davis (Oak Harbor), David Tremaine (Lake Stevens), Kathy Ostlund (Arlington), Jennifer Nicoloff (Seattle), Kathy Rees (Woodinville), and Julie Kane (Issaquah).
AFS volunteer officers for 2000-2002 include: David Tremaine, Chair; Joan Renshaw (Lake Stevens), Treasurer; Nancy Pietila (Milton), Student/Family Support Coordinator; Kathy Rees (Woodinville), Student/Family Orientations Coordinator; Heidi Cook (Bellevue), Hosting Coordinator; Anne Davis (Seattle), Sending Coordinator; Steve Balaski and Sarah Hiller (Seattle), Volunteer Coordinators; Victor Chung (Lynnwood), Publicity Coordinator. Other members of the Council (and local chapter presidents) are Heidi Elston (Sequim), Barta Scott (Aberdeen), Elena Guilfoil (Olympia) and Diana Hale (Lake Stevens).
The AFS Area Team - all AFSers in the area - meets annually (usually the first Saturday in April). The governing Council meets 4-5 times each year to carry out the program of AFS.
The AFS REGIONAL SERVICE CENTER, located in Portland, Oregon, provides the Area Team with staff support. AFS program staff work closely with the volunteers to help ensure students and families in the Greater Puget Sound area become active participants in AFS. The Area has great pride in being considered by Washington schools the number one program for students wishing to spend a year or semester abroad. The Area often sends more students on exchanges than it hosts!
Students from abroad are also anxious to be hosted in our area. AFS volunteers seek, throughout the year, qualified families to participate in the AFS hosting adventure. As the American family has changed, so has the AFS "typical" family. Today's families include single parent homes, "empty nesters," and young families. AFS welcomes families who wish to provide intercultural learning opportunities for young adults (and even teachers!) Local volunteers provide families and students support throughout the hosting time period.
As alluded to, AFS in the Greater Puget Sound is a VOLUNTEER-DRIVEN organization. You are cordially invited to inquire about volunteer opportunities with us. Outstanding AFS volunteers in our area - and recipients of the Dean Esterbrooks AFS Volunteer Leadership Award - include Ann Lawrence (Seattle AFS Council leader), 1999 and Thom and Heidi Henderson (Olympia AFS Chapter leaders), 2000. The award is in honor of Esterbrooks who dedicated much of his life to AFS volunteer work in Puyallup and the south sound area.
Contact any of the officers or local leaders named above, or e-mail us and we'll get back to you about AFS program or volunteer opportunities! It's a wonderful way to work for peace and understanding in our diverse world, and it affirms our faith in the dignity and worth of every human being.
David Tremaine, Area Team Chair
Greater Puget Sound AFS Council