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Reach Out from the Heart: HSF Ambassadors

December 23–27, 2013   |   Vol. 118, Programs 11–15

It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . . But what about families with heavy financial burdens? Hear how HSF has blessed homeschoolers through the Ambassador program on this week’s Home School Heartbeat. Mike Smith interviews two ladies who have seen the impact of this program in the lives of those in need.

“Our vision is to have a network of state and local volunteers who will be our voice, eyes and ears, hands and feet, in the hurting homeschool community.”—Ricci Black

This Week’s Offer

Would you like to be a tangible part of helping families in need? The Home School Foundation has a new program that lets you get your hands dirty helping fellow homeschoolers. Request a free brochure to learn about the opportunities to volunteer as an HSF Ambassador on the state or local level.

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Home School Foundation

Learn more about the charitable work of the Home School Foundation to help families homeschool through hard times, including how to give or get help.

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The book of Proverbs tells us that “a faithful ambassador brings health.” Well, today on Home School Heartbeat , learn how this is still true, as host Mike Smith talks with Ricci Black about a new program to provide ambassadors of hope to struggling families in the homeschool community.

Mike Smith: This week, I’m joined by Ricci Black, coordinator of the Home School Foundation’s Ambassador Program. Ricci, welcome to the program!

Ricci Black: Thank you Mike, glad to be on!

Mike: Ricci, would you explain the Home School Foundation Ambassador Program to us, please?

Ricci: Yes. HSF was founded in 1994 as the charitable arm of HSLDA. Each year HSF helps hundreds of needy families through the donations of caring individuals. Now, the Ambassador Program is a ministry of HSF. Our vision is to have a network of state and local volunteers who will be our voice, eyes and ears, hands and feet, in the hurting homeschool community—offering physical and financial help to those who might never apply to HSF for assistance! Our motto, in fact, is: “Many hands making a difference in your homeschool community.”

Mike: Ricci, that’s really an exciting way to reach out and help homeschoolers in need! I look forward to hearing more about specific opportunities with the Ambassador Program next time. And until then, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Ricci Black, coordinator of the Home School Foundation’s Ambassador Program, joins me again today. Ricci, last time you explained briefly the purpose of the Ambassador Program. Could you give some practical examples of what state, community, and service ambassadors might be doing?

Ricci Black: Surely. A state ambassador functions as our voice, representing HSF at conferences and large events, to introduce the program to new donors, and to identify and recruit community ambassadors.

Now community ambassadors serve as our eyes and ears at the local level. They seek out opportunities to meet needs, organize service projects, and raise funds to replenish our Compassion Fund so that we can help even more needy homeschoolers.

Service ambassadors become involved on a case-by-case basis to volunteer for service projects like yard maintenance for a new widow, meals for a family where there is illness, or even a home repair job—there are just so many different ways for ambassadors to serve according to their skills, gifts, and time availability.

Mike: Ricci, these are tremendous opportunities to truly make a difference in the lives of struggling homeschoolers. Thanks for sharing with our listeners today! And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: My guest today is Anne Miller, president of Home Educators Association of Virginia. Anne, welcome to the program!

Anne Miller: Thank you, Mike, it’s a pleasure to be here!

Mike: Anne, you coordinated a pilot project for the Virginia Home School Foundation Ambassador Program. Tell us a little about that—and what did you do, and how did you decide on a specific project?

Anne: Well Mike, as the acting community ambassador, I helped identify the family we would serve, recruited volunteers, solicited donations of goods and services, and generally coordinated the project from start to finish. I’m also a decorator, so I was able to design and coordinate the final look and feel of Leticia’s home.

To find our project family, I contacted local support group leaders. We had several candidates who were either nominated or who wrote to us themselves. And then George Lansing, the Home School Foundation’s acting ambassador, contacted the families and interviewed them to fully understand what their needs and their situations were. And, after much prayer and deliberation, we chose our family.

Mike: Well, Anne, it’s great to hear about this work that you guys did to bless this homeschool family! We’ll hear more about this project on our next program. And until then, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Anne Miller, a Home School Foundation ambassador in Virginia, joins me again today to describe a recent ambassador project she helped coordinate in the Newport News area. Anne, tell us about the impact this project had on the mom you helped.

Anne Miller: Well, Mike, I think we all felt like the little pencils God used to send his love letter to this family. When we first met Leticia, she told me she didn’t grow up in a beautiful home, but she always wanted to have one for her children. She’s a single mom on disability with limited income, and her children also have a lot of health and learning challenges, so the resources were never there. I just see that this family experienced the love and the tender care of our Lord through His servants here on earth, with the Home School Foundation providing funding and more than 40 volunteers showing up and putting in hundreds of hours, transforming the home of this dear family.

Mike: Well, Anne, tell us about the volunteers. What were some memorable moments for them?

Anne: Well, the volunteers were amazing . It was especially moving to see all the young people working together to serve another family. Not only did they do a great job, but they got to experience firsthand the blessings of giving without any expectation of a return.

Mike: Anne, this is just tremendous! Thanks for inspiring our listeners with this practical example of love for someone in the homeschool community. It’s been great to talk with you this week. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Ricci Black is with us again today to talk about how you , our listeners, can get involved with the Home School Foundation Ambassador Program. Ricci, tell us where the Ambassador Program is now, and what the needs are.

Ricci Black: Without our ambassador network, we have no way of knowing about the problems that threaten to sabotage a family’s ability to home educate. We help hundreds of families through HSF grants now, but we’d like to help thousands with our ambassador network. So, our primary need is for state and community ambassadors to apply, who will be proactive in their own states and communities.

Mike: Ricci, if people want to give or get help from the foundation, what exactly should they do?

Ricci: People may visit the homeschoolfoundation.org website, and follow the link for “give help” or “get help”—it’s as easy as that!

Mike: Ricci, thanks so much for your work with the HSF Ambassador Program! It’s been great to hear about it this week on the program! And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Ricci Black

Ricci Black is a veteran home school mom and the Ambassador Program Coordinator for the Home School Foundation (HSF). In this capacity she oversees the growth and development of the Ambassador Program, as well as doing a lot of the “on the ground” work herself. Between ambassador recruitment and training, traveling to conferences, and working with fundraising and development on the local level, Ricci manages to run her own home-based health and wellness business. And because she misses teaching at home, Ricci also substitute teaches Special Ed, which she says she enjoys because “I absolutely know I am making a difference.”

Ricci and her husband Dee (Senior Counsel for HSLDA) reside in northern Virginia. Ricci homeschooled their four children for 21 years, and now enjoys reading historical fiction, eating well, and exercising.

Anne Miller

Anne Miller is a long-time homeschool mom with a heart to serve families. For more than 21 years, she has served on the board of directors for the Home Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV), and she has been the president of the organization for 14 years. An editor, writer, and graphic designer, she directed the organization’s publications for more than 20 years and is currently their publications adviser. Anne is also an interior decorator with a passion to help families have beautiful, affordable, livable homes. She works with her husband, Jeff—a designer and builder of custom homes and additions—and speaks on a variety of homeschool and decorating topics.

Anne and Jeff live in Williamsburg and are the parents of eight always-homeschooled children (six boys and two girls, ages 14-29) and the grandparents of three adorable grandchildren.

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