When Yelena first came from Russia to the United States as a high school exchange student, she was befriended by several homeschoolers.
“I’d never heard of [homeschooling] before,” Yelena recalls. At first, the idea of homeschooling appalled her. “Why did your parents do that to you?!” she asked her new friends. But then she noticed that these homeschoolers had a “stamp of quality” about them and how they sincerely reached out to her with love and care. Having been raised in an atheist country under communism, this made a deep impression upon Yelena.
She returned to Russia, fell in love with and married Daniel Verenchuk, and, in 2012, together with their baby, they emigrated to the US to pursue freedom for their young family. They settled in Kentucky and their family grew to include three children.
"The Right Way for Me"
Once she had children of her own, Yelena thought back to those friends during her exchange student days. “I knew homeschooling was the right way for me to approach my children’s education,” she says confidently. “I love it, in spite of how difficult it is at times.”
Part of the difficulty that the family has encountered, if only for a season, is affording the curriculum and materials they need to homeschool. Both Yelena and her husband are currently finishing college degrees themselves, paying out of pocket for a huge chunk of it. This has left them with barely enough money to cover their essentials. When Daniel was out of work in the middle of the COVID pandemic, they started to fall behind on their bills.
“It is very tough [right now],” Yelena admits. “There are no grandparents to help watch the children or assist financially.”
There is light at the end of this tunnel, however, as Daniel is back to work again and as Yelena nears graduation as a nurse practitioner when she will be able to work part-time to bring in extra income.
"How Blessed We Are!"
In the meantime, freedom-lovers like you made it possible for HSLDA to help Yelena’s family through our Compassion Curriculum Grants so that they could continue relishing in their freedom to homeschool—even in the midst of financial scarcity.
With her background, Yelena never could have imagined being where she is today, and she is thrilled by the grant she received. “I am able to give my children a Christian education. How blessed we are!” she exclaims. “Thank you for helping me make it happen. [The grant] has really encouraged me in my journey to know there are people alongside me that care. God bless you!”
The ability to choose what is best for your children is a dearly cherished freedom here in America. It’s a freedom we seek to protect—and a freedom that people will even leave their homeland to seek out elsewhere. It’s the freedom to provide the education for your children that you believe uniquely fits their interests and develops their potential. The freedom to share your faith with your children. The freedom to encourage them to pursue their dreams.
We hope Yelena’s story moves you and reminds you of the wonderful freedoms we enjoy in America. Thank you for your role, no matter how big or small, in enabling this family to live out these freedoms.
Watch the video to meet Yelena and her family!