Thank you, Dick and Jill
The FIUTS community is sad to say farewell to longtime homestay hosts and all-around amazing volunteers Jill Paaso and Dick Koontz. They will be embarking on a new international adventure, leaving Seattle and moving to Romania.
Dick and Jill began hosting for FIUTS in the late 90's and since then have welcomed well over 100 FIUTS students into their home for short-term homestays, as well as countless more for Thanksgiving dinners - not to mention all of the parties and events that they organized themselves around holidays and special occasions. Jill served on the FIUTS Board of Trustees, and Dick was famous for his delicious contributions to our Community Potlucks and his grilling skills at the annual community barbecue (and also his incredible hats). They have generously donated to our programs and provided a welcoming, compassionate home away from home for international visitors from all over the globe - we always knew we could count on them to jump in and help whenever needed. So many students, staff, and fellow volunteers in our community think of them as family.
To recognize their incredible contribution to FIUTS over the years, we've collected photos and messages of gratitude from just a few of the many, many students Dick and Jill have hosted over the years. Read the messages below, and feel free to add your own in the comments.
On behalf of the FIUTS family, thank you, Dick and Jill, for everything you have done to show compassion and hospitality to so many visitors from around the world. Your kindness makes the world a better place.
Messages from Dick and Jill's host students:
"I really wanna say thank you to them. When I first arrived in Seattle four years ago alone, they picked me up at the airport and I lived with them about one week. I really appreciated their help at that time. And when I graduated, my parents did not come here to attend my graduation commencement, but they represented my parents to attend it. They said, don't worry Sunny, we will always support you. In Seattle, they are like my parents and let me have the feelings of family. That's really nice. I've already heard they are gonna leave Seattle, I hope they will have a good trip in the future and I will miss them all the time. Thanks to provide this opportunity to say thank you to them. They helped a lot of international students when they first arrived here. This is really helpful and let us feel warm." - Sunny (China)
Sunny and Jill in Jill's fancy car!
"Dick and Jill were the nicest people I have met in my life. They were home to me in Seattle and I cannot thank enough for what they have done for me. I still remember everything – from joyful holiday parties with many host students to casual weekend meals they fed me like one of their children. They even warmly greeted my mom who visited Seattle for the first time! I will cherish every moment we have been together and hope the very best for their new life in Romania. Dick and Jill, thank you and love you so much! I will see you two in Romania!" -Love, Yerin Kim (South Korea)
Yerin with Dick and Jill
"Living with Dick and Jill was so amazing that I felt I was home though I was away from my real home back in Rwanda. They are very humble and they helped me make the most out of the few days I had in Seattle. I love you Jill & Dick; may you find the same kindness you offered me everywhere you go." -Jean Bosco (Rwanda)
Jean and Jill
"Jill and Dick are some of the most amazing people I have met in the states. They are extremely helpful and friendly and made me feel like I have another family here since day one. I’m blessed
to have them as my host parents." - Yi Chao Chow (Malaysia)
"Dick and Jill helped me settle into my grad housing when i first came to Seattle. After my first year, they helped me move to family housing when my wife and daughter joined me in Seattle. They helped me setup and house, buy furniture from Ikea and get the kitchen up and running! I invited them for my graduation and they also had a graduation party for me at their house. Dick and Jill, i am very grateful for help, guidance and your loving nature. You have a special place in my heart. You made my stay in Seattle very special. At no point did i feel i had no one to turn to. They were like my parents in Seattle. I wish you all the best for your future. I wish our path cross again." - Naveen (India)
Dick and Jill visiting Naveen in India
"Dear Jill and Dick, your house is my first home and you are my family members from the first day when I arrived in Seattle. Thank you so much for all the help and support you provided. I am very lucky to know you and I will miss you two a lot! What am I going to do without you for Halloween?" - Jessica Sun (China)
"I still remember vividly 6 years ago when I first landed at the SEATAC airport (first time for me in the U.S. as well), I saw Uncle Dick was holding a piece of cardboard high up in the air, with my name written on it. Never have I ever imagined that I am the luck ones–Jill and Dick became my 2nd parent in a foreign country, and without a doubt, they are the best host parents I could ever asked for. Jill and Dick organized various events such as potluck, BBQ party, Dim Sum trip, Christmas gift giving throughout the year even after the initial 1st week of hosting, helping me to better understand the local culture and enriching my experience as an international student throughout the 4 years. Thanks again, Aunty Jill and Uncle Dick. Have a safe trip and I look forward to meeting you both in Malaysia this December!" -Chip (Malaysia)