German au pair Alex Krosse with his host children Ilo and Leon.
The International Au Pair Association (IAPA) recognizes one young person each year who embodies the hard work, compassion and spirit it takes to be a great au pair. IAPA’s “Au Pair of the Year” is chosen from hundreds of host family submissions all over the world—so it is especially exciting for us to learn that a Cultural Care au pair—Alex Krosse, from Germany—was picked as one of their three finalists.
Of course, it is no surprise that Alex caught their attention. Alex’s host dad, Ed Urbaniak, submitted a nomination that left our many readers here in the Cultural Care Au Pair office in tears. We congratulate Alex for a job well done and invite you to read Ed’s letter.
In February, after several years counting on au pairs for our child care, it was time for us to select a new au pair. Our family was dealing with some challenges. So, I made sure to take extra care with our selection. Our sons are adopted. Our older son (Leon) has a learning disability. Our younger son (Ilo) would be starting kindergarten. My spouse (Erwin) had stage IV lung cancer. With a spouse ill with cancer, I knew how important it was to have a reliable au pair that could be flexible in with our changing needs.
When we were introduced to Alex, he had finished a year with another family and was staying with his local coordinator in San Francisco. His previous family and the coordinator recommended him highly, but there is always concern when selecting a new au pair. After exchanging emails, phone calls and Skyping with Alex, we had a local friend meet him for a cup of coffee. Alex seemed like he would have the experience and personality that we needed.
Alex arrived on an evening flight and I met him at the airport with the kids. We went out for a traditional German meal to give him a taste of home that he hadn’t had for a while. It was the weekend and I got him settled into his new room. Everything seemed about the same as our past au pair experience. He was polite and asked appropriate questions.
The next day, I was going to the grocery store. This was my first of many pleasant surprises with Alex. He asked if he could join me—a first in my au pair experience. He was helpful at the store and even helped bring the groceries in and put them away. He immediately felt more like a long-lost relative than a stranger in our home.
It was over the next several months with my spouse’s health failing that I realized how much a part of our family Alex was. Less than two weeks after Alex’s arrival, I awoke at midnight to Erwin having trouble breathing. I later learned that he was having a Grand Mal Seizure. I called 911. Alex had heard the commotion and came to see how he could help. Without my asking, he said, “Don’t worry about the kids. I have them—just text me with an update when you have one.” I was amazed how Alex just jumped in. He was so concerned. I don’t think he slept that night.
Alex was with us less than 4 months when Erwin passed. During the Eulogy, I made a point to count the blessings God had bestowed upon our family. Alex is one of those blessings. I have checked his back for the wing-stubs that all aspiring angels must have.
Over the next few months, Alex has done his duties without prompting. He has also pitched in to help in areas that I don’t consider the duties of an au pair. He took my kids to my Mother’s house to give me a much-needed respite from my new duties as single parent. He has helped with the shopping, cooking and cleaning. After Thanksgiving, Alex was excited to help with my extensive Christmas display. He pitched in on his time without my asking.
Alex has not only become a true member of my family, he has also become a member of the community. He is a volunteer fire fighter in our community. He has also volunteered with meals on wheels.
Certainly, there are many good au pairs out there. We have had several. This is my first nomination for an “Au Pair of the Year.” This nomination isn’t for someone who has done his job. It is for someone who has joined our family and became a true friend during a time of need.
We also invite you to meet the rest of our “Au Pair of the Year nominees” including our own three finalists and state winners. After reading the praise of other host families across the U.S. you might agree they all deserve to win!