Home sweet host
Last week, Woodbury resident Jerriann Jones opened her house to two "professional house guests."
Jones acted as a host family for two of the members from Up with People, which was in Woodbury last week.
Up with People, which has been in existence since 1965, brought 100 people from 19 countries. The organization travels the world doing community service projects. The current cast of Up with People ranges in age from 17 to 29 years old.
The group's mission is to unite communities through service and song.
The weeklong-stay of Up with People culminated with a multi-cultural musical performance on Thursday at East Ridge High School's Loft Stage.
Opening their home
Jones said she decided to volunteer to host Up with People cast members after having similar experiences growing up.
"In my childhood, we always hosted other people - not necessarily Up with People - but other kids," she said. "It was always fun to get to know them and I wanted to have that experience for my kids."
Her house played host to Megan Gaughn, from Colorado, and Sara Olson, from Sweden.
"Staying with host families is actually one of my favorite parts of the program," Gaughn said. "You actually get to live in the community, and you actually get to know where you're staying, so it's much more meaningful.
"People are so welcoming because they choose to open their homes, so everyone takes us with open arms."
Other people in the community opening their homes to Up with People included District 833 Superintendent Mark Porter and Woodbury City Administrator Clint Gridley.
As a host family, Jones was responsible for giving Gaughn and Olson a place to stay, providing some meals and providing transportation to and from Up with People events.
"Mainly, we're just responsible for getting to know them and welcoming them into the community," Jones said.
Jones said she was not hesitant about opening her home to Up with People, but knew of some hosts who were nervous about how their guests would behave in their home.
"These people are 'professional guests,'" Jones said. "They know how to act, so it's not going to be like somebody is moving in for a while."
Jones said having Gaughn and Jones was beneficial for her daughters as well because it allowed them to expand their worldview and meet people outside of Woodbury.
Gaughn said she enjoyed getting to know Jones and her family.
"This is my first time in Minnesota, so that's really cool," she said. "But, this is also my first host family with children, so that has been a lot of fun."
Jones said her favorite part of hosting Gaughn and Olson was being able to just sit and talk with them.
"It's fun to hear about their travels and their experiences," she said. "You get to change your routine a little."