In August 2000, I was a sixteen year old exchange student, arriving to spend a school year in America, but not having a host family to stay with. Luckily on that day, Abigail Taunton picked me up at the Panama City airport. At that moment I did not know that my stay in America would stretch to seven years, that I would become a part of the Taunton family, and that the Taunton House would not just shelter me, but nurture my values, and be a place where my most unrealistic dreams became a reality.
I came to America from Kyrgyzstan, an impoverished, former Soviet Republic. The exchange program had trouble finding a place for me to stay, until they turned to the Abigail and David Taunton. Upon my arrival to the Taunton House, I found many kids with sad life stories and broken hearts. Throughout my stay at the House, I saw how lives were changed, how we were growing into responsible citizens and nice people with fundamental values of love and appreciation for one another.
While at the Tauntons I worked hard on my school studies, secretly dreaming of getting a university education in the United States. They saw my efforts and potential, and offered me help in pursuing the university studies in America. This was a dream come true. I felt very special; these people were willing to sacrifice their time, efforts, money, so that a girl from far away realizes her dream. And so it happened, I got into a college, and then a university; the Tauntons mobilized all the resources they had in order to help with paying for my tuition.
Barely believing my fortune, my parents were asking, why would someone sacrifice so much for a person that they barely knew; I was wondering what makes me so special. Throughout the years that I spent at the Taunton House, I witnessed how their unconditional love was changing children’s lives. Then I realized, that it wasn’t me who was special, it was the Taunton House—a special place, where every child is seen as what can become of him. Just as Tauntons provided me with their support and encouragement, they shared their personal space, all their time and energy to ensure that every child at the House feels at home in a family and has everything necessary to realize oneself to the full potential.
One can only imagine how can Mrs. Abby and Mr. David find time for every child; it is their bottomless hearts that love every one of them. They are people who are not afraid of responsibility, who believe that a good environment and sincere understanding and encouragement can fundamentally change lives. They are hardworking people, and they lead by example.
To me the Taunton House is a place where some of my values formed, and where my dreams come true, it is such a place for many other children as well. But it is also a place where kids come in different situations, and where through personal struggles they find themselves.
At the Taunton Family Children’s Home my life was changed in the direction I could only dream of; this family has impacted me so deeply that throughout my life I try to positively impact the people around me. These are the people with strong values and a desire to help others.
Ulya continues to be involved as a financial supporter of the Home. She now resides in Moscow as her husband's work is there presently. She has two beautiful young girls and is a blessing to the Home. We were blessed to share in her life.