Host families receive more than they give

72 host familyBoth of Healing the Children AZ's co-directors, Kristin Mathews and Debra Karam, were inspired to become host parents after they read a 2005 Arizona Republic article about what the nonprofit was able to do for a boy named Patrick, who was brought to the United States for major surgery.

Kristin, an RN who had become a stay-at-home mom, said, “I thought my nursing background and my 'free time' would be a great reason to be a host parent.”
Debra, also an RN, quickly became a host mom to one boy from Iraq who required multiple surgeries after a landmine explosion, a relationship that continues to this day. “We absolutely consider Hussein to be a family member,” Debra says.

Kristin has since hosted two children from Honduras, one from Vietnam and another from Ecuador. Since returning to nursing in 2007 she has taken on many roles with HTC: In 2008 she joined the board as a member at large. In 2009 she became vice president. In 2011, she became co-director with Johanna Ricketts, who founded Healing the Children AZ in 2000.

Johanna retired from the director's job in January, remaining active with the group as host family and medical trip coordinator. So Debra, who had already been an event chair and fundraiser, stepped into the co-director slot in order to inspire others to become part of the Healing the Children Arizona team.
“Being a host parent is one of my proudest achievements, and for my husband as well,” Debra said.

Visit our web site to find out how you can donate to help a child like Hussein.
If you are interested in becoming a host family or know someone who might want to help host a child, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .