Local Au Pair is a Finalist for the Cultural Care’s 2023 Au Pair of the Year Contest

 Meet Maria. According to her employer, Kristen Gittins, Maria truly is one most giving and humble people you could hope to meet. She is also a finalist in the Cultural Care’s 2023 Au Pair of the Year Contest. The Gittins family would like to tell the Ann Arbor area a bit more about Maria and why she would be a truly deserving recipient of the award. 

Getting to Know Maria

Maria has worked for the Gittins family for several years. Together, they have created cherished memories and lifelong friendships. According to Gittins, Maria has gone above and beyond her role as au pair to become a true part of the family. Gittins states, “We share nightly meals together and hang out when the kids go to bed, whether it be playing a board game altogether or just chatting about our day or life challenges…She acts as an older sister to the boys even when not on duty. She is a wonderful, fun housemate and excellent caregiver.  From a cultural exchange perspective, she frequently shares her [Austrian] culture with our family – she teaches the boys German language, songs, and traditions and shares cultural differences and delicious foods.” 

Maria is passionate about making a difference in the world, and this shows in the impact she has had both within and outside of the Gittins family. For example, the family describes how Maria’s care for the environment has influenced their daily lives. They have become more eco-friendly and are working on reducing their meat consumption because of Maria’s influence. Maria has also supported the local community through her volunteer work at a nonprofit music venue. 

Currently, Maria is planning to use her caregiving skills, intelligence, and work ethic in a new adventure. She plans to become a physician and has been accepted to eight different medical schools in Germany. After graduation, Maria hopes to travel on medical missions to Africa. 

Cultural Care’s 2023 Au Pair of the Year Contest

Kristen Gittins loves having Maria as an au pair for her children. To honor their time together, she wrote an honest and effusive letter to nominate Maria to be the Cultural Care’s 2023 Au Pair of the Year. From over 600 au pairs, Maria has been selected as one of 11 finalists- a big achievement! If Maria receives the most votes, she will win a travel voucher to fly back to visit the Gittins family next year. The family feels that this honor would also make her remaining time with their family more special and help Maria know how much she is appreciated. 

How to Support Maria

In her nomination letter, Kristin Gittens paints a picture of an outstanding and beloved caregiver. She writes, “

With the birth of our third child in December 2022, Maria has been critical to a smoother transition for our boys’ adding another child to our family.  She is a true gem, and her time with us will be cherished forever. We have dressed up for Halloween as a family together, vacationed in Florida, taken road trips, and even “glamped” in a renovated school bus. Maria has shared her Austrian culture with our family with numerous traditions… She instills good morals in our children and has a heart of gold. We love her!”

It is clear that Maria is a truly deserving au pair. If you’d like to support Maria, you can vote for her at http://wshe.es/F3N4ei4g. This is a very simple and quick two-step process. And remember, every vote counts! 

Author: Alyssa Whitford is a former K-12 teacher and current professor of education at Hope College in Holland, MI. She is passionate about literacy, social studies, and all things elementary! She is also a proud parent to two children.