Last year we (British royalty for I) decided to participate in the Fresh Air Fund by hosting a little boy from the Bronx.
We weren't too sure of ourselves. Adding a 7th kid to the mix for a week?
But it was great. He was a terrific little kid and got along pretty well with everyone. There were a few squabbles to be sure, but it all just seemed like the usual sibling stuff that we're so used to anyway.
So when asked by the coordinator if we'd be doing it again this year?
A resounding yes.
Would we be inviting the same boy back?
A resounding yes.
If you're wondering what this program is all about, it's simple. They place children from NYC into homes in the suburbs/rural areas in NJ, PA, NY and a few other surrounding states. Most of these kids are from impoverished homes, single parent homes, or families that may be struggling in other ways. Children in the program are 6 - 13 yrs old (I think) and can stay with you for a minimum of one week. Many of the kids that have been staying with the same family for years just stay all summer b/c their host family becomes their home away from home.
The goal is to get these kids to see that there is more to life than what they see day to day in the inner cities.
When a child grows up seeing crime, violence, school drop-outs, teen pregnancies, drugs, etc, he just assumes that's how life is everywhere. By placing him or her into a home in the "country" they are exposed to a whole other way of life. They hear crickets at night instead of sirens. They feel grass under their feet instead of pavement. They see that the norm, not the exception, is to go to school, go to work, care for your family. They see that this is an attainable lifestyle, and it helps to break the cycle they seemed destined to be caught in.
I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I seem to recall that most of the kids that participate in the Fresh Air Program go on to finish school and lead productive adult lives out of the inner cities.
I think it's a very simple, very cool way to make a huge difference in the life of a child.
And you don't need to live on a farm, or in the country, just out of the city. All you have to do is meet your child when he steps off the bus, and get him back at the appointed time. He comes with a suitcase full of clothes and full instructions. You do not have to schedule fun things for him to do while he is visiting; simply allow him to fold into your normal family routine. Honestly, anyone can do it.
Yes. That means you.
Come on, you knew where I was going with this.
To that end, I just received a letter from the good people at Fresh Air asking all participating families to also become referral families. Their hope is that each family that has participated refer at least one new family so they can place another child.
So go. Get your phone. I'll wait.
Got it? Ok, now dial this number:
1-800-367-0003 x8931, and ask for Anya Korshak. Tell her you are interested in hosting a child this summer. She'll take it from there.
Or if you're more the keyboard type like me, you can e-mail her at email@example.com.
How simple is that?
And how simple to make a difference in the life of a child?
Contact the Fresh Air Fund. Do it today.
Our boy breathing in some fresh air and listening to the quiet of the country.
Here he is picking a tomato from our garden. He doesn't even like tomatoes, but he loved finding them!
Even after one week, lasting bonds were forged.
After you place the call to Fresh Air, click the brown button to vote for me. Or you can vote first and contact FAF afterwards. I'll leave it to your good judgement.
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