When I was a backpacking guide we had some running jokes, they were from some awesome weeks when we got to work with kids that came from inner city neighborhoods into the wilderness for a week. Some of the jokes went something like this, "Hey, at what altitude do deer turn into elk?" Truthfully, some kids did ask these questions but when we shared those jokes it was with a warm heart full of love for the kids who said it. You know why? Because they were incredible. For many of them it was the first time they had ever been out of the city, had ever been surrounded by just trees, had ever slept in a tent....Many started out scared to death not sure what to do in this new environment but after a day or two...the walls came down. They leapt and played and climbed and began to share story after story about life back in the city...some beautiful things and some heartbreaking things. Watching these kids soak life in the outdoors for the first time was incredible, hearing them talk at the end of the week about how it had given them new perspective, a new desire to do something different with their life was so incredibly humbling.
So why am I writing about this? Because there is this incredible program called The Fresh Air Fund and this is what they do! They help kids who are living in poverty in the middle of giant cities get away, get some fresh air, get some perspective. Check it out:
The Summer of 2011 is here! The Fresh Air Fund is in need of 850 loving host families.
We are looking for families in the following areas to host THIS summer:
All Northeastern States and Canada
If you or someone you know is able to host, please sign up now. In 2010, The Fresh Air Fund's Volunteer Host Family program, called Friendly Town, gave close to 5,000 New York City boys and girls, ages six to 18, free summer experiences in the country and the suburbs. Volunteer host families shared their friendship and homes up to two weeks or more in 13 Northeastern states from Virginia to Maine and Canada.
Thanks to host families who open up their homes for a few weeks each summer, children growing up in New York City’s toughest neighborhoods have experienced the joys of Fresh Air experiences.
More than 65% of all children are reinvited to stay with their host family, year after year.
Fresh Air Fund Host Families
"It is rewarding to see the smile on our Fresh Air child's face as she enjoys the simple things we take for granted..."
Friendly Town host families are volunteers who live in the suburbs or small town communities. Host families range in size, ethnicity and background, but share the desire to open their hearts and homes to give city children an experience they will
never forget. Hosts say the Fresh Air experience is as enriching for their own families, as it is for the inner-city children. There are no financial requirements for hosting a child. Volunteers may request the age-group and gender of the Fresh Air youngster
they would like to host. Stories about real Fresh Air host families and their New York City visitors are just a click away!
learn more about becoming a host or call (800) 367-0003!
Fresh Air Children
"We made s'mores and hot dogs over the fire. I've never cooked outside before!"
Fresh Air children are boys and girls, six to 18 years old, who live in New York City. Children on first-time visits are six to 12 years old and stay for either one or two weeks. Youngsters who are re-invited by the same family may continue with The Fund through age 18, and many enjoy longer summertime visits, year after year. A visit to the home of a warm and loving volunteer host family can make all the difference in the world to an inner-city child. All it takes to create lifelong memories is laughing in the sunshine and making new friends.
The majority of Fresh Air children are from low-income communities. These are often families without the resources to send their children on summer vacations. Most inner-city youngsters grow up in towering apartment buildings without large, open, outdoor play spaces. Concrete playgrounds cannot replace the freedom of running barefoot through the grass or riding bikes down country lanes.
Fresh Air children are registered by more than 90 participating social service and community organizations located in disadvantaged neighborhoods in the five boroughs of New York City. These community-based agencies are in close contact with children in need of summer experiences in rural and suburban areas. Each agency is responsible for registering children for the program.
What do Fresh Air children enjoy?
Playing in the backyard
Laughing in the sunshine
Learning to swim
Running barefoot through the grass
Gazing at the stars on moonlit nights
Making new friends
Simple pleasures of life away from the inner-city .
I so wish we lived in an area where they did this! What an awesome way to serve as a family!
How about it? How cool would it be to help a child experience these things together as a family? My guess is that it would be the highlight of the whole summer for more than just that child :)
Want the whole scoop? Check out www.freshairfund.org