Do you remember summer vacation? I’m not talking about the trip you took with the family last year. I’m talking about that break from school you could look forward to every year from Kindergarten though high school. Long days, the occasional family trip, and nearly absolute freedom. It was incredible, right? Give anything to have it back, right?
No, I haven’t found a way you can rediscover your childhood. But I do know how you can make this coming summer an absolutely incredible experience for a child who otherwise is faced with little opportunity. The Fresh Air Fund gives 5,000 New York City boys and girls, ages six to 18, free summer experiences in the country and the suburbs every year. But they don’t do it alone. The depend on host families in 13 states, from Maine to Virgina, and Canada as well. These families open up their homes for a few weeks each summer, giving children growing up in New York City’s toughest neighborhoods the chance to know the joys of a Fresh Air experience.
The Fresh Air program has been around for years; when I was a kid, my cousins down the road used to host a girl every summer. Her name was Sharita, and each summer I could count on her showing up for a few weeks. She and my cousins had a blast. I, being the jealous type, didn’t usually look forward to the visits, because it meant my cousins were having fun with someone beside me! But Sharita’s annual visits had a positive impact on me, too; her presence exposed me to a world outside my own, and, though I was slow to come around, she also taught me that I wasn’t the center of the universe!
There are many ways that you can help the Fresh Air Fund, but their biggest need right now is for host families for this summer. You can find more info at their webiste: http://freshairfundhosts.com. It doesn’t take anything special to be a Fresh Air host – just some extra room in your home and your heart. Check out the website and consider how your family can make a difference this summer.
Ben Martin is the CEO of THE FATHER LIFE. He lives with his wife and five children in the Rochester, NY, area.