Thursday March 20, 2014 is the first day of spring – and New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan has officially designated it as “Fresh Air Fund Day,” in recognition of the Fund’s upcoming 138th summer of bringing together children from New York City with host families in New Hampshire.
In a little more than three months, the Fund will once again allow thousands of inner city boys and girls to escape the hot and noisy streets of New York to enjoy summertime fun outside of the city with host families from Virginia to Canada.
Barbara Rockwell coordinates the Volunteer Host Family Program in the Mount Washington Valley and Lakes Region of New Hampshire and with her family, has hosted a child for a few weeks each summer for 15 years.
She calls 20-year-old Jeremy, a 3rd year college student and swimmer from the Bronx, New York, her ‘Fresh Air son.”
65 percent of all Fresh Air kids are invited to visit the same host family year after year. First time Fresh Air visitors are 6 to 12 years old. Volunteer hosts need to undergo a background investigation but another host says “You don’t have to spend a lot of money or do anything fancy. The children can just play in the backyard and enjoy just being kids.”
The independent, non profit Fresh Air Fund has provided free summer experiences to nearly 2 million inner city kids since 1877. For more information about hosting a child or volunteering to help with the program, call Rockwell at (603) 367-8235 or see the website at www.freshair.org.