ANNE COPE: Fresh Air Fund needs families to host kids
For more than 130 years, The Fresh Air Fund has given underprivileged New York City children a break from the summer heat and a chance to experience fresh air and rural life.
I’m sometimes asked, “Why New York City kids?” The answer is simple. NYC is the most populated U.S. city with very little space, and low-income children rarely, if ever, get a chance to leave.
Most live in cramped, high-rise apartment buildings, often with no air conditioning. Going outside usually means going down flights of stairs that empty onto concrete and crime.
A few years ago, a former Fresh Air child spoke about the effect of the program on his life. A college graduate from Lock Haven University, he spoke about his best friends — two were in prison, one was dead. They grew up in the same New York City neighborhood, with similar family hardships. The only difference was that he had participated in the Fresh Air Fund and had experiences and exposure that his friends did not. That young man now works for The Allegheny Conference on Community Development and he is positively affecting our area.
I have told countless people that one of the favorite experiences for kids who visit is the freedom to walk outside to a yard. It is that simple to change a child’s world and yet so difficult to find volunteers.
Trips start in July and we have only four families signed up to host children. There are several trips to the area ranging from seven days to two weeks and the children are ages 6-12. All family types are welcome to host; you don’t have to have kids to show a child a new world!
Please contact me at (724) 465-5341 or visit freshair.org for more information.