Kids from disadvantaged New York City communities need a chance to get out into the countryside—and breathe some fresh air. At least, that’s how Willard Parsons felt in 1877 when he created The Fresh Air Fund. Since then, The Fund has helped some two million needy children from the City to create wonderful summer memories that stay with them for life.
As of December 2012, The River Fund is a partner of The Fresh Air Fund. This has allowed us to enroll children aged six years old and up for visits with host families across 13 different states and Canada—where they can experience the joys of summer in the country. We at The River Fund are ecstatic about this partnership: For years, we have agonized over ways to make the summer school break meaningful for the children of our needy families.
Imagine what this means for the parents: With children out of school for two months during the summer, trying to keep them off the streets and out of trouble has been a problem that has engaged our attention at The River Fund for years. We created our very own basketball team to address this—The River Fund Cobras, and that works really well for a few kids. We created a summer organic gardening program—and that has helped a few others. Now, that we are partners of The Fresh Air Fund, we finally have the perfect program to offer each and every family we serve.
First time Fresh Air Fund kids spend one to two weeks with their host family. They typically get re-invited by the same family and continue with The Fund through age 18 and may enjoy longer summertime visits year after year. Host families range in size and background, but share the desire to open their hearts and homes to give city children an experience they will never forget. These hosts consider the experience to be as enriching for their own families as it is for the inner-city children. Not only are the families completely screened and their homes checked in every way, The Fresh Air Fund provides 24hour support to the families from all angles while the visiting child is with them. In most instances, several families in the same community are hosting City-children simultaneously—which is why The Fund named this program “Friendly Town.” Often, larger group- and neighborhood-activities and events are coordinated during the stay of the children from the City.
The experiences created by The Fund make a huge difference in the lives of these children from low-income families who lack the resources to send their kids on vacation. All it takes to create lifelong memories is a visit to the home of a warm and loving volunteer host family where they can laugh in the sunshine, run barefoot in the grass, ride bikes down country lanes and make new friends. And for the teenagers who are too old for the Friendly Town program, The Fund operates five award-winning Summer Camps in Upstate New York, with a truly mind-blowing range of activities—and with over 136 years of experience doing this, nobody knows better than The Fresh Air Fund how to make kids enjoy summer!
We at The River Fund view this program as one of the most empowering things we can do for our clients. The impact is immensely life-changing; not only for the children and their families but for entire communities: It breaks the cycle of poverty where it matters most—in the hearts of tomorrow’s adults who, while they’re still kids, suddenly discover that they are indeed valuable; that they’re NOT society’s garbage after all. The simple realization of being valuable is more precious than anything else anyone can give to a child who lives in poverty.
To support the enrollment of more kids in this specific program, please click here.
City kids need to get out into the countryside in summer—and get some fresh air. Our partnership with The Fresh Air Fund makes that possible for many children.
The River Fund Cobras neighborhood basketball team for at-risk youth.
Our Summer Organic Gardening Program has been a great outlet for many children from our community.
Caring for children living in poverty has always been a major part of our work. Kids make up 40% of our beneficiaries each year.