A fresh breath for NY children
By Zackarias Aitchison
The Haldimand Press
HALDIMAND—A joyous and eventful summer is something we all take for granted at one time or another, but not so far away in New York, this idealistic summer of warm weather, family gatherings, swimming, and playing in the sun is nothing more than a distant dream for many kids. The Fresh Air Fund aims to make these New York children’s dreams a reality through the Friendly Towns Program.
The Friendly Towns program gives underprivileged children aged seven to 18 a chance to visit a volunteer family for the summer to be given the vacation they deserve. The Fresh Air Fund has helped more than 1.8 million children since 1877 through the Friendly Towns program due to volunteer families who have opened their hearts and homes for these children, and in return have made memories that will last a lifetime.
Dunnville is considered a “Friendly Town,” and has been for more than 25 years. There are currently three active host families in Dunnville. Arielle DeBoer (nee Bulk) now serves as the Chair of Fresh Air Fund for Dunnville as she was inspired by her parents, who hosted Salvador from age 8 to 18.
Over the summers spent with Salvador, the Bulk family grew close to him, creating a bond that would last long after summer is over. The Fresh Air Fund allowed Salvador to have not just a vacation from New York in the country, but to also create memories with people he otherwise would have never met and participate in activities he may not have had the chance to do in New York. DeBoer recently met with Salvador in New York and described it as a warm and heartfelt experience.
“I encourage you to find a space in your home and your heart to invite a Fresh Air child this summer,” said DeBoer. “The memories you make together can last a lifetime!”
DeBoer and her family have since taken on their own Fresh Air Children through the Friendly Towns program, having hosted Khaliyah for three years, then Ksean for two years. They are now looking at hosting two new children this upcoming summer.
You can get involved with Fresh Air Fund and become a host family as well; it is easy. It costs nothing to sign up. If you are interested, please visit FreshAir.org where you will find information on how to be a host family. The website gives people the opportunity to see the faces of the Fresh Air children and read their own testimonials about how the Friendly Towns program has impacted their life in such a positive way. To inquire about being a host family this summer, please contact Arielle DeBoer by phone at 289-880-2225 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.