Fresh Air Fund
Last year my husband and I decided to host a 6 year old boy, Eddie*, from the Fresh Air Fund. For two weeks that summer I became the mother of 4 instead of 3. It was a living hell. Imagine a playdate that lasts 334 1/2 hours too long, riddled with late-night bouts of homesickness.
However, I liked Eddie. So, despite all reasons to the contrary, we invited him back this year. When my husband picked him up in New York, he exclaimed, “I can’t wait to see Miss Robin!” (Yes, I’m still waiting for my own kids to share such delight in seeing me.) He ran into my arms as though his whole year culminated in being with us once again. This time, we loved being together: the arguing mitigated dramatically, as did his homesickness. Eddie swam every day with us, went to the playground, went to parties, played baseball, and was genuinely and visibly thrilled with every thing we accepted as part of our normal summer routine. As difficult as the past visit had been, through it we had learned how to interact and succeed as a “family.”
Toward the end of his visit he popped his head out of the swimming pool and I saw he was drooling. He laughed and wiped his face and exclaimed, “I slobbered on the tire swing yesterday, too! I slobber when I’m having fun.” With that, he popped back into the water. I never thought I’d be so happy to see someone slobbering in my pool. That must be why God created chlorine.
The day before we drove him back to the city, he said, “Miss Robin, wouldn’t it be fun if I could stay here all summer?” Well, maybe. But I can’t wait to see him again next summer.
Who they are and what they do: “Since 1877, The Fresh Air Fund, a not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences in the country to more than 1.7 million New York City children from disadvantaged communities. Each year, thousands of children visit volunteer host families in 13 states and Canada through the Friendly Town Program or attend one of five Fresh Air Fund camps.” (website) In Fairfield County, host families are asked to host a boy or girl for two weeks in July or one week in August. Families who have hosted before may extend visits or change days.
But in Fairfield County: Only 25 families volunteered to host children. Nearly everyone I saw the week Eddie visited said, “We want to host someone” or “I’ve wanted to do that for so long.” To which I say: Then do it!! Please!!
How to get involved: If you’re a family in Fairfield County and wish to host a boy or girl, contact Martha Mintzer at (203) 226-6627. Also, the Westport Public LIbrary is hosting a Q&A on Wed, March 26, 2014 from 11-12. 3rd Floor. Snacks will be served.
What you may now know but should:
1. Host families are invited to a posh fall cocktail party hosted by Tiki Barber.
2. Martha organizes parties and activities for host families and their FAF charges
*Not his real name.