Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Please help a City child.

In my immediately previous post, I mentioned having taken my daughter, Liz, to a camp in Maine. This is the third summer she's been able to enjoy some time on a lake shore in the woods, hiking, swimming, sailing, learning archery and so on. Anyone who has been reading this blog for some time knows that I'm a confirmed urbanite, thoroughly in love with my adopted home, New York City, and especially the Borough of Brooklyn. I think the City is a great place to raise kids, and that City kids, on the whole, kids of all colors, persuasions and income levels, are great kids. But, much as the City provides these kids with a rich environment in which to grow and learn, they also need occasional respite from its busy-ness and a chance to enjoy things that the City cannot offer.

Unfortunately, not all City kids have families who can afford to send them to camps, take them to country houses, or even get away for a long weekend. For over 130 years, the Fresh Air Fund has been providing economically disadvantaged youngsters with summer vacations in the country. To do this, it has relied on people with primary or vacation homes in rural areas not too far from the City to host a child for a week or ten days. Details of the program can be found at the Fresh Air Fund website.

This year, the Fund is in need of more families willing to host City kids for a short but very important vacation. Volunteers are especially needed to host older children (9-12) and boys. The Fund, of course, checks all volunteer hosts for suitability, and the vetting process for this summer must be completed by the end of this month. So, if you have a house in upstate New York, northern New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, central Massachusetts or Cape Cod, and would like to share a small part of your summer with a City child, please go to the website (there's a schedule of what areas and communities will be hosting Fresh Air children on what dates on the web page) and contact the Fund through the links provided on the site. If you cannot host a child, but want to help the Fund in its good works, you may also make a financial donation through the website.

Please give this your consideration, and be aware that time is of the essence. Unless more host families can be found quickly, as many as 200 children may not be able to enjoy summer vacations.