Fairfield County families gathered in the parking lot of the First Congregational Church to welcome inner city children that Darien families will be hosting for a week or more via the Fresh Air Fund. Thirteen children from New York City arrived on June 28 to families holding welcome signs and balloons.
The children come from all boroughs of New York City. The Fresh Air Fund, an independent not-for-profit, was founded in 1877 with the simple mission to allow children living in low-income communities to enjoy free summer experiences in the suburbs and country.
More than 140 years ago when “fresh air” was considered a cure for respiratory ailments, the Rev. Willard Parsons, a minister from Sherman, Pa., asked members of his congregation to provide country vacations as volunteer host families for New York City’s neediest children. To this day, the fund has benefited more than 1.8 million children.
Fresh Air Fund volunteer Amanda Hanson told the Darien Times, “Buses come out to 14 different states throughout the United States and Canada all summer long and they bring inner city kids from New York to suburbs up and down the east coast.”
She continued, “They stopped in Darien to bring inner city kids to their suburban host families. The goal is the give them experiences for fresh air, playing, swimming, and also exposing them to opportunities that they might not be exposed to otherwise.”
For Vanessa Elias, this is her fourth time hosting a child through the Fresh Air Fund and she and her family are hosting the same child from last year. With Sabrina from Queens, she sets out to make s’mores and play in tree houses. She also mentioned she takes the children to do everyday things to experience life as residents of Fairfield County do.
This is Casey Caine’s first time hosting a child through the fund. She hopes to give her host child a fun summer full of “playing in the pool, strawberry picking, and going to the beach.”
To host a child, you can visit the Fresh Air Fund website, (freshair.org), where you can also make a donation.