The Brightside: The Fresh Air fund
For over 140 years a New York based program has been matching low-income kids from New York with families in rural areas.
The program is called the Fresh Air Fund and has offered unique summer experiences for almost two million kids so far.
One local family, the Swartzentrubers, have been participating for five years now.
“I saw a brochure at a library some years ago. Its a program where people from New York city come out to friendly towns all up and down the East Coast.”, says Gail Swartzentruber.
Signing on to be a host family has been a big hit with Gail Swartzentruber’s four kids.
The Bridgeville family has learned so much just by agreeing to open up their home.
“Its been fun learning about her and a little bit about her culture and what its like living in New York city. You think of living in New York city, maybe its really different but she has all the same interests that my children do.”, Gail says.
One of Gail’s daughters says its been a blast to have someone she can relate to in the house.
“Its fun to get to know someone new. And I’ve really enjoyed the past couple of years, the girl we’ve had. I’ve had a lot of fun with her. And its nice to have a sister close to my age.”, says Allison.
The Fresh Air Fund sisters have bonded for the last two summers.
Allison says they enjoy lots of the same things.
“This past year we made slime. We got up early one morning and made pancakes. We camped in the backyard in a — and we’ve gone to the beach and taken her swimming.”, recalls Allison.
The family is looking forward to hosting the same young lady this summer and they’re not alone.
Families all over the East Coast and Southern Canada offer New Yorker’s a week’s worth of country-living.
Its something that kids aged seven to 18 can enjoy for free each year.