BENNINGTON >> Once again, children from the Fresh Air Fund will visit Vermont this summer and the organization is still seeking volunteers, with the deadline fast approaching.
The Fresh Air Fund is a not-for-profit organization, founded in 1877, with the mission of allowing children from low-income communities in New York City to enjoy new experiences away from the city. Last year, several dozen children from New York City visited southern Vermont in two groups, the first arriving on July 1, and the second, smaller group arriving on July 30. The kids, who stayed for either one or two weeks, were hosted by families in Arlington, Manchester Center, Marlboro, Wilmington, Danby, Bennington, Wells, North Bennington, West Pawlet, East Dorset, and South Londonderry. In total, 4,000 children participate in the program each year, with host communities all along the East Coast, from North Carolina to Ontario.
Children can participate in the program through age 18, and many return to the same families year after year. First-time participants range from 6 to 12 years old. The program provides transportation to and from Vermont, but the host families are expected to provide everything else for the child during their stay (save any medical expenses not covered by insurance). Host families go through a rigorous screening process, as do the kids themselves. According to data from the program, over 65 percent of children are invited back by their host families the next year.
To learn more about hosting a Fresh Air child this summer, contact Pat Meulemans at 802-297-9886 or visit The Fresh Air Fund online at www.freshair.org. Applications to be a host family are available on the website. The deadline for signing up to host a child for the August session is July 1.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.