The Berkshire Experience For Two Young New York City Boys
On a recent edition of 'Let's Talk,' Local Coordinator of the 'Fresh Air Fund,' Lelia Bruun along with local host family volunteer Jane Jacobs were guests on the program. Before we learn about Jane and her husband Howard's experience of hosting two young boys, let's learn about the Fresh Air Fund.
The Fresh Air Fund works with potential volunteer host families to have children ages 7 to 12 (from low-income New York City communities) stay with the family for one or two weeks in the summer. Children can be reinvited by the same family through age 18. The host families are volunteers who live in rural, suburban and small town communities and share a fun-filled summer with the child/children.
Children get to experience new cultures and areas at a young age. By doing this, they are ahead of the game in terms of gaining independence early on. In addition, the host families learn from the children (culture, food, interests and more). Complete details regarding guidelines of hosting a New York City child can be found at: www.freshair.org
(above information taken from Fresh Air Fund brochure by permission)
This was the first time Jane and Howard became a host family and it was the first time the two children that they hosted were away from home. Jane and Howard hosted two young Asian American boys and learned from the boys how to make Chinese dumplings, it was quite fun and delicious according to Jane. In addition, the two children were not related and had never met, so they had to learn to get along together.
(all photos used by permission from Jane and Howard)
(above photo: Jane and Howard with the visiting boys)
Each boy enjoyed different activities including reading books, being active, visiting grocery stores and more. Howard and Jane setup activities that fit the boys' interests. They participated in gardening, visited animal farms and fed the animals. A big highlight of the trip was going to a local Pittsfield ski area as the boys participated in the free slip and slide day. They also enjoyed touring their local supermarket. Furthermore, the boys participated in chores, cleaning & other tasks which supported their learning experience of responsibilities.
Jane and Howard's reasoning for volunteering is they wanted to give back and make a positive difference in the young boys' lives Their own kids are both adults aged 30 or older. Hanging around with young kids was something they were missing and this was the perfect opportunity in filling that void according to Jane. The boys will be staying with Jane and Howard again this summer.
(above photo: Jane Jacobs and Local Fresh Air Fund Coordinator, Lelia Bruun)