Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Fresh Air Fund Helping inner city children

The Fresh Air Fund is an independent, not-for-profit agency that provides free summer vacations to New York City children from low-income communities. Jenny Morgenthau is the Executive Director.

More than 1.7 million children have been helped since 1877 and nearly 10,000 New York City children now enjoy free Fresh Air Fund programs annually. In 2006, 5,000 children visited volunteer host families in suburbs and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada; 3,000 children attended five summer camps on a 2,300-acre (9 km2) site in Fishkill, New York; and the fund’s year-round camping program serves an additional 2,000 young people each year.

In 2006, 75% of the total income of the fund came from private individuals.

It has received multiple grants from the Carnegie Corporation, an organization that has supported more than 550 New York City arts and social service institutions since its inception in 2002, and which was made possible through a donation by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The program
Boys and girls from six to eighteen years old, visit over 300 Fresh Air Friendly Towns each summer. Children on first-time visits are six to twelve years old and stay for two weeks. The program also has a special one-week option for New York City families who would like to host children on their summer vacations outside the city.
Over 65 percent of all children are invited to stay with host families again, year after year. Youngsters may continue with The fund through age eighteen, and many spend the entire summer in the country. Children and volunteer families often form bonds of friendship that last a lifetime.

Each placement with a host family costs the fund $629 (2006).

Selection of children

Children are selected to participate based on financial need. Children are from low-income communities, with the majority receiving some form of public assistance. Youngsters are registered by more than 90 social service and community organizations in all five boroughs of New York City.

Host families

Volunteer host families open their homes to inner-city children for two weeks or more in the summertime. Each Friendly Town community is supervised by a committee of volunteers. Committee members select host families after reviewing their applications, visiting them in their homes and checking their personal references.
There are no financial requirements for hosting a child. Most hosts simply want to share their homes with inner-city youngsters. Host families are not paid. The fund has a program for placing children who have special physical or emotional needs.
In 2004, twelve teens were invited to holiday in Switzerland by Credit Suisse First Boston.

The camping program

Around 3,000 New York City youngsters, aged eight to fifteen, attend five Fresh Air camps on a 2,300-acre (9 km2) site in the Sharpe Reservation near Fishkill, New York.

* Camp Hidden Valley is for boys and girls with and without special needs, eight to twelve years old
* Camp Tommy (named after board member/designer Tommy Hilfiger for his dedication and support of Fresh Air children) is for boys aged twelve to fifteen
* Camp Anita Bliss Coler is for girls aged nine to twelve
* Camp Hayden-Marks Memorial is for boys aged nine to twelve
* Camp Mariah is a coed camp for youngsters aged twelve to fourteen (career campers)

Additionally, 2,000 young people participate in year-round weekend camping experiences.
Special features shared by all camps include a planetarium, model farm, wilderness trail and ropes course. Since 1999, many of the campers have received free guitar lessons on Spirit guitars donated by the Gibson Foundation.
Each placement in a camp costs the fund $1,234 but gives much happiness to many children.

Seven youngsters each year spend the summer at Camp Pioneer on the Sharpe Reservation, training to be counselors.

Career Awareness Program

The innovative Career Awareness Program is designed to help New York City youngsters understand the relationship between school and work and how to make choices that will determine their futures. Youngsters aged twelve to fourteen participate in job shadowing that offers a close-up view of business, and a career fair. The year-round program includes weekend camping trips and an intensive three-and-a-half week summer session at the Career Awareness Camp – Camp Mariah. The career camp is named in honor of Board member/singer Mariah Carey for her dedication, support and commitment to Fresh Air youngsters. Career awareness graduates continue to receive support through the PreOccupations Club and benefit from the guidance of volunteer mentors.

History of The Fund

In 1877, the Reverend Willard Parsons, minister of a small rural parish in Sherman, Pennsylvania, asked members of his congregation to provide country vacations as volunteer host families for children from New York City tenements. This was the beginning of the tradition. By 1884, Reverend Parsons was writing about the fund for the New York Tribune, and the number of children served grew. In 2006, close to 10,000 New York City children experienced the joys of summertime in Friendly Towns and at five Fund camps in upstate New York. When the New York Herald Tribune went out of business in 1966, the New York Times took over sponsorship.

New York City Volunteers

The fund has an active group of New York City volunteers. Metropolitan area volunteers help the fund reach out to New York City parents and children, support Camping, Career Awareness and Friendly Town programs and seek in-kind donations.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article, Fresh Air Fund

No comments:

Post a Comment