Imaging growing up surrounded by towering buildings, hard pavement with a playground surrounded by wire fences. For me it doesn’t take much of a stretch- that was the setting for the better part of my childhood. At that age all you want is the chance to get away and that is what one non-profit has given over a million inner-city kids from New York City.

Founded in 1877, The Fresh Air Fund connects children from disadvantaged neighborhoods with volunteer host families in small town communities across 13 northwester states from Virginia to Maine and including parts of Canada.  While it is a longstanding organization, trendsetting celebs like Vashtie Kola are supporters of the organization because of the work that it does. Last summer, The Fresh Air Fund’s Volunteer Host Family program, Friendly Town, gave close to 5,000 New York City kids a free summer experiences in the country and the suburbs.

Children who participate in The Fresh Air Fund’s program are registered by over 90 participating social service and community organizations located in the five boroughs of New York City. And the connections made with host families are lasting ones: more than 65% of all the children who participate in Friendly Town are reinvited to stay with their host family, year after year.

The boys and girls who were part of the Friendly Town program come from some of New York City’s toughest neighborhoods. Many of them are from low-income families without the means to afford a summer vacation. Unable to see the world from the comfort of an airplane, train or bus seat, the children who participate in the Fresh Air Fund’s summer program are able to experience a summer filled with memories and one that can have a positive impact on the rest of their lives.

If you are interesting in sponsoring child during the summer or want more information about Friendly Town, please visit The Fresh Air Fund’s website: www.freshair.org

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