WESTON, Conn. -- During the summer of 2014, Joan Cook Unger and her family welcomed 7-year-old Heaven from Queens, N.Y., into their Weston home for two weeks of summer fun away from the scorching city streets.
Unger had seen an advertisement for The Fresh Air Fund's Volunteer Host Family Program and had immediately contacted the leader listed in the ad in anticipation of becoming a host family.
The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.8 million New York City children from low-income neighborhoods since 1877.
Each summer, close to 4,000 inner-city children visit suburban, rural, and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada through The Fresh Air Fund’s Volunteer Host Family Program.
Heaven enthusiastically joined the family in simple summer pastimes, such as playing outside, swinging on the jungle gym, and swimming in the pool.
Heaven got to take part in some exciting opportunities that she would not have otherwise experienced. During the day, Heaven attended camp with Joan Unger’s daughter, Mira, and came home in the evening to play with the family dog, which was exciting because she had not been around many dogs before.
The fun summer activities allowed Heaven to bond with Mira and truly become part of the Unger Family. Even after the summer visit ended, the Unger family has stayed in touch with Heaven through letters, phone calls, and the occasional visit.
Unger recommends that other families become a part of The Fresh Air Fund’s Volunteer Host Family Program.
“It helps us be more appreciative of what we have, be more mindful of the gifts that we have been given, and be more mindful of the uniqueness of other people. Not only have we connected with Heaven and her family but Heaven has connected with us by sharing her laughter, friendship, and lovely perspective,” said Unger.
The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency is always seeking more host families. To learn more about how to become a host family in Weston, call Sarah Thomas at 239-848-7066 or visit www.freshair.org .
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