• Annual Volunteer Host Family Photo Contest


  • Fatima A. Shama Named Executive Director of The Fresh Air Fund

    The Fresh Air Fund today announced that Fatima A. Shama will succeed Jenny Morgenthau as Executive Director of The Fund effective July 15, 2015.

    William P. Lauder, Chairman of The Fund's Board, thanked Jenny Morgenthau for her years of commitment to The Fund, saying, "During her 32-year tenure Jenny continually strengthened The Fund’s mission and expanded its reach and influence to thousands of New York City children. Jenny leaves some very big shoes to fill, and she will be sorely missed.” In welcoming Ms. Shama, Mr. Lauder stated, “We look forward to the enthusiasm, deep expertise and commitment to community that Fatima will bring to this role.”

    Ms. Shama is currently Vice President of Strategic Development and External Affairs at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. Prior to this role, Ms. Shama was the Commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, a position she held for almost four-and-a-half years. As part of Ms. Shama’s tremendous work as Commissioner, she created Blueprints for Immigrant Integration, an intricate how-to guide put together to help other cities around the world enhance their local immigrant integration efforts through shared successful practices and highlight the immense positive impact immigrants can have on their communities. Prior to that, she served in various positions in Mayor Bloomberg’s administration involving policy roles within education, healthcare and literacy.

    “Fatima is deeply committed to public service, and she excelled at every position she held over her eight years in our administration," said Michael R. Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City. "Whether she was working to improve healthcare access for limited English proficient New Yorkers, or to increase parental engagement in our schools, or to develop new ways to serve immigrant New Yorkers - and the programs she developed as our Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs became a national model - she never stopped thinking of how to better the lives of New Yorkers. The Fresh Air Fund is lucky to have Fatima as its new Executive Director.”

    Ms. Shama said, "I am grateful for the opportunity to lead an organization that has had such a positive impact on generations of New York City children from low-income communities. As a lifelong New Yorker, I've long admired The Fund’s dynamic work and its committed board, and I look forward to advancing The Fresh Air Fund’s mission of providing unforgettable experiences that expand the development, outlook and imagination of children throughout our City.”

    John Irwin, President of The Fund’s Board and a member of the search committee said, “We believe Fatima will continue and expand the important work of The Fund, particularly its year-round educational and career programs. Fatima has repeatedly demonstrated her commitment to helping the populations served by The Fresh Air Fund and understands how to design programs to meet the challenges they face.”

    “Working with Fatima I learned first-hand that when it comes to New York City’s kids, Fatima is a fierce advocate and creative thinker for opportunities and enhancing the lives of the kids and families in our City,” said Dennis Walcott, former Chancellor of the NYC Department of Education, and former Deputy Mayor for the City of New York.

    Board member and member of the search committee, David Perpich said, “The Fresh Air Fund has been helping change lives for close to 140 years and with Fatima’s unique blend of leadership, vision and deep understanding of New York City’s communities, we believe she will help position the organization for another 140 years of impact. I am excited to be part of the organization as Fatima leads us forward.”

    Before joining the Bloomberg administration, Ms. Shama was the Executive Director of the Greater Brooklyn Health Coalition. Ms. Shama earned a BA from Binghamton University and a Masters in Public Administration from Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs Executive Program. Born and raised in the Bronx, Ms. Shama is the daughter of a Brazilian mother and a Palestinian father, and speaks six languages.

  • Registration open for Fresh Air summers

    We're excited to countdown to summer at the Lutheran Family Support Center Family Fun Festival Saturday, May 16th! Join us and register your child for a Fresh Air Fund summer experience. 

  • 'Fresh Outlooks From a Summer Getaway'

    We're so grateful for this morning's wonderful Editorial in The New York Times on Ricky Cruz, a former Fresh Fund Air participant.

        
    Pictured, Ricky Cruz (Karsten Moran for The New York Times)

     

  • Your Support Counts

     

    "In the Bronx, all you see are airplanes and streetlights…no stars. At camp, I see the stars every night," said a 10-year-old Fresh Air camper. 

    Your support can make a difference in the lives of thousands of New York City children.

    Since 1877, more than 1.8 million New York City children from low-income communities have benefitted from free summer experiences in the country. Last year, close to 9,000 boys and girls visited the homes of volunteer host families in 13 states and Canada, enjoyed Fresh Air camps in upstate New York or participated in year-round educational programs at camp and in New York City.

  • 12 Days of Giving

    We’re honored to have been chosen by the General Assembly as one of the 12 organizations they’re working with that are changing the world.

    During their 12 Days of Giving campaign, we're given the chance to win $10,000 to continue giving our New York City children summers filled with running barefoot through the grass, gazing at star-filled skies, catching fireflies at night or swimming for the first time.

    Your vote can help us provide these life-changing experiences, where each day is an exploration of nature and a celebration of summer. We appreciate your support. 

    Vote for us here →

     

  • Celebrate #GivingTuesday with us!

    Fresh Air summers are filled with children running barefoot through the grass, gazing at star-filled skies, catching fireflies at night or swimming for the first time. For 138 years, The Fresh Air Fund has given New York City children these life-changing experiences, where each day is an exploration of nature and a celebration of summer.

    Join us on #GivingTuesday on December 2, 2014 - a global day dedicated to giving back – and help make these experiences possible for our Fresh Air children. Charities, businesses, communities, and generous supporters around the world will come together with one common goal: to celebrate the generosity of the season and to give.

    Since 1877, more than 1.8 million New York City children from low-income communities have benefitted from free summer experiences in the country through our programs, which provide children with the pure joy of carefree summer days with volunteer host families or at summer camps in upstate New York. Year-round programs offer adolescents support for educational and career goals.

    Give the gift of summer to Fresh Air Fund children →

    Learn about #GivingTuesday →

     

  • Host a Child this Summer

    Fresh Air summers are filled with children running barefoot through the grass and gazing at star-filled skies. This summer, we'll celebrate our 138th summer of serving New York City children and what better way to kick off the season than with a brand new host recruitment video? Thank you to Greener Media for creating this beautiful and inspiring recruitment tool. 


  • A Fresh Air Fund Thanksgiving Visit!

    Mary Daly, her husband Robert, and their two children, Matthew, 9 going on 10, Rachel, 19, and Kevin, 23, opened their hearts and home to Zi Bin, of Brooklyn, for the first time this past August, taking part in the simple joys of summer together at their suburban Morris County area home. The Dalys recently welcomed Zi Bin to their home for Thanksgiving, sharing the joys of their community with him during the off-season.

    Zi Bin had met some of the Daly’s extended family during his summer visit, but eight cousins eagerly waited to meet him at Mary’s sister’s house over Thanksgiving. “Zi Bin’s family dropped him off at our house Thanksgiving morning and we left for my sister’s house in Dutchess County, NY. The children played toy cars, air hockey, and video games. Zi Bin met so many new people that day,” recalls Mary. The rest of the weekend was spent at the Dalys New Jersey home watching movies, and making snow globes and rubber band bracelets.

    “We love The Fresh Air Fund and want others to be involved. Zi Bin was able to enjoy so many new things during his two visits. We would like to host again this summer and keep in touch throughout the year with our new friend.”

  • Give the Gift of Summer to New York City Children this Holiday Season

    Celebrate #GivingTuesday with The Fresh Air Fund this holiday season!

    Aniyah felt the cool strands of grass beneath her feet, soared to new heights on the swings with her Fresh Air brother Christian, and splashed in the salty water at the beach. “Christian saw how much enjoyment Aniyah had from all her new experiences and he too became interested in his swing set that he had never played on. And, he even overcame his fear of water! With Aniyah by his side, Christian started to go further into the ocean at the beach. It brought tears to my eyes watching Aniyah enjoy herself and watching my son learn from her. I couldn’t get her off of the swings or inside no matter how hard I tried! She just loved running barefoot in our yard and being outside,” says Fresh Air host Mia.

  • Open your Heart and Home this Summer and Watch Something Amazing Happen

    “It's simple.  It's easy.  You'll be amazed how quickly you can fall in love with these children,” says Jennifer Kreutz-Casto, of Lancaster, NY, whose family has been hosting through The Fresh Air Fund’s Volunteer Host Family Program since 2010. “We have changed and gained more from these kids than I could have imagined. Just the sight of all my children – Fresh Air kids included – playing and laughing like they've known each other forever... it's amazing.”

    We are thrilled that Jennifer has taken on the role of Assistant Fund Representative for the Western New York area and joined our amazing volunteer leaders as they recruit dedicated families to host Fresh Air children this summer.

    “All the children want is to hang out and swim or play with the grass under their feet. I look forward to spreading the word and sharing my experiences about The Fresh Air Fund,” says Jennifer, who is so grateful to the person who mentioned it to her family.  “I remember just thinking: 10 days?  We can do that.  I'm glad we did.”

  • Valesan's Fresh Air Christmas

    “David, my stepson Dalton and I waited until Valesan arrived to cut down our Christmas tree this year,” says Jayne Cahill, of Woolwich, ME. Jayne and David Cahill have been opening their hearts and home to 14-year-old Valesan since 2007 through The Fresh Air Fund’s Volunteer Host Family Program.

    On Saturday, December 22nd, 2012, Jayne, David, Dalton and Valesan went to Green Acre Christmas Tree Farm in Edgecome. “It was just before dark and - as if Mother Nature knew this was a special adventure - it started to snow lightly adding just the right amount of magic to the moment,” Jayne said. “Like most New York children, Valesan was very concerned about his sneakers getting dirty. I always get a chuckle at that.” Valesan and David found the perfect spruce, and after a little instruction and a lot of laughter Valesan cut down his first Christmas tree.

    The following morning Valesan and Dalton did the honors of decorating the tree together as David and Jayne watched. “Dalton has always been great with Valesan, very patient and kind. When Dalton left for college in Florida, we took Valesan with us. It was a huge life moment for Dalton, and it was special that he so willingly shared that with Valesan too,” recalled Jayne.

    The day before Valesan left to go back to New York City, Maine experienced a large snowstorm. “Valesan had never been sledding, so that night - with flashlights in hand - we all went to the local golf course and he had his first sledding experience! He loved it!” said Jayne. “It was really wonderful to have us all together this Christmas, and after spending six summers with us, Valesan is just another member of the family.”


  • Brandon Mendoza's Fresh Air Journey

    We were thrilled to find out that Brandon Mendoza, a former Fresh Air child, and Jacinta Mendoza celebrated their wedding on October 20th, 2012 with their friends and family, including Brandon’s Fresh Air host family, the McKnights.

    Kandy and Robert McKnight, of Falmouth, MA, first opened their hearts and home to Brandon in 1993, a tradition that lasted through The Fresh Air Fund’s Volunteer Host Family Program until 1999 but hasn’t wavered since.

    When Brandon was five-years-old, he was living in a homeless shelter in Brooklyn, NY with his mother and two brothers. The following year, Brandon and his family moved to an apartment in Far Rockaway, NY and his mother signed him and his brother Miguel up for The Fresh Air Fund’s Volunteer Host Family Program. “I was six-years-old and remember waiting at The Port Authority Bus Station seeing all of the young teenagers and adults helping and getting things organized for the children and their families. I remember thinking, ‘I wonder where they get these people?’ the chaperones were so nice and there were a lot of kids from our school on the bus ride to Cape Cod, MA,” Brandon recalls.

    Upon arriving in Cape Cod that very first summer, Brandon and Miguel saw a woman waiting for them – Kandy McKnight. “I had no idea where Cape Cod was, but I was convinced that there were bears lurking in the woods, and as Kandy announced that we were almost home, Miguel announced he felt homesick. Well, I quickly learned that he meant car sick. I knew that we were off to a great start.” Homesickness faded and the week flew by. “That summer was by far the most memorable one in my life,” says Brandon. “Every day was filled with activities. Kandy’s family treated us as if we were always there. Now, they are still in my life as family.”

    Prior to The Fresh Air Fund, Brandon dealt with one hurdle after another. Between moving multiple times and personal family problems, Brandon could always rely on the McKnights: “The one constant and stable thing in my life has been my Fresh Air family.”

    After graduating Lock Haven University in May 2008, Brandon went on to pursue a Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.), Urban & Regional Affairs, Public & Nonprofit Management degree from the University of Pittsburgh. He now works for the Allegheny Conference on Community Development., whose mission is to continue to grow the Pittsburgh, PA Region's economy.

    Brandon overcame many obstacles throughout his 26 years of life and continuously celebrates the importance of our programs in his accomplishments: “The Fresh Air Fund is an organization of opportunity, growth, education and hope,” remarks Brandon. “I want to recognize my former Fresh Air family. I say former, as now they are just my family. We have celebrated life’s moments together for over 20 years and over that time I morphed from a visitor into a brother. Kandy opened her home and her family to me. She taught me love, self-respect, the importance of an education, and even how to do my laundry and run a vacuum every once in a while. To her, I say thank you. What you call a summer vacation is so much more to so many.”

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