YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y. -- Growing up, Elaine Griffiths, of Yorktown Heights, would always see television commercials for The Fresh Air Fund’s Volunteer Host Family Program, and that program was always in the back of her mind.
In July 2014, Elaine, her husband John, and their children, Etta, Trevor, Kevin, Kelly and Owen, opened their hearts and their home to Laron, of the Bronx, for a week. This year, Laron will be rejoining the Griffithses family for two weeks of summertime fun, a new family tradition.
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.
“You don’t need anything special, just a home,” Griffiths says of the hosting experience. “We did the same things we would have done, there was just an extra person.”
During Laron’s visit, he loved swimming in the pool, splashing around in the sprinkler, and exploring the Griffithses’ backyard. Laron and the Griffiths family also attended vacation Bible school, visited a local farm to pick vegetables and went to a Hudson Valley Renegades baseball game.
Laron surprised Griffiths many times during his visit with his amazement to simple, everyday things.
“The first night he was with us, he saw fireflies for the first time. He was perplexed at the bugs. He called his mom and told her, ‘Mom! They have bugs that light up here!’” Griffiths said.
“He is such a playful, energetic, funny, sweetheart,” Griffiths says of Laron. “Having him here was a one-hundred present worthwhile experience. We are looking forward to having him back.”
To learn more about how to become a host family in the Westchester area, call Judith Brisson at 914-523-3713 or visit www.freshair.org.
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