National Volunteer Week this year is from April 12th through April 18. This is a wonderful time to consider how you can volunteer and also a time to thank those that make a difference in other’s lives and in their communities through the act of volunteerism. Quoting from the Points of Light website, "National Volunteer Week is about taking action and encouraging individuals and their respective communities to be at the center of social change – discovering and actively demonstrating their collective power to make a difference."
This is what The Fresh Air Fund does so well. Since 1877, The Fresh Air Fund, a not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences in the country to more than 1.8 million New York City children from low-income. The Fresh Air is a program largely run by volunteers who work in several capacities throughout the year in 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada to help make The Fresh Air Fund’s programs possible. Fresh Air host families open their hearts and homes, and share the everyday joys of summertime with these children. Our local volunteer leaders – many of whom are also hosts – serve on our local committees, plan summer activities, publicize the program, and interview prospective host families. Additionally, individuals and local businesses give generously of their time and resources to make The Fresh Air Fund’s Volunteer Host Family Program throughout this area a great success each summer.
I would like to take a moment to specifically give a heartfelt thank you to Susan Danson and Michelle Gray of Wrentham, as well as Beverly Northam of Norton and Marguerite Monahan of Medway. This wonderful group of women volunteer so much of their time and give so much of themselves as local chairwomen for The Fresh Fund. Last summer these 4 women were responsible for giving 74 children the opportunity that they would not otherwise have. 74 kids got to board a bus at the Port Authority amid the summer heat and noise of the city streets. They rode those buses with hope and excitement at what the week ahead would be for them. For most this was the only escape from the dangerous city streets where they live all year. 74 children got off those buses in Wrentham or a nearby bus stop to be greeted by wonderful families who were waiting for them. 74 children got to swim, walk barefoot in the grass, feel the sunshine, see the stars, as well as make new friends and memories that will last a lifetime. They got to see what else life can be and what possibilities are out there for them.
Sue, Michelle, Bev and Marguerite embody the spirit of what National Volunteer Week is meant to be. They see a need and they put their heart and soul into fulfilling that need. They are an asset to our communities, to the children of NYC, to their own families and to those like myself lucky enough to call them friends. Their continued dedication truly embodies the spirit of giving back.
And to the host families in our towns, too many to name here, that open their homes for a week or two in the summer, I would like to say that what you do is truly amazing. To open your hearts, to welcome these children and give them the chance to feel safe and to know that the kindness of strangers is real, and to allow them to just be kids and have fun for a short time is a priceless gift. Thank you doesn’t seem to be enough.
For more information on how you can help to continue this tradition of volunteering, please call The Fresh Air Fund at 800-367-0003 or visit www.freshair.org.
Norfolk County MA
The Fresh Air Fund