Rehoboth Family Welcomes Home Fresh Air Child
The Svendson/ Tehan family of Rehoboth welcomed home their Fresh Air daughter, Abby, on Monday July 9 as part of the organization’s Friendly Towns program.
Since 2014, the Svendson/ Tehan family has been inviting Abby into their home each summer. She usually stays with them for a week and enjoys water activities such as going to the beach and waterslides. Abby said that her favorite part of coming each summer is “having fun with [her] family.” Abby was greeted at the bus arrival by her host mother, Kara, and sisters, Bella and Maura.
Abby’s host mother, Kara Svendson, said that her family volunteered with the Fresh Air Fund when she was a child, which is what led her to participate with her own family. “Volunteerism has always been a huge part of my life and it’s really hard when you have little kids to find something that kind of fits in that you can just bring along and do with them and this is just such a great opportunity for expanding Abby’s horizons, expanding our horizons, and just a way that you can feel like you’re doing something.”
About 25 other children arrived with Abby on a bus from New York City and met their Fresh Air families at King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham. The families are from the Seekonk “Friendly Town” area.
The Fresh Air fund is a non-profit organization that has been working for over 100 years to provide free summer experiences to New York City children from low income communities. Through the organization’s Friendly Towns program, children ages seven to 18 have the opportunity to spend part of the summer in a rural or suburban area. Every summer, thousands of children spend a week, 10 days, or two weeks with a host family and enjoy numerous outdoor activities.
The Friendly Towns program allows these children to participate in activities that they may not be able to at home. Volunteer Sarah Bates said, “Children that are part of the Fresh Air Fund are at a poverty level so they don’t get to just go to the movies when they want to go to the movies, they don’t get to just go to Water Wizz, or [do] different activities.”
Bates works to inform and recruit families in the Seekonk “Friendly Town.” Families who want to participate in the Friendly Towns program go through an application process, a background check, and then may get matched with a child.
Participants in the Friendly Towns program say that it is a very valuable experience. Svendson said, “I think it’s a great way to benefit both your family and potentially a child.” Families interested in getting involved in The Fresh Air Fund can reach out to Sarah Bates at email@example.com.