With the New Years come resolutions, and for those who have “helping others” on their list, here’s a great way to do so this year. The Fresh Air Fund is an independent, not-for-profit agency that has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. Each summer, over 4,000 children visit volunteer host families in rural, suburban and small town communities including those on Long Island.
One such family is the Malones who volunteered to be a host this past summer. Living in Southampton, New York, Michelle Malone admits is “almost like having a vacation in your backyard every day of the year.” Michelle, her husband Matthew, and three children, 13-year-old Thomas, 11-year-old James and 10-year-old William, were eager to open up their “vacation” home and backyard through The Fresh Air Fund’s Volunteer Host Family Program. In 2008, 14-year-old De’Quan (DJ) joined the Malone family. This past summer, the Malones also welcomed 12-year-old Jimmy for the first time.
Michelle and her husband wanted to give back, but also wanted their children to gain a new perspective. “I wanted Thomas, William and James to see life through this child’s eyes. I wanted them to see that not everyone just has a beach in their backyard,” said Michelle. She recalls how special it has been for her family to watch DJ grow. “This year, DJ transitioned to high school and it was a big move for him. It was amazing to see how focused and driven he has become. He really has matured.”
Michelle and the entire Malone family want to express the benefits for those families who are considering hosting a child. “You get as much if not more out of it than the child you’re hosting. It’s so exciting and refreshing to share your life with someone new.”
The Fresh Air Fund is always seeking host families to enable as many New York City children as possible to benefit from a summer experience outside of the city. To learn more about how to become a host family in Southampton, please contact Deb Asirifi, a volunteer leader for the East End area, at 212-897-8900 ext. 8969 or visit The Fresh Air Fund online at www.freshair.org.