Log In

Reset Password

Welcome A City Child Into Newtown's Fresh Air



Text Size

Welcome A City Child Into Newtown’s Fresh Air

By Kendra Bobowick

Glowing in the morning’s sun like stained glass, a monarch’s wings shiver in a breeze carrying the sugared scent of buddleia in bloom. Yet a butterfly perched at eye level in a backyard garden is something some children can see only in magazines.

Living amid shadows of highrises and surrounded by traffic stopping and going where streets and avenues converge, a city child may not be familiar with the aromas of cut grass, lake water soaked into the shore and warmed by the sun, or flower-filled cottage gardens attracting butterflies. The scenario can change, however, one household at a time.

Offering New York City 10-year-old Jehari two weeks at her home in Newtown, Miranda Pacchiana said, “It will give him a chance to stretch his legs, get some fresh air, and get a taste of country life.” For the first time this summer she will work with with the Fresh Air Fund, a not-for-profit agency that has provided free summer vacations in the country to more than 1.7 million New York City children since its inception in 1877. Through the Fund’s Friendly Town program, close to 5,000 children visit volunteer host families each summer in rural and suburban communities.

Local Fresh Air Fund coordinator Karen Montagna hopes families will join Ms Pacchiana and make room for a guest this summer.

“The most important thing about hosting is, you don’t have to do a ton of things — catching a butterfly or a lightning bug, flying a kite, it’s all new to them,” she said. The backyard, she added, is something new to a city child.

Ms Pacchiana and her husband Adam and children Emma, 12, Jackson, 11, and 7-year old Isabel will welcome Jehari for two weeks beginning July 7. Ms Pacchiana also hopes the opportunity leaves a lesson with her family.

“The kids will enjoy the feeling of helping out,” said Ms Pacchiana, who is already making plans. Viewing the young man’s stay as an extended play date, especially for her son, Ms Pacchiana has spoken with staff from Newtown Youth Academy. Jehari will attend the academy in the morning for free for one week. Also, the Shaolin Studios on Queen Street has offered complimentary instruction. “It is nice that our town is helping out,” she said.

Biking, rollerblading, walks with their dog Charlie, playing in the yard and swing set, trips to Kent, walks in the woods, swimming at Treadwell Park pool, and simply enjoying the summertime in Newtown are all on the to-do list. Jehari may have ideas of his own about what to do in Newtown, which he can relay to Ms Pacchiana.

Ms Montagna encourages families to contact the Fresh Air Fund and “help a child enjoy the simple pleasures of summer away from hot city streets,” she wrote in a recent release.

 “On a Fresh Air Fund vacation, a child will see a world outside New York City, full of meadows, streams and lakes. They often may learn new skills like riding a bike, swimming or gardening. Many children make friends that last forever,” Fresh Air Fund Executive Director Jenny Morgenthau stated in a press release. “Host families enjoy the Fresh Air experience as much as the children who visit them. Hosts feel they gain a new appreciation for simple summertime pleasures in their community.”

Families who would like to invite a child to their home this summer can contact the Fresh Air Fund at 800-367-0003 or visit FreshAirFund.org. Karen Montagna can be reached at 203-944-0710.

Prospective host families will go through an interview process and background check, and a representative will visit the family’s home. Although an extra bedroom is not required, an extra bed is necessary. The process may take several weeks, so the Fund is hoping to hear from Newtown and surrounding families as soon as possible.

Visits are scheduled this year for July 7-21 and August 6-14.

Comments are open. Be civil.

Leave a Reply