Written by Paige McAtee Wednesday, 06 August 2014 00:00
For an entire week, low-income city children were able to spend a vacation with a host family from Nassau and Suffolk County through the Fresh Air Fund.
This not-for-profit agency provides free summer experiences for low-income city children, giving them some fresh air away from city-life for a week, where they get to do fun family-oriented activities each day.
All of the families took a trip out to Farmingdale Lanes to go bowling on Thursday, July 24. Over 100 people showed up and they all took up half of the bowling alley.
The owner of Farmingdale Lanes, Teresa McCarthy, is also a host for The Fresh Air Fund and donated her bowling alley for the night towards the foundation. Everyone participating was able to bowl, enjoy pizza and soda, hangout together and get to know everybody in the group.
Through The Fresh Air Fund, the children are able to have experiences that families out in Nassau and Suffolk County take for granted, like going to the beach, going swimming, or even roasting
marshmallows at night, according to Eileen Rauchenberger, a Syosset resident.
Rauchenberger has been involved with the Fresh Air Fund for 13 years, and is responsible for running the foundation within Nassau County. For the past six years, she has brought back two girls from the Bronx, Veronica and Karina, to stay with her family for a week each summer. Rauchenberger herself has three children named Julia, Sarah, and Louis.
“You absorb them into your family and give them the opportunity to experience things that we get to experience, said Rauchenberger.”
While some host families, like Rauchenberger, have been participating in the Fresh Air Fund for many years, it was Rosemarie Ruk’s first year being a part of the foundation. Ruk, a Massapequa resident, hosted Denisha Watts, a resident of the Bronx. Watts has been a part of the Fresh Air Fund for three years. While staying with Ruk, Watts got a manicure and pedicure, went to the beach, went shopping, played bocce ball, went to Adventureland, and made lasagna, to name a few activities.
Ruk commented that Watts was the perfect kid to stay with her. “She’s sweet and quiet, but when I’m ready to do anything, she’s ready to roll,” she said. “We’ve had a really good time together.”
Ruk plans on being a part of the Fresh Air Fund for many years to come.
“Two out of three kids that come to a host family are invited back year after year,” added Rauchenberger.
The opportunities that each inner-city child receives are life-changing for not only the child, but for the host families as well.