Written by Betsy Abraham Friday, 30 August 2013 00:00
When Janice and Michael Cunningham first signed up to host an inner city kid in their home for two weeks through the Fresh Air Fund, they never imagined they would be adding a new member to their family.
They first joined the program in 2005, but their initial experience didn’t meet their expectations. The child they were matched with didn’t have the same interests as their family, who loved playing sports and being active, and the couple had hesitations about continuing another year.
“Our child just wanted to be inside and play video games. And then the coordinator talked us into it and said certain kids are a match to some people but not every family,” Janice said.
But then they met Sean, a young boy from the Bronx.
“I’m so glad we stuck with it a second time,” Janice says. “He’s a great match.”
The match is so good, that Sean has been returning to the Cunningham’s for the past six years. Every summer he returns to the Cunningham’s for two weeks of playing baseball, going to water parks, swimming, playing video games and enjoying the simple pleasures of unadulterated childhood.
But the fun extends past the Fresh Air Fund. Sean has become a part of the family, visiting regularly and going on vacations and day trips with them throughout the year.
Michael motivates Sean, as well as his own two sons, Brian, 16, and James, 11, to get good grades so that they can all go on vacations together. Sean also keeps in touch with Brian, and James through texting and Xbox.
“He fits in and he’s another part of the family,” says Michael. “The kids are best friends with him.”
“Having him over is really fun because normally when I don’t have any friends over, I have to do something (boring) but when I have him over I always have a backup plan,” James said.
The Cunninghams found out about the Fresh Air Fund from Michael’s sister, who had hosted a child in her home in Levittown. Seeing the positive experience they had, they decided to participate in the program. And since they got involved, they have benefited just as much as Sean.
“It’s nice opening your home to other people and giving them new experiences and tools for learning and growing that they might not get in the city,” Janice said. “There’s a lot more freedom here. Just the thought that we exposed him to all of that has been a very positive thing for all of us.”
The Cunningham’s home in Westbury is an oasis for a kid like Sean, who lives in an apartment in the Bronx with his mother and grandmother.
“I like how when I come out here I get to play sports a lot. There’s more open space,” Sean says.
The Fresh Air Fund has been partnering up inner city, low-income children with families in suburban and rural communities since 1887. Kids are treated to a free, summer experience away from the city and often make bonds that last a lifetime. Many have a misconception that hosting a child is full of costly activities, but Janice insists that the kids are always happy to do normal things such as riding bikes or playing outside.
And as for Michael and Janice, they are glad they didn’t give up on the program.
“If you get a kid who’s not a match to your family, don’t give up because you might not meet your special child. You can become a true family. It’s definitely life changing,” she said.
To find out more about the Fresh Air Fund, visit freshairfund.org.
Saturday, 21 December 2013 00:00
At last, New Cassel has a supermarket and it’s a place where I intend to spend a lot of time shopping, not only because it is just a five minute walk from my house but because it gives me the opportunity to easily explore food products that I am unfamiliar with.
Located at 735 Prospect Ave., a few blocks from the intersection of Prospect, Brush Hollow Road and Union Avenue, Ideal Food Basket especially caters to the Hispanic and Haitian residents in the community, offering fresh vegetables and fruits, frozen and canned specialties and other prepared items from Mexico, Central America and Haiti, as well as typical supermarket items.
Friday, 20 December 2013 00:00
On Dec. 11, eight lucky young music hopefuls were granted the dream of a lifetime— strutting their stuff on-stage while playing with a celebrated popular music act in front of a packed auditorium.
Westbury’s Center Stage Music School sent an elite selection of hand-picked violin students to play on the stage of the NYCB Theater at Westbury with The Piano Guys, a music group and YouTube sensation whose unique calling card involves catchy combinations of classical and popular music.
Veronica Sanchez, Center Stage Director and co-owner, said that the opportunity for some of her kids to play a gig with The Piano Guys came through a chance meeting she had with the manager of the NYCB Theater.
Thursday, 12 December 2013 00:00
Congratulations to the Westbury boys varsity basketball team who defeated East Meadow High Schoool 57 to 51 to win the championship game of the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament.
The tournament was dedicated to Coach Martin “Bunky” Reid and the 1985 state championship team. Before the finals of the tournament, a poster signed by many of the players from the 85’ team was presented to Mrs. Reid to honor her son.
Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:00
The wrestling team at Westbury High School looks forward to a fresh start this season. Last year, they struggled to stay atop the Nassau Conference, but this time, the team has a lot of valuable pieces that are crucial for them to flip the script and potentially climb to the top of the standings.
One of the shining stars in the school’s team this year is the dominating Raeco Jackson. For the past two seasons, Jackson has had an extraordinary winning record in the 113 and 120 weight classes. “Last year, my record was 28-5 and the year before that it was 30-5,” he said. With a total record of 58 wins and 10 losses, he has won 85 percent of his matches. His impressive feat helped Jackson receive all-county honors last season.
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