During the summer months, New York City is one of the hottest, smoggiest spots in the Northeast. For kids living in some of the city's toughest neighborhoods, there's a not-for-profit organization called the Fresh Air Fund, which provides free summer vacations for kids in rural and suburban communities and at their five Upstate New York summer camps.
I always look forward to it I go, 'Oh! I can't wait until I go Upstate,'" says Enrique Cruz, a 10th grader from the Bronx, who is one of millions of kids who have participated in the Fresh Air fund.
He's been spending time in Niskayuna with the Citriniti family (Jacqueline, her husband, Tom, and their son, Luke) for the past five summers.
Host families and Fresh Air Fund children sometimes lead widely divergent lifestyles, and their shared process of adjustment isn't always easy.
"We were told that the kids aren't used to going to bed really early. They go to bed late and get up late," says Jacqueline Citriniti, Cruz's host mother. She was informed during a lengthy interview process by the Fresh Air Fund (they go to the prospective family's home to make sure they'll be a good match) that there would be differences between her family's habits and Enrique's, and that it would take a little while for them to get used to each other.
"Physical activity is a big issue, their sleep cycles are different, what they [Luke and Enrique] eat is different. ... It was tough and is still tough," Citriniti says.
Each summer the Citrinitis try to expose Enrique to things he wouldn't otherwise be exposed to at home in the Bronx.
" They showed me to a lot of great things that I hadn't learned," says Cruz.
Luke Citriniti, who is going to be a senior in high school next year, emphasized the importance of going to college and getting a good education.