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Summer days with starry nights

Some of the children from the Fresh Air Fund and their hosts in Saratoga County enjoying a summer day.
Submitted photo.

Some of the children from the Fresh Air Fund and their hosts in Saratoga County enjoying a summer day. Submitted photo.

— The process of hosting begins with an interview with the host family and an area coordinator. In Saratoga County, that somebody is Patty LeRoy.

“I tell people they’re just like our kids, but from different locations,” said LeRoy, who has been hosting children since 1967.

She encourages children of the host family to take part in the interview. That way she can get to know the whole family a little better and help make good matches. She added if any issues do arise during the summer, help from the fund is a phone call away.

LeRoy still keeps in touch with one of the children her family hosted, Jerry Bobe. He’s 39 now and still visits the family from time to time.

“I remember what a sweet little boy he was. When he visits now, one of his favorite things to do is to have barbeques and sit out on the deck,” she said. She also said that Bobe and members of the family have shared conversations “about life” into the early morning hours in recent years.

LeRoy’s daughter Tricia Barkman has fond memories of hosting kids while she was growing up and can’t remember a time when they didn’t host at least one child every summer. She is now the Schenectady area coordinator for the Fresh Air Fund.

Barkman advised host families to “have rules and enjoy the whole process.”

After a match is made and background checks of the host families are completed, contact by phone is made between the host family and the child’s family.

“Have fun and think of the parents,” said Barkman. Often times the children come from single-family homes and live in less than desirable parts of the city.

Morgenthau said the greatest need is for finding host families for children from 9 to 12, particularly boys.

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