Dominic Canesh hugs his summer host Lara Vazquetelles of Delmar as her daughter looks on.
Photo by Marcy Velte.
continued Lara Vazquetelles said she and her husband, Daniel, opted to take part in the Fresh Air Fund program a few years after getting married. They both had steady jobs and had the room at home. She remembered her own parents had hosted several kids through the program while growing up.
“It’s really a way for these kids to get out of their environment and have some new experiences,” she said.
According to the nonprofit, each summer 4,000 children from New York City visit host families in 13 states. So far, about 1.7 million children have taken part in the program since 1877.
The Vazquetelles hosted brothers for a few years, but then took a break to have their own children. They felt it was important to wait until the kids were old enough to handle the experience of having a new person in their home every year.
Four years ago, they decided to host another child, but this time they opted for a boy around the age of their son, Andrew. They felt it would be easier for the two to bond, and it helps that the program allows the host family to request the gender and age of the child who visits.
Lara Vazquetelles now jokes that the two boys get together so well, it’s like having a second set of twins.
The kids go hiking, camping and biking. They also go to the movies, play video games and go on family outings. Lara Vazquetelles said the relationship has been beneficial for everyone involved.
“I encourage people to try it,” she said. “Not everyone will have the wonderful experience that we have had, but everyone will all have an experience that they learn from. It’s the chance to learn about someone from a different aspect of life.”
Canesh said he likes seeing how other people live in a different area from where he grew up, and the other types of activities that are available outside of the city.