“I recruit the families in the Latham area to host kids in the program. They usually start out staying a week their first summer, and if they work out well, they will stay two weeks the next year,” Mangione said.
The items that are collected by the students at Forts Ferry Elementary are used to keep the kids occupied on the three-hour bus ride from the city,” said Mangione. “Once they get here, it’s all about the simple things, walking barefoot in the grass, sitting down to dinner and exploring the area. A lot of families said they’ll even go to places like Howe Caverns that they’ve never gone to before.”
Mangione added that many of the kids end up staying most of the summer and participate every year until they graduate. As the participants reach the end of the program, the host families usually show them a college campus and bring them to meet with staff at a college to discuss options for when they graduate high school.
“One girl ended up going to the University at Albany, and for many kids it’s the first time they’ve ever been on a college campus,” said Mangione.