A group of 27 children from New York City arrived in Loudonville recently to spend a week exploring the Capital District and enjoying many of the summertime freedoms they aren’t afforded in the city.
Fresh Air Fund host families greeted the children as they arrived at the Christ our Life Church in Loudonville.
The Fresh Air Fund is an independent, not-for-profit organization that began in 1877 to give children from inner city, low-income communities the opportunity to get out of the city and enjoy fresh country air. When the organization began in the 19th century, “fresh air” was thought to be a cure for tuberculosis.
Many families that host a child have participated in the program in the past, which is how the Donohues of Loudonville decided to take part.
“I did it many, many years ago, but this is our first time as a family doing it. Being a teacher by profession, I just wanted to have the family and our kids experience this for the first time,” said Danielle Donohue.
Darren and Danielle Donohue have two children, Katie, 8, and Jack, 6. Darren owns a business in Loudonville and Danielle was a teacher in Troy, but is now a stay-at-home mom. Their Fresh Air child, Ashley, an 8-year-old from Queens, is participating in the program for her first time and said she is most looking forward to swimming.
The family has lots of activities planned to help her make the most of her stay Upstate. With everything from swimming lessons, Fourth of July fireworks and even a cooking class planned for the kids, the Donohues are excited to welcome Ashley into their home.
“We’re very happy and looking forward to opening our home and hearts to Ashley,” said Danielle.
The LaChapelle family of Delmar has been participating in the program for the past five years. They got involved because Amy LaChapelle’s family participated when she was younger.
“When I was a child, my family did it. We had a girl stay with us. My husband and I like to give back to the community so we thought we would do this,” said LaChapelle.
Ralph, 9, from Brooklyn, is coming back for his fourth year and Christian, who is from the Bronx, is participating for his second year. The boys said their favorite part is the freedom and all the time they get to spend on the water.
“We’re going to go swimming, roast some s’mores, go out on the boat and go to Great Escape. … Last year, we caught fireflies because they had never even seen fireflies before,” said Amy.
Many of the kids come back as long as they can. As long as they are invited back, the kids can participate from the ages of 5-17. Chairwoman of the Rensselaer County chapter, Tenniel Hansen, has had Troyvon, 17, come up from Brooklyn to visit for the past 11 years. Troyvon and his twin brother are moving to the area to go to Hudson Valley Community College in the fall.
For more information on how to get involved or to make a donation go to freshair.org.