To the editor:

I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank our Fresh Air host families and volunteer leaders in the Merrimack Valley. Because of their dedication and commitment, thousands of children from New York City’s low-income communities participated in our “Friendly Towns” volunteer host family program this summer.

I am inspired by the heartfelt stories shared by hosts who welcome our children into their homes and community, and the joy and growth it brings to everyone.

For over 140 years, The Fresh Air Fund has brought people together.

Children make new friends and forge relationships that can last a lifetime. We’ve learned that after staying with a host family, children are more confident and more comfortable meeting new and different people. Children tell me about their excitement to return to visit with a host family and all the activities ahead.

Our programs would not be possible without the generosity of our Fresh Air host families, supporters and volunteers in the Merrimack Valley. Our local volunteers, many of whom are also hosts, interview prospective host families, help recruit new families and plan special activities.

I would also like to thank the individuals and businesses who give their time and resources to ensure the Friendly Towns program is is such a success.

The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.8 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. Each summer, thousands of children visit volunteer host families along the East Coast and Southern Canada. Visit to learn more about hosting a child

Fatima Shama

Executive Director

The Fresh Air Fund

New York

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