“We have a pool, do you like to swim?” Noelle Giddings of Sagaponak, asked her Fresh Air child, Migale, back in 2010. “Oh yes, I love it!” Migale responded passionately, “I’m going to be really good at it.” It only took Giddings a few moments afterwards to realize Migale had never in fact been in a pool, he simply had a ‘can-do’ attitude. Migale’s confidence and enthusiasm in every feat he takes on are just some of the few traits Giddings loves about her Fresh Air child.
The Fresh Air Fund is an independent, not-for-profit agency that has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.8 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. Each summer, over 4,000 children visit volunteer host families in rural, suburban and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada.
As a young adult living in New York City, Giddings was familiar with The Fresh Air Fund but did not live in the country to be able to host a child. She always knew once she had a home, a yard, and children of her own, she would host a Fresh Air child with her family. Giddings dream finally came true four years ago when Migale, now age 14, visited Giddings, her husband Kent Feuerring, and their children Jonas and Pearl, for Migale’s first time on Long Island.
Migale’s first summer on Long Island, The Art Farm camping program donated a few days for Migale to join his host brother and sister at camp. Apprehensive at first, Migale wasn’t sure he would enjoy himself. Contrary to Migale’s initial reservations, Migale returned to The Art Farm summer after summer, even when his host brother and sister had other engagements. Migale proved to be such an integral part of the program that he was even invited back this summer to assist with The Art Farm staff. Consequently, the Giddings-Feuerring family members are not the only Hamptons residents looking forward to Migale’s return each summer; he is truly adored by the entire community.
Giddings continues to support Migale even throughout the school year. “I’ve become very close to his mom,” Giddings explains, “it’s nice that Migale has two support systems to turn to if he is in need.” Giddings sees Migale as just another member of the family, and treats him just as she would her own children. During the summer, Migale will have chores just like her other children. During the school year, Giddings will check in with Migale’s school work, simply because she wants him to succeed as she knows he can.
For Giddings, the opportunity to host a New York City child every summer is so rewarding, she wishes that every family got to experience the joy that the Fresh Air children bring to their homes. “The kids are so happy and so excited to be here, and the families are just as happy to have them,” Giddings explains, “it takes such little effort to give these kids such a great gift.”
The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency is always seeking host families to enable as many of New York City children as possibly to benefit from a summer vacation outside of the city. To learn more about becoming a host family, please call Deborah Brown at 631-474-3279 or visit our website at www.freshair.org.