August 25, 2020 Category: Stories

The Brown Family: A Decade of Adventures, Friendships and Growth

“Fresh Air children have fun running in the grass, riding bikes and swimming – the simple things that you don’t get to do when you’re in the city,” shared host mom and Fresh Air volunteer leader, Pam Brown.

The Brown family always wanted to host through The Fresh Air Fund’s Friendly Towns program. Host Dad, Jeff, grew up in New York City and knew that the program would be a great fit for his family. Once their children were old enough – Pam and Jeff knew that it was the perfect time. 

Fast forward and 17-year-old Jeffrey from Queens has been visiting the Brown family since 2011! Every year, Jeffrey travels to Harvard, MA where he gets to experience summer outside of the city with the Brown family.  

Jeffrey with his Fresh Air brothers, Ben and Andrew, during his earlier visits. 

“Every summer brings something new – I’ve learned to swim and even experienced hiking for the first time,” Jeffrey says. “I have a lot of great memories with the Brown family. “

After spending so many summers together, Jeffrey and his host brothers, Ben and Andrew, have bonded as brothers. Now teens, they still enjoy trying new things together and having as many outdoor adventures as they can. 

“We love biking on different trails, but I also like going to the nearby pond with Ben and Andrew to catch up and just hang out,” Jeffrey said.   

“Jeffrey became part of our family during the summers he was here,” says host mother, Pam Brown. “We would take him canoeing, kayaking, swimming, biking, boating and go out for ice cream. Every summer has been special for us.” 

“I’ve gained a different perspective from it… hearing different stories about Jeffrey’s life has been a real learning experience,” Andrew said.  

Jeffrey has visited the Brown family every summer since 2011. 

During Jeffrey’s visit last summer, the Brown family decided to take him on his first college visit with Ben since they were both rising seniors.  

“The college tours really helped Ben and Jeffrey figure out what they liked and didn’t like in a college campus. Jeffrey was very excited to learn about what options were available to him and where he could see himself in the future,” Pam said.  

The Brown family has really enjoyed learning about Jeffrey’s experiences in the city and have even visited him in Queens several times. They learned about Jeffrey’s neighborhood in Queens, explored other parts of New York City and even went to a Mets game together!

“The relationships that are built between host families and Fresh Air kids are so great,” says Pam. Pam finds special ways to remember each visit and makes Jeffrey a photo book each year filled with memories they’ve created.  

While Jeffrey could not visit this summer, the Brown family continues to stay in touch with him and hope to have more adventures next summer! 

“My Fresh Air Fund experience has been exciting, interesting and full of love,” Jeffrey says. “It’s created a place for me to meet new people, learn new things and have another family that really cares about me.”  

Learn more about the Friendly Towns Program and read more stories about how a summer truly can last a lifetime.