November 23, 2021 Category: Our Impact Our Alums

#FreshAirForever: Meet Fresh Air Alum Dimitrius Richardson

How and when did you first become involved with The Fresh Air Fund? Who signed you up for the program? 

My mother signed me up for The Fresh Air Fund’s Friendly Towns program, which led me to a different path, and also opened my eyes to the different things that I can do in life – instead of doing what everyone else in the neighborhood was doing around me. My host family showed me different things like going to the museum, art shows and traveling to different parts of the United States – that was eye opening for me. 

Where did you grow up, and where do you live now? 

I grew up in Brooklyn and I currently live in the Bronx. I am a Corrections Captain, and I work on Rikers Island and have been working there for the past 12 years. I’m also a sergeant first class in the Army National Guard for 18 years now. 

What do you remember feeling when you left NYC for the first time?  

When I left the city for the first time, I was excited to do something different. I was excited, and a little nervous at the same time. As we traveled there, I saw more and more trees – and finally arriving there hours later, I met the middle son. He was the one closest to my age and the one I am closest to today. I can remember him running alongside the bus and as the bus was pulling up to the Framingham station. Then, he pulled out a giant sign with my name. Oh! I remember that like it was yesterday.  

Do you have a favorite Fresh Air Fund memory? 

My favorite Fresh Air memory is going to Cape Cod. We went there every summer to visit family. We used to jump into the water, and I remember we took a group photo with all the kids with the youngest kids on their shoulders.  

Dimitrius remembers spending beautiful summer days on Cape Cod enjoying the beach with other Fresh Air kids and his host family. 

Are you still in contact with your host family?  

I am! Our relationship has been great. I just came back from seeing my host mom – although the visit was unfortunate because she was actually in the hospital after a bed fall. She’s 72 now. The family has three sons – the eldest son is Jacob (Jake), the middle son is Benjamin, and the youngest son is Daniel. My host Dad passed away 15 years ago – he was a good guy. They welcomed me from day one. We went camping with another family and we went to Jake’s basketball games.  

Dimitrius is still in touch with his host family and even visited them recently! 

I went to Daniel’s wedding and Benjamin came to my wedding! My host mom even visited me a few times here in New York and stayed with my family a few times – she even met my mother! We’re not family but we became a family. 

Stay connected with The Fresh Air Fund and follow us on Instagram: @thefreshairfund, Twitter: @FreshAirFund and Facebook: @FreshAirFund to see more #FreshAirForever stories.