Meet Robin Silver-Merriweather
We recently spoke with Robin Silver-Merriweather, an alum of The Fresh Air Fund’s Friendly Towns Program, about the impact of her Fresh Air experience on her life. After spending summers with The Fresh Air Fund as a child, Robin was a CIT and later a counselor at The Fund’s Camp ABC! Currently living in Brooklyn, Robin is an associate in the financial sector at a private equity firm.
Q: Where did you grow up?
I was born in Manhattan and my parents decided to move to Fort Greene, Brooklyn when I was young because my father, a Korean War veteran and welder, worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Q: How did you first become involved with The Fresh Air Fund? Who signed you up for the program?
My mom was a little nervous because I was so young, but she knew that I was one of these children that would just adapt to the situation. I was six years old and my mother had gotten information about The Fresh Air Fund. My first experience was with the Friendly Towns program staying with a family named the Millers from Maryland. I spent two summers with them in 1966 and 1967 and then, in 1968, I stayed with a family named the Simmons.
I remember vividly waiting for the bus. I was really excited about traveling.
Q: What are some favorite memories?
My favorite memories are of just running outside from sunup to sundown, just playing in the grass. I loved their kitchen and I remember waking up every morning to the smell of fresh cinnamon buns being made.
Q: What were some favorite activities?
We loved just doing regular kid things. I didn’t know how to ride a horse before I went away and I went horseback riding for the first time. We also went canoeing, played miniature golf, read a lot and went swimming. When we were going through our teenage years, we collected the Tiger Beat magazines and enjoyed listening to music together. We just did regular kid things.
Q: Can you share about your experience as a Camp ABC CIT and counselor?
I was a Counselor in Training (CIT) and then was a village leader at Camp ABC. I knew that I wanted to give back to The Fresh Air Fund. I loved to see the delight on the kids’ faces when they made s’mores, learned camp songs, and went swim, canoeing and created arts and crafts.
Q: Can you tell us more about your professional journey?
I did not start in the financial sector initially. I first worked as a medical assistant in hospitals until I decided to apply as a flight attended for a U.S based airline. I continued to work in the airline industry as a flight service manager for seven years and in 1992 I went back to the healthcare industry. Then in 2000, I wanted to try something different and started working in the financial sector. It was a little frightening because I felt like I was really out of my comfort zone, but it has been really rewarding ever since.
I found that my experiences with The Fresh Air Fund gave me the confidence that I could do anything or go anywhere, so that’s why I decided to try new things and work as a flight attendant – because I wanted to see more people in different places, and that gave me that opportunity.
Q: Can you describe The Fresh Air Fund in three words?
Impactful, Joyous, Transformative.
Impactful because of how important The Fresh Air Fund was for me between 1966 and 1973. It made a difference in my life considering the things I was experiencing at school. I had the good fortune of having my mother and The Fresh Air Fund.
It was transformative for me because I got the opportunity to see different perspectives, different places and different customs.
Joyous because I looked forward to it so much – Fresh Air summers were like magic.
Are you or someone you know a Fresh Air alum? Fill out our form – FreshAir.org/alum/