Volunteer To Be A Host Family
The Fresh Air Fund’s Host and Volunteer applications will be available in January 2023. If you are interested in joining our email list to receive the application in January, please complete this form.
As a reminder, The Fresh Air Fund only provides 24/7 support and program coverage during the summer months while the program is in session. We look forward to a great Summer 2023!
Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is not required for children, volunteer host families and volunteers participating in 2023 Fresh Air Fund summer programs. The Fresh Air Fund strongly encourages up to date COVID-19 vaccinations and all staff are required to have up to date vaccinations.
On their Fresh Air visits, children ride bikes, learn to swim, build sandcastles and discover the wonders of the nighttime sky. Many Fresh Air children are re-invited to stay with the same host family year after year and form friendships that last a lifetime.
When you host a child for one week during the summer, you forge friendships and inspire new perspectives – opportunities that shine well beyond summer.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Who can go to Friendly Towns?
- Who are volunteer host families?
- Who are Fresh Air children?
- Can host families request a Fresh Air child based on age and gender?
- Do children return to the same host family year after year?
- How are host families managed and supported locally?
- Why do host families enjoy the Friendly Towns program?
- What does The Fresh Air Fund provide?
- How do I sign up to become a host family?
- How can communities support the program?
Who can participate in the Friendly Towns program?
The Fresh Air Fund will be operating the traditional Friendly Towns program for Summer 2022 on a limited basis in limited geographic areas. The Fund will contact eligible Fresh Air children and host families.
Who are volunteer host families?
Host families come in all shapes and sizes; anyone with room in their heart and home is welcome to apply to host a child. Volunteer host families live in rural, suburban and small town communities. Fresh Air host families come from different types of homes and neighborhoods, but they are all able to provide a safe and welcoming home and share the simple joys of summer in their communities with Fresh Air children. Every host family must go through a rigorous process, including a home safety inspection, an interview, a reference check and a background check.
Who are Fresh Air children?
Fresh Air Fund children are boys and girls, ages seven to 18, who live in New York City’s underserved communities. Their parents/guardians register them for the program through community partners such as social service agencies throughout NYC.
Can host families request a Fresh Air child based on age and gender?
Yes, host families are welcome to invite a boy or girl between 7 and 13 years old for their first visit. We are also looking for host families who are able to welcome children with special needs.
Do children return to the same host family year after year?
Yes, many host families host the same child year after year and build relationships from summer to summer. Some children also enjoy visiting different families so they can experience and learn about different places.
How are host families managed and supported locally?
Host families are part of “Friendly Towns.” Friendly Towns are volunteer communities managed by a local committee and volunteer leader who promote the program, interview and screen host families and arrange all local details for Fresh Air visits.
Why do host families enjoy the Friendly Towns program?
Host families say that they enjoy sharing and rediscovering the beauty of their own communities with a Fresh Air child and creating new memories together. They also enjoy learning about a Fresh Air child’s culture and traditions.
What does The Fresh Air Fund provide?
The Fresh Air Fund provides transportation to and from Friendly Towns, on scheduled buses. If the timing of the local bus dates do not work for a host family, special transportation can be arranged but is generally the financial responsibility of the host family. The Fresh Air Fund also provides liability insurance and 24/7 support from social workers during the summer season, and covers any medical expenses that the child’s insurance does not cover.
How do I sign up to become a host family?
The first step to becoming a host family is completing this link. After you complete this form, one of our local volunteers will follow up with you to share more information and learn more about your interest in the program. Completing the form is a request to learn more- NOT a commitment to host. A volunteer will schedule an interview, where every family member and anyone else who will be spending a significant amount of time with the Fresh Air child must be present. You will complete a detailed application and background check forms, and the volunteer will inspect your home and complete a safety checklist. Finally, the volunteer will check 3 references for your family (with at least one being a professional who works with children).
How can communities support the program?
Local businesses are often willing to donate services that will help host families plan fun activities while they are hosting. Some businesses or local organizations plan and host picnics or parties. Anyone interested in supporting can reach out to their local volunteer or call the NYC office for more information. Please note, there are numerous volunteer opportunities on local committees that do not involve hosting, so if you are interested in being involved but not sure hosting is right for your family, please do reach out!