May 10, 2019 Category: Stories

You Have Helped Me Become Who I Am Today – Happy Mother’s Day

Over the years, Naquan and his host mom Amanda have formed an incredibly close relationship, and he sees her as his second mother. His Mother’s Day card says it all.

Mom, for 11 years you have helped me become who I am today. I wake up every day with new challenges and I am not afraid to face them because you’ve shown me that it’s ok to do so. My views on life and people have broadened to ways I would have never imagined, and it has made me a better person.

I know that I am capable of anything I put my mind to and if I want something I can get it. I didn’t just wake up one day and tell myself this, you believed in me and helped me find my courageousness. You are so thoughtful, loving, and caring; you wake up every day ready to face something new and you never give up on us. Your arms are always wide open if we need a hug and you are always ready to guide us if we make a mistake.

Because of you I am ready to go to college and start that new chapter in my life. I am ready to face new challenges and any obstacles that may cross my journey. Having you right by my side to listen to anything I needed to get off my chest is a blessing.

YOU taught me to be all that I wanted to be, and I am beyond thankful and grateful. Because of you, I am who I am today. My life has been blessed and there are many more blessings to come. Thanks for helping me to remember what’s important in life, and today… it’s YOU! Happy Mother’s Day Mom, I love you so much!

Host Mom Amanda proudly watches Naquan share his Fresh Air Fund experiences
at the 2017 Spring Benefit

Naquan was raised by his mother and grandmother in Red Hook, Brooklyn. “I grew up in a pretty tough neighborhood,” said Naquan. “In my school there were security guards because of fights and dangerous activities in the building. And it wasn’t any better when I got home, because sometimes I would hear shots at night when I went to bed.”

His mom wanted Naquan and his twin brother and sister to have experiences beyond their neighborhood so when he was seven, she signed them up for The Fresh Air Fund.

Meanwhile, in a small, Friendly Towns community, the Hanson family signed up as a Fresh Air Fund host family. Those actions would change their lives.

“We could have never imagined that this program would be the beginning of one of the most beautiful journeys for our whole family,” Amanda shared. “What we have found is that being a part of this program has actually helped all of us, to see the world through a different lens.”

Naquan remembers his first visit, “When I got off the bus, I saw a big, bright sign with my name on it and behind that sign was a beautiful, smiling family. I had this gut feeling that the summer was going to be amazing.”

Within a few weeks, Naquan developed a strong bond with the Hansons. From learning how to swim to museum trips and family dinners, Naquan began to see them as his second family.

“My host family taught me to face my fears and to conquer my obstacles,” said Naquan.

Even when the family moved to Colorado, Amanda wasn’t going to let that stop her family’s summers with Naquan.

“My host mom did something that I didn’t really appreciate in the moment because I didn’t understand how much work and money went into doing it.” Naquan continued, “She flew from Colorado to New York to pick me up and flew back to Colorado for about three years.”

Naquan surrounded by fellow Fresh Air alumni at the 2018 Spring Benefit

For thousands of children and host families each year, The Fresh Air Fund’s Friendly Towns program offers more than a summer experience – it offers an experience that will last a lifetime.

Amanda said it best, “Thank you Fresh Air Fund for giving me one of the greatest gifts of my lifetime and thank you Naquan for awakening a part of me that may have forever remained asleep.”

Each summer, The Fresh Air Fund gives thousands of children, like Naquan, the opportunity to have a safe, enriching experience where they gain new skills, build confidence and unlock their limitless potential.

Donate to The Fresh Air Fund today to help even more kids reach their full potential.