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February 15 2013


The Fresh Air Fund, By Bill Gray

Established in 1877, The Fresh Air Fund is a nonprofit organization that offers New York City’s children a respite from urban noise, crowding, and pollution by providing the opportunity to spend time in suburban and rural environments, gain a new perspective, and enjoy nature. The Fresh Air Fund works with children ages six to 18, the majority of whom come from families and neighborhoods with economic challenges. The group also assists children with special physical and emotional requirements. Since its inception, The Fresh Air Fund has benefited more than 1.7 million children.

Along with programs at its five camps in upstate New York, The Fresh Air Fund operates the Volunteer Host Family Program. Throughout 13 East Coast states from Maine to Virginia, a network of families houses children for one or two weeks in the summer. Every year, approximately 4,000 children enroll in the program with the help of over 90 city-based social service and charitable organizations.

Participating volunteer communities, called Friendly Towns, maintain committees to evaluate host families, check references, inspect homes, and provide assistance when needed. In addition, many individuals and businesses donate their time and services. For example, restaurants, bowling alleys, and other family-focused establishments may offer complimentary products and activities to children and host families. Civic organizations often arrange parties and picnics while local doctors offer free medical evaluation and treatment.

About the author: A former Co-CEO of Ogilvy Group North America, Bill Gray is an enthusiastic supporter of The Fresh Air Fund. Currently, Mr. Gray is co-owner of Hulls Highway Inc. in Southport, Connecticut.

February 15 2012

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