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Enjoying the fresh country air in Franklin County

Fresh Air Fund provides free summer vacations each year for children from low-income communities

July 28, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com
  • Sophia Mace, Jordan Williams and Gus Mace, from left, take a pool break Thursday. Jordan is visiting the Mace family in Chambersburg, Pa., through the Fresh Air Fund.
By Jennifer Fitch, Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Ask 7-year-old Jordan Williams about the differences between Manhattan and Chambersburg, and she'll point out the latter has fewer taxi cabs.

But the differences are even greater than that, as the child has learned in two trips to Franklin County, Pa., through the Fresh Air Fund.

With her host family in Chambersburg, Jordan can swim, sleep in a tent and run barefoot through the grass. She said she most enjoys spending time with her hosts' son and daughter.

The Fresh Air Fund is a not-for-profit agency that provides free summer vacations each year for nearly 10,000 New York City children from low-income communities. Buses are dropping off children in Chambersburg several times this year.

"I just think it's a wonderful opportunity not only for the children coming from the city, ... but especially for my children," Lori Mace said.

Brian and Lori Mace first hosted Jordan in their home for 10 days last summer. There, she joined their children Gus, 8, and Sophia, 6.

Jordan returned to the Mace home Tuesday evening.

Lori Mace said she learned about Fresh Air Fund from her sister-in-law, who has fond memories from her youth of a child staying in their home. The pair still keep in touch.

Lori Mace said she had concerns about the children sharing and bonding in 2010, but those concerns disappeared when she saw how well they got along.

"She sort of fits right in and is one of the family," Lori Mace said.

Last year, the group went to a drive-in movie, Lake Tobias Wildlife Park, and Caledonia and Cowans Gap state parks. They'll be camping this year.

The sight of cornfields and smell of liquid manure seemed to surprise Jordan in 2010, Lori Mace said. This week, the girl had a big smile on her face when she spotted a hummingbird, she said.

"It's just little things we take for granted," Lori Mace said.

Fresh Air children on first-time visits to host families are 6 to 12 years old and stay for up to two weeks, according to the organization's website. Host families undergo a screening process and are not paid for their involvement in the organization.

The amount of money spent by a host family depends on the activities it chooses, Lori Mace said.

"She just does things we do," she said.

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On the Web:

www.freshair.org

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