We have photos of "the first Elizabeth." My parents took in foster children soon after the birth of their first child - perhaps before - I'm not sure. This is the only story I remember well as it had a lasting impact. Before my older sister was born ("the second Elizabeth") they had an infant girl placed with them. She had no name. Her birth mother didn't give her one and didn't plan to. My mother had planned to name her first daughter "Elizabeth" so that is the name she gave this abandoned little one. My parents cared for and bonded with her. However, sadly enough (for my parents) Elizabeth didn't stay with them. If I remember the details correctly, she did go back to her birth mother. I'm not sure we ever found out what happened to her after that. She was almost eight months old at the time. Her baby photos are part of our family history.
After that my parents stopped doing foster care, but they reached out in another way a few years later. This was when I was probably five or six year old - maybe even younger. My parents hosted "Fresh Air Children." It seemed normal to me at the time to have a couple extra children in the house for a few weeks in the summer. More playmates!
I remember one little girl we hosted. Her mother was actually able to come for a visit and she sat in the kitchen talking to my mother and plaiting corn rows in her daughter's hair. I found it completely fascinating!
While we only hosted a year or two when I was very small, my parents again hosted when my baby sister was about six. They were able to host a little girl about the same age and I can still see the photo in my head of the two of them playing together. One so very, very blond and white and one so very, very dark and black. Two little girls separated by culture and states, but still two little girls having fun with dolls and playing together.
The Fresh Air Fund gives a great opportunity to inner city children to escape their lives for a bit. This video explains it a bit more - from a child's point of view....
Fresh Air children are boys and girls, six to 18 years old, who live in New York City. Children on first-time visits are six to 12 years old and stay for either one or two weeks. Youngsters who are re-invited by the same family may continue with The Fund through age 18, and many enjoy longer summertime visits, year after year. A visit to the home of a warm and loving volunteer host family can make all the difference in the world to an inner-city child. All it takes to create lifelong memories is laughing in the sunshine and making new friends.
The majority of Fresh Air children are from low-income communities. These are often families without the resources to send their children on summer vacations. Most inner-city youngsters grow up in towering apartment buildings without large, open, outdoor play spaces. Concrete playgrounds cannot replace the freedom of running barefoot through the grass or riding bikes down country lanes.
The Fresh Air Fun is currently hosting a holiday fundraising drive. They are a not-for-profit agency and the funds go towards helping Fresh Air children. If you'd like to help, please consider clicking on the button below and donating. Make a difference today.