Courtesy Fresh Air Fund
Sometimes, the simplest summer traditions are the ones that are most memorable. For the Alwani family of Holliston, going blueberry picking with their Fresh Air child, Razuul, is a summertime tradition they will always look forward to. Since 2011, Robyn and Vinnie Alwani have welcomed Razuul, of the Bronx, into their home through The Fresh Air Fund’s Volunteer Host Family Program. Whether it is picking blueberries, going hiking or riding bikes, it is the simple pleasures of life outside the city that make Razuul’s summer getaway so special.
Through The Fresh Air Fund’s Volunteer Host Family Program, families from Virginia to Maine and Canada open their homes to New York City children from low-income communities. Since 1877, The Fresh Air Fund has given the joy of a free summer vacation to more than 1.7 million inner-city children, creating thousands of childhood memories in rural, suburban and small town communities every year.
After reading a pamphlet about The Fresh Air Fund in The Holliston Public Library, the Alwanis decided to become a host family. In addition to hosting Razuul, Robyn and Vinnie have given inner-city children the opportunity to experience a summer filled with green grass and fresh air since 2006.
“My children’s favorite part of summer is when Razuul visits,” said Robyn. The Alwanis enjoy taking trips to the beach, tie-dying t-shirts and going fishing. At the annual Fishing Derby at Buffumville Lake in Charlton, Robyn remembers when Razuul caught his first fish. “All three of my kids – I count Razuul as one of my children – got to go on a boat with professional fishermen. All three of them got trophies that day and had so much fun learning to fish together.”
The Alwanis make sure to keep in touch with Razuul throughout the year. “We consider Razuul to be an extension of our family,” Robyn said. Razuul was able to spend Easter vacation in Holliston last year, and more recently, the Alwani’s visited him in New York City. “It is more than just a summer relationship for us; we have been so fortunate to be connected with a child that fits so well with our family.”
The Alwani family looks forward to another summer with Razuul. “It’s a great experience, not only for the Fresh Air child, but for our family as well,” said Robyn. “It has opened my children’s eyes to new experiences, different ways of living and different cultures.”
The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency is always seeking host families to enable as many New York City children as possible to benefit from a summer experience outside of the city. To learn more about how to become a host family in Holliston, please contact Jeanne Holland, the local volunteer leader for the Southern Massachusetts area, at (508) 429-3910 or visit The Fresh Air Fund online at www.freshair.org.