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Central PA volunteers attend Fresh Air Fund Friendly Town Conference in NYC

Over 200 local Fresh Air Fund volunteers, including JoAnn Gallaher, chairperson of Altoona, Stephanie Over, chairperson of Martinsburg and Kelly Over, co-chairperson of Martinsburg, gathered recently in New York City for the Fund’s 2006 Friendly Town Conference.
Each summer, close to 5,000 children, ages six to 18, enjoy free two-week vacations with volunteer host families in suburban and small-town communities. Local Fresh Air Fund volunteers recruit and interview host families, check references and coordinate Friendly Town program activities in 13 northeastern states from Virginia to Maine and Ontario, Canada.
The Fund’s 2006 Friendly Town Conference was held February 3 through February 5 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Manhattan. Volunteers attended workshops on managing the Friendly Town program and were treated to a performance by children from Footprintz Dance Club in Jamaica, New York. The weekend’s events also included speeches by Sinqueta Hicks and Bernard Guinyard, two former Fresh Air children. Sinqueta, a 19-year-old student at the College of New Rochelle training to be a nurse practitioner, and Bernard, a graduate of Temple University and Columbia University’s developmental psychology masters program, both claim that their Fresh Air experiences inspired their future careers and lifestyles.
Since 1877, the Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer vacations to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income neighborhoods. Local volunteers are currently seeking host families for the upcoming summer season. Families interested in hosting may contact Stephanie Over at 793-2573 or the Fresh Air Fund at 1-800-367-0003.
Individuals may also visit the website at www.freshair.org.