As summer approaches, The Fresh Air Fund is encouraging families to consider host a child.

The Fresh Air Fund is an independent, not-for-profit agency that has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. Each summer, over 4,000 children visit volunteer host families in rural, suburban and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada.

The Thompson family of Trumbull has been a host family for the last few years.

“My daughter, Bridie, wanted a sister, so we decided to host a Fresh Air child her age,” Gordana Thompson about her decision on joining The Fresh Air Fund’s Volunteer Host Family Program. Prior to hosting, the Thompsons were foster parents but did not have the time to devote for fostering any longer. Therefore, they thought hosting would be a rewarding alternative.

“It’s a really nice way to do something nice for someone,” she said.

Nine-year-old Jhasmelle from Queens, N.Y. first ventured off to Trumbull in 2010 to meet her host family.

“Almost immediately, Jhasmelle was a member of our family,” Thompson said.

The Thompson children and Jhasmelle get along well and are always entertained by one another when she comes to visit,” she said. “Bridie often expresses how she wishes she could play with her throughout the year.”

When they are together, the children partake in typical summer activities. They go to walking through local trails, splash around in the town pool and run through the grass in the backyard. Last summer, they had the opportunity to take Jhasmelle to her first water park, The Great Wolf Lodge.

“This is a sensational experience for not only your Fresh Air child, but for your own children as well,” Thompson said. “It’s a nice way to volunteer and give back by just doing a little. I would encourage anyone to do it, it’s only for a short amount of time and the child blends perfectly with your own family.”

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 the Monroe area, contact Marie Athans, the local volunteer leader at 203-426-7137 or visit The Fresh Air Fund online at www.freshair.org.