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Jamesville family finds value in "fresh air"

For nearly a decade, the Vogler's have welcomed Chelsea Rojas, a Brooklyn teen, into their quiet, rural home in Jamesville. The opportunity came as part of a program offered by The Fresh Air Fund -- an independent, not-for-profit agency that allows New York City children to enjoy free summer vacations with families in suburbs and small communities.

"Every summer, close to 5,000 children visit suburban and small town communities across 13 northeastern states and Canada through the Fund's Friendly Town program," said Kaitlin Hoffman, public relations assistant, Fresh Air Fund.

The purpose is to allow children living in disadvantaged communities to get away from hot, noisy city streets in order to enjoy time spent in the open air -- be it in a home in the suburbs or in smaller communities such as Jamesville.

The agency works closely with volunteer host families who simply want to share their home and are committed to taking in an inner-city child -- anywhere from age 6 to 18 (first-time hosts up to age 12) -- for a period of two weeks or more.

"Lisa Vogler and her two daughters (Ashley and Amanda) have been hosting Chelsea Rojas for eight years and this summer marks her ninth visit to Jamesville," Hoffman said. "I met Chelsea in New York before she came up to the Vogler's and it was clear that she was excited to return to her second home."

There are no financial requirements for hosting a Fresh Air child, and host families are not paid, but the rewards are vast.

"Hosting a fresh air child has enriched our lives in countless ways and I would not trade the experience for anything," said Lisa Vogler, host mom.

Through an interview with DeWitt Times Editor Tami S. Zimmerman, both Rojas and Vogler embraced the opportunity to explain in their own words what the program means to them.

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