August 21, 2012
Life outside the big city
Tully family hosting Fresh Air child from the Bronx
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Lindsay Moore of Tully and Brandon Arcentales, 7, of the Bronx explore a creek with friends Friday afternoon in Tully. Brandon is a Fresh Air child spending time in rural New York with the Moore family.
TULLY — When Lindsay Moore was a 7-year-old, she was a typical young girl who liked her toys and spending time with her best friends.
She says she had a great childhood, thanks in large part to her parents, and part of that was because mom and dad participated in the Volunteer Host Family Program, a part of the Fresh Air Fund, to have a girl from New York City stay with them for a week.
“I remember it pretty well,” Moore, now 31, said at her home in the village of Tully. “Mom put me in the car and we went to pick up this kid that I hadn’t met before and I remember being antsy to see who it was going to be. Turned out to be such a positive experience.”
In Moore’s case, following in her parents’ footsteps was an easy decision. She decided she wanted to host a child from the program now that she had the opportunity as an adult.
“To go through that as a little girl was a neat experience,” she said. “When I found out I had the chance to host one of my own, I jumped because I want my sons to have the same experience I had.”
That is why Moore and her two sons are hosting Brandon Arcentales, a 7-year-old from the Bronx who arrived Thursday and is staying until this Thursday.
Moore, who runs a day care for young children at her home, signed up for the program in hopes of giving her children a similar experience. She said that because she still stays in touch with the girl her parents hosted, she felt Fresh Air would be a great way for her kids to form a similar bond.
The Fresh Air Fund benefits disadvantaged youths from New York City, providing the children with lasting memories that they may not have gotten otherwise. In total, the Fresh Air Fund says it has served more than 1.7 million children since 1877, sending them to 13 states to stay with host families. Typically, the child will stay with a family for a week or two with the hope that he or she builds a bond with the family so they can do the same thing every year.
This year there are 20 children from New York City in Central New York as part of the program.
Moore’s sons, 5-year-old Julian and 18-month-old Welles, are inquisitive. Julian, who has discovered the endless happiness he can have on the Internet playing games, is not shy. He says he’s become very close friends in the short time he has been together with Arcentales.
“We went swimming in (Green Lake) and played in the park and it was fun,” Arcentales said.
Moore said she has spoken with Brandon’s mother at length so the two can build a bond based on trust.
“I’m taking care of her son for a week,” Moore said. “I wanted her to know Brandon would be comfortable and be provided with everything he needs when he’s here.”
It’s been an action-packed stint in Central New York for Brandon, who was exhausted and asleep when a reporter visited the home. His favorite thing, he said, was going rock climbing at the Cortland YMCA, where he managed to make it halfway up the 20-foot wall.
They went to Green Lake State Park in Manlius and also spent a day at Dwyer Park in Little York, gallivanting in the kiddie pool, floating on the swings and running around like, well, kids.
Though this means a lot to Brandon and Julian, it also has a special meaning for Moore, who says she still keeps in contact with the girl her parents hosted.
Moore was quite candid in a discussion about what she gets out of the whole experience, which she hopes to repeat next year with Brandon.
“For me personally, I try not to take for granted what a beautiful area this is to live in and grow up in,” she said. “I can’t imagine living in a city where you don’t get to hang out in the back yard during the summer until it gets dark. I can’t imagine not being able to look up and see the stars on a warm summer night.”
She said that after a barbecue at a friend’s house the other night, Brandon looked up at the night sky and screamed: “Oh my gosh! Are those stars?”
To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe