New Ipswich family to have extra Christmas presence
The Fresh Air Fund is a nonprofit program that gets kids out of the inner city and into the woods by relying on families like the Someros to serve as hosts, according to Sara Travaglini, spokeswoman for the program. For the last seven years, Travaglini said, Tina Somero, her husband and her expanding brood of children (she's expecting No. 11 soon) have opened their doors to kids from New York during the summer.
"I've known about this program since I was a kid and I think it's just the greatest thing ever," said Tina Somero. "I like the idea of meeting these kids, bringing them here, and making an impact on our lives."
Their first Fresh Air visitor was a boy named Abraham who started visiting the Someros when he was 12.
"He was just part of our family, part of our church, part of our life," said Somero. "And we've become his extended family."
Abraham's sister, Nicole, began visiting the Someros in 2007 and has returned every year. Most Fresh Air kids visit their host families in the summer, but last year, the Someros got a call from Nicole asking if she could come for Christmas vacation, and the answer was a resounding yes.
"A lot of these kids come from split families," said Somero. Parents have to work during vacation, even on Christmas, and because the city can be dangerous, the kids end up spending a lot of time indoors, she said. Having Nicole, and possibly her brother in New Ipswich for Christmas break just seemed like a natural fit.
Keeping the kids entertained at the Somero house isn't a challenge and doesn't require much planning, said Somero.
"There's always so much going on, so much chaos, that they come right in and become part of it," she said. "My home is just so full of entertainment at all times."
Somero said she'll continue welcoming Fresh Air Fund visitors to her home as long as there are children around to play with.
"And since we're starting all over again, it's going to be at least another 18 years," she said.
For more information, visit www.freshair.org.