Rashid Perkins ’12 was recently featured in a piece by the New York Times editorial board about the Fresh Air Fund. Perkins participated in the Fresh Air Fund’s summer program starting at 7 years old.
The article begins, “Rashid Perkins still remembers that first day. One summer morning, when he was 7, he left his home in Jamaica, Queens. At the Port Authority Bus Terminal, he said goodbye to his mother and boarded a bus that would take him to Needham, Mass., for a two-week stay with a host family, a trip sponsored by the Fresh Air Fund.”
It goes on to note that experience led him back to the same family for more than a decade, lifelong relationships and even to Hobart College.
Perkins is currently serving in the 2012/2013 City Year program. He earned his B.A. in history from Hobart College and minored in peer education and human relations as well as Africana studies. He was the recipient of the Deans Citizenship Award and was named to Dean’s List a number of times. He also played rugby.
The full article follows.
The New York Times
Leaving Behind the Noise of the City
The Editorial Board • April 26, 2013
Rashid Perkins still remembers that first day. One summer morning, when he was 7, he left his home in Jamaica, Queens. At the Port Authority Bus Terminal, he said goodbye to his mother and boarded a bus that would take him to Needham, Mass., for a two-week stay with a host family, a trip sponsored by the Fresh Air Fund.
He wasn’t nervous when he greeted the family, Beverlie and Morris Marks and their son Andrew, who was 5. “I had a big smile on my face,” Mr. Perkins, now 22, recalled recently. He spent the rest of his first day outside, learning to play baseball with Andrew. That night, the quiet around him made it difficult for him to fall asleep.
Those two weeks changed his life. Mr. Perkins returned to visit the family every summer for more than a decade and often spent winter breaks with them. “I became part of the family and the community,” he said. He decided to attend Hobart and William Smith Colleges after a neighbor of the Markses took Mr. Perkins on a tour of the school, the neighbor’s alma mater, in Geneva, N.Y. Mr. Perkins now works as a tutor for at-risk students at Middle School 424, in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx. He intends to study education in graduate school, but first he wants to travel. “I consider myself a natural traveler now,” he said. “The Fresh Air Fund changed my perception.”
The fund hopes to reach 9,000 New York City children this year, with 4,000 staying with host families across 13 states and Canada, and 3,000 going to Fresh Air Fund camps. An additional 2,000 will take part in year-round programs. A two-week stay with a host family costs the fund $890; a session at camp, $1,632. These programs are available only to New York City children whose families cannot afford such trips. The fund hopes to raise $10.6 million by the end of September.
Tax-deductible donations can be sent to the Fresh Air Fund, 633 Third Avenue, 14th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10017, or made online at www.freshair.org. Families who wish to be hosts can write to the same address, fill out a host inquiry online or call (800) 367-0003.