Catasauqua Press

Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Contributed photoThe Walp family welcomes back Treece, of the Bronx, through The Fresh Air Fund’s Friendly Towns program. Contributed photoThe Walp family welcomes back Treece, of the Bronx, through The Fresh Air Fund’s Friendly Towns program.

Catty family bonds with girl from Bronx

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 by CONTRIBUTED ARTICLE in Local News

Catasauqua residents Heather and Todd Walp and their 9-year-old daughter, Mailya, signed up to host a child from New York City for one week in the summer through The Fresh Air Fund’s Friendly Towns program for the first time back in 2015. Treece, of the Bronx, now 11 years old, had such a fun week with the Walp family that summer that she’s been coming back ever since.

During Treece’s visits, the family enjoys playing sports, going to Knoebels Amusement Resort and Dorney Park, camping, swimming in the pool, roller skating, making arts and crafts, and catching tadpoles in a nearby creek.

One day, the family went peach picking, and Treece and Mailya learned how to make fresh peach cobbler.

“We’re a very active and outdoorsy family. We love showing Treece the outdoors,” Heather said.

Recalling her favorite memories with Treece, Heather couldn’t pick just one.

“They’re all so amazing,” she said.

With her excitement and endless energy, Treece sheds light on how special the simple things are.

“One morning, Treece got the mail from outside our house. She was so excited. In the city, you can’t just walk outside onto the street and grab your mail out of the mailbox like you can here. I realized that something that we do every day and never even think about can be really exciting for someone who didn’t grow up in a small town,” Heather said.

Treece and the Walp family have developed such a strong relationship that she visits Catasauqua during the winter as well. When the Walp family visited New York City, Treece’s family showed them around.

“Our families got along so well right off the bat,” Heather said.

Together, the two families went to the Statue of Liberty, World Trade Center, Empire State Building and the Bronx Zoo.

Heather encourages all families to open their hearts and home to a Fresh Air child.

“Treece has taught us so much. I thought I was giving the experience, but it turns out I am getting the experience! I’m so glad we met her,” Heather said.

Since 1877, The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free, enriching summer experiences and academic programs for more than 1.8 million New York City children from low-income neighborhoods.

Each summer, thousands of Fresh Air children visit suburban, rural and small-town communities across the East Coast and southern Canada through The Fresh Air Fund’s Friendly Towns program.

To learn more about how to become a host family in Upper Lehigh County, call Jenae Holtzhafer at 484-350-9300 or visit freshair.org.