The Fresh Air Fund is a program families participate in to give unique opportunities and experiences to children from urban areas. But when it works well, Fresh Air can also lead to lifelong friendships. Our Kat De Maria was there when the Black family, of Manlius, met six-year-old Julius Godwin four years ago. She visited with Julius and the Blacks again Friday.
MANLIUS, N.Y. -- Julius Godwin is right at home with the Black family and their friends. A naturally outspoken kid, he gets shy though expressing just what it is he likes so much about spending time with them.
"It's fun and cool and fun," Julius said, laughing.
It was four summers ago that Julius first came to the Blacks from the Bronx, as a guest of the Fresh Air Fund.
"He has a great personality, very easy to get along with. Everyone takes to him, so it was very easy for our family," said mom Laurie Black.
Sure, there were some Skype calls to mom and unfamiliar meals served at dinner.
"Spanish food. A lot of Spanish food," Julius said.
But by the time the program's two weeks were up, a bond had formed.
"He has a lot of energy and is enthusiastic about everything. So it was fun to have him as part of our family," Laurie Black said.
Tyler Black, who's a year younger than Julius, had his own motivations for keeping the kid around whom his parents said to treat nicely as a guest.
"I always like him coming because we get him these cool new gifts and then we get to play with them," Tyler Black said.
All kidding aside, though, through trips, dips in the pool, games, camp and more, the relationship between Julius and the Blacks grew.
"I felt like he was more than a guest. I felt like he was part of the family," Tyler Black said.
When asked if he still feels that same way, Tyler said yes.
Laurie Black says she keeps in touch with Julius' mom and gets updates year round.
"In the back of your mind, you think about, maybe we can have him up for other holidays, because he is part of the family," she said.
Julius says he enjoys his vacations with the Blacks. But more, after four years, he feels he has a second home in Central New York.
"I feel like they're family," Julius said.
When told the Blacks said the same thing about him, Julius smiled and said, "Sweet."