The Nichols family likes to give back. They are involved with their church, and perform community service through the many organizations to which they belong. Terri and Wayne Nichols and their children Jeremy, Jordan and Jess must not have felt their lives were full enough, because back in 2005, they decided they would also sponsor a “Fresh Air Child” from New York City.
A good idea – to help a New York City kid get some fresh air and a little respite from pavement and rough streets – has earned them a lifelong friendship.
Seven-year-old Frankie Victorin of the Bronx arrived on the “Fresh Air” program bus to spend the summer with a family he had never met, seven years ago.
“We picked him up from the bus in Rochester, and he was very shy, and uncomfortable … for about the first hour!” laughed Terri Nichols, his “summer mom”.
Although she admitted you cannot request a particular age child, Terri also had it in the back of her mind, that a boy of about her son Jordan’s age would be great for both boys. They lucked out, as Jordan and Frankie have become very fast friends over the past 7 years. Both Jordan and Frankie also have birthdays in November (11th for Jordan, and 14th for Frankie), and both will be 16 this year. They enjoy “extreme sports” together and can be seen motorbiking and 4-wheeling all over the extensive Nichols property on Canandaigua Road.
Terri was told early on that kids in the Fresh Air program are appreciative and generous. She finds that this is especially true of Frankie. While her own son Jordan often leaves the table right after dinner, Frankie will sit and watch the news with the family after the meal, and clean up the table. He likes to give back.
He now feels comfortably at home with his hosts, who are now more like family. He visits for two weeks each year through the Fresh Air Program, but will often be invited to visit during school holidays as well.
Frankie’s mom, Rhodesia is very happy with the arrangement, as it gives Frankie a fun summer, and it gives her time with his other two siblings at home. “He rarely gets homesick. We keep him busy all summer,” Terri noted.
Sponsor families for the Fresh Air Program at vetted carefully with interviews, home visits and fingerprinting. But once you are accepted, you are in.
Frankie and Jordan are always a part of Gananda Rotary events where Terri and her daughter Jess are members.
They have taken their “summer son” on many family trips. “He loves to go camping with us,” Terri indicated. They have taken him to Niagara Falls, Seabreeze Park, Darien Lake, and other day trips. At his Bronx home Frankie tends not to go out at night, due to the danger that is sometimes out on the city streets.
“I remember when Frankie first came here, he had never seen a frog, and wanted to take one home,” Terri told. He also acknowledged that he had never seen a cherry tree or tasted the fruit.
He loves going to Wegman’s and especially likes their Marco Polo bread , and Buffalo Wing Sauce. He does not like celery or carrots.
Swimming is a big part of his summer at the Nichols home. He had taken swim lessons before he came for the first time, and he and Jordan spend a great deal of time in the Nichols in ground pool.
He has changed a lot over these 7 years. Frankie has matured and grown up. He used to be rounder, but now is growing up not out.
Sadly, the Fresh Air Program only allows kids to visit until they are 18, but this will not keep the Nichols from having him back often.