RUMFORD POINT — Early Wednesday evening, Jenna and Darlene Ginsberg were enjoying a formal supper at the dining room table with Priscilla Galindo, 14, of New York City.

Normally, the Ginsbergs eat supper in the living room at their bed and breakfast, The Perennial Inn, while sitting on the couch and watching television news.

But that routine changes every summer when Galindo, a Fresh Air Fund child, comes to visit her host family. The Fresh Air Fund is an agency that provides free summer experiences for children living in disadvantaged neighborhoods of New York City.

Priscilla’s parents are separated but live in the Bronx. She stays with her mother in a small home and visits her father. She has two sisters. Her parents have no car, so Priscilla uses public transportation and rides the subway by herself.

When not in a charter school getting straight As in math, she helps her mother make a living by selling her homemade tacos from a cart in a park, or works with her father, who sells ice cream from a truck.

But the only “country” experience they have is Central Park in Manhattan.


Every summer, she leaves New York City on the Fresh Air Fund bus with other neighborhood youngsters for a nine-hour ride to Auburn. Then it’s another hour ride with the Ginsbergs in their car to Rumford. Priscilla likens the journey to extreme cultural shock. After all, she was only 9 years old when she first arrived in 2010.

“It’s like a new experience here,” said the shy teen who was born in Oaxaca, Mexico. “I was 4 when I came to America, but I don’t remember it.

“I mean, over there (in the Bronx), it’s a city and there is a lot of noise and different views, and I like being here (in Rumford), because it is more quiet and I have my own space,” she said.

This is Galindo’s fifth summer staying with the Ginsbergs at their 19th-century Victorian farmhouse and dairy farm on Martin Road. The couple bought it in October 2003 and converted it into a bed and breakfast.

They raise pigs and chickens and care for retired fair draft horses. Darlene Ginsberg also runs a business raising Killingworth Labrador retrievers. But their mainstay business is operating a timing company for competitions like marathons, triathlons and winter races across New England.

With Priscilla in the house, the couple’s busy work lives slows somewhat. Meals mean more conversation at the dinner table and more time spent nurturing a teenager and meeting her needs, whether it’s for the week or two she can usually stay or the rare, month-long visit.


“It definitely slows us down a little bit, because I would be going to Nantucket this weekend (to work a race) if Priscilla wasn’t here,” Darlene Ginsberg said.

Instead, Jenna will go to Nantucket on Friday while Darlene tends to her dog-raising business and takes Priscilla shopping for school clothes. They also enjoy shopping for the fun of it.

When they are working at some competition events, the couple takes Galindo with them and they stay in hotels and take her sightseeing.

“We were at a race in Camden last weekend,” Darlene said. “Priscilla got up at 4 a.m. and slept all the way to Camden, mind you. She does sleep in the car.”

Priscilla and Jenna erupted in laughter.

“I think that’s one of the biggest things for her that’s different — a car,” Darlene said.


“Back home, if we want to go somewhere, we use the train,” Priscilla said.

“And you just can’t go out the door here (to go to a variety store) like she can do at home,” Darlene said. “Here, we have to drive to it. We have no convenience stores.”

Jenna said the closest store to their home in Rumford Point is 8 miles away at Stony Brook Recreation and Camping on Route 2 in Hanover.

“Both at my dad’s house and at my mom’s house, right around the corner, there’s a store,” Priscilla said.

She said it was her mother who got her into the Fresh Air Fund. “My mom thought it would be a good idea for me to go away from home so she signed me up. I was 9.”

Jenna Ginsberg said she learned about the program from a friend on Facebook. The couple applied to be a host family.


“At the time we did it, we wanted two girls between (the ages) of 8 and 11,” Darlene Ginsberg said.

Fresh Air officials agreed to send them two since there are no children in the Ginsberg’s neighborhood. The couple spent a week and a half with Galindo and another girl and learned there is a learning curve for debut host families.

The couple was working full-time and trying to take the children around daily to visit places. It took them a while to learn they could keep them entertained on their farm and provide what the big city youngsters needed most — alone space.

“The first year, it was hard,” Jenna said. “We tried to do something every day with them and, oh my God, exhausting.”

“It was very exhausting,” said Darlene, who has two grown children of her own.

“You don’t try to entertain your kid every day,” Jenna said.


“It took a while the first year for me to realize that Priscilla doesn’t have ‘alone space,'” Darlene said.

“Summers here, this is the only time of the year that she has her own bedroom, her own bathroom — everything her own. But she has us here and she can be part of whatever we are doing.”

They wanted Priscilla back for the second summer, but not the other girl, because she damaged their home, Jenna said. For the next two years, Priscilla and another girl were sent to them. After that, it was just Priscilla.

“We try to keep it realistic now,” Darlene said. “And now she likes being ‘an only child.’

“She loves having her own room and her own TV and her own little laptop that she can work on. It’s very difficult at her home in New York City. Her family, they share a very small space, so it’s nice for her to have a lot of space here. This house is so big.”

Priscilla will be homeward bound on Monday. Darlene will drive her to the Fireside Inn in Lewiston to meet the Fresh Air bus. But instead of feeling sad, Priscilla said she’ll be happy.

“I can come back four more years now,” she said. “When I turn 18, I no longer can come back with Fresh Air. But I know I’m coming back next year, so I don’t feel sad about it. But I’m going to be sad to be alone again.”

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