As seen on Daily Herald website.
Calvary Lutheran Church, Wood Dale, Ill., now offers respite care services for caregivers of adults and children with special needs, ever since members have gone through specialized training through REST (Respite Education & Support Tools).

Respite – or short-term, temporary relief for those caring for a family member or other loved one – remains a crucial need throughout the nation, with more than 67 million individuals providing care for an elderly parent, spouse, or child with disabilities at least 20 hours per week, sometimes without support.

Earlier this year, teens and adults from Calvary took part in the REST training course through Voice of Care, a service organization of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The congregation looks forward to seeing its new respite ministry grow, said Dawn Leardi, director of Christian Education at Calvary. “We want to reach out and meet the needs of our community. It’s a lot of work, but we are excited about the task ahead of us.”

On Sept. 12, Calvary held a Back-to-School respite event, which included lunch, a hands-on Bible lesson, craft and the opportunity to participate in a Hoops-for-Pups fundraiser for K-9 Comfort Dogs of Lutheran Church Charities.

Among those in attendance: Lisa, 31, and her mother, Betsy.

“The event was so nice,” Betsy said. “Lisa enjoyed the activities and the attention she received from everyone, especially the teens who took the time to talk with her and help her feel welcome and accepted.”

“The event allowed Lisa to practice her social and communication skills,” Betsy added. “Events like this get Lisa out into the community to get to know and interact with others.”

“I am so glad Lisa felt comfortable,” Leardi said. “We want to provide a welcoming environment – a place where families could come for a break.”

Upcoming respite events at Calvary include a Reformation Chapel Service and lunch, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 25, and a Family Advent Night, from 4 to 6 p.m. on Nov. 22. For more information, contact Dawn Leardi at 630-766-2838.

For information on REST, contact Lisa Esposito, REST program coordinator, at 630-397-5656 or lesposito@restprogram.org or visit www.restprogram.org.