Make a difference this winter by giving caregivers a break

All types of organizations and companies have an opportunity to make a positive impact on their communities by hosting a REST (Respite Education & Support Tools) training program at their facility.

Churches, social service agencies, hospitals, corporations and other groups that welcome the public for REST's one- or two-day training program can extend goodwill throughout the community by getting involved in a worthy cause: respite care.

The REST training program equips individuals, who want to make a difference, to become volunteer respite workers. The need for volunteer respite workers and trainers is great. Throughout the United States, more than 65 million caregivers provide compassionate care - sometimes around the clock - without a break.

Caregivers could be caring for an aging parent with dementia, a child with a developmental disability, like autism, or a loved one disabled from a stroke or accident. Volunteer respite workers can allow caregivers to step away to undertake a hobby, connect with a support group, shop or simply run errands.

Volunteers who go through REST training gain the knowledge and skills they need. This includes building relationships with the caregiver and the care recipient, and creating a positive environment to handle ordinary and challenging respite situations.

Volunteers also learn such basic skills as providing auditory and visual assistance, understanding behaviors, and adapting recreational activities for individuals who are physically disabled.

"Hosting a REST training program can allow organizations to develop new community partnerships with other nonprofits, churches or volunteer groups," says Lois Sheaffer, REST program director. "Hosting REST training also can increase awareness of the services and programs your organization provides. It's a win-win."

For information on REST, a nationally recognized nonprofit program of Marklund, visit

REST will offer four training sessions this winter season for individuals that would like to become respite program trainers:

• Feb. 5-6, at Alexian Brothers Hospital, 1555 Barrington Road, Building 1, Hoffman Estates.

• Feb. 26-27, at Windsor Park Retirement Community, Carol Stream.

• March 5-6, also at Windsor Park Retirement Community.

The two-day interactive Train-the-Trainer program equips and prepares individuals to teach an eight-hour volunteer respite training class in their own communities.

Settings can include churches, universities, community groups and other organizations that wish to create a network of skilled volunteer respite care workers.

Attendees who complete the training can receive 6.75 continuing education hours through the Illinois Department of Human Services.

For information on REST, contact Wendy Berk at (630) 397-5659 or or

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