LISLE — Respite Endowment Organization founders Becky and Alex Pundy started the nonprofit to give parents of special needs children a rest.
The husband and wife live in Lisle with their 6-year-old daughter, who was born with bilateral congenital cataracts, and their 8-year-old daughter, who has Asperger syndrome.
"We experience the stress and depression that parents of special needs children go through," Becky said.
At their worst, she said, the couple found themselves having marital trouble and in great need of respite.
Through the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Becky and Alex received a "mini-vacation" and were given a free hotel stay, allowing them time away from the children to take a break, Alex said.
"I'm not really sure if we would’ve made it if it wasn't for these opportunities," Becky said.
After the trip, they realized more families were going through what they were facing, and they decided to start the organization, Becky said.
"There's a lot of organizations out there that specifically target kids and helping them, but we think the part that's missing is taking care of the parent," Alex said.
The nonprofit was established in January 2013 and obtained official 501(c)(3) charitable organization status in June 2014. Families based in Lisle, Naperville or Downers Grove with special-needs children between 3- and 12-years-old qualify to receive gifts from the organization, with no cost to the family.
The nonprofit aims to provide rest, education and opportunity services for parents. Respite gifts can include spa certificates, dinner certificates and overnight hotel stays.
The education aspect consists of seminars for parents and presentations to city councils to show how special needs parenting impacts the community, Becky said.
She said they hope that in the future the organization will include an in-home care program, which is what parents and families desire most.
"When things are going so stressful, it doesn't just impact your life, but the child's life too," Alex said. "It's very important to take a break and get away from the stress, like three hours tends to be something that's good.”
For the nonprofit to grow, they are looking for financial support, as well as support from businesses, sponsorship support, awareness support and volunteers, Becky said.
The organization is planning a fundraiser in the fall.
Parents can apply for gifts and make donations online by visiting www.respiteendowment.org/.