One on one: providing respite to families for kids with special needs

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - For more than 20 years, the Northern Nevada R.A.V.E. Family Foundation has been dedicated to helping the community.

Executive Director Korine Viehweg said they provide care for kids with special needs from as young as 3 to 6 months to young adults.

"Respite is a temporary break for caregivers, and we provide care for children with disabilities or special health care needs, children in foster care and their siblings," said Viehweg. "The volunteer piece is we train high school and a few junior high youth to work with the kids."

Gilly Quinn is the volunteer and care respite coordinator.

She started volunteering with the organization in high school and has now turned it into a career.

"R.A.V.E. definitely gave me my passion of wanting to work with kids with disabilities," said Quinn. "I wanted to go into college to become an orthodontist but my heart was with R.A.V.E. and helping kids with disabilities."

Erin Psoinos is the mother of two-year-old Jack.

She said one of the challenges with having a child with special needs is the uncertainty of leaving them with someone else.

"The volunteers and the staff are patient, equipped, kind and they love these kids so I feel so comfortable leaving them here," said Psoinos.

Volunteers are trained to work with the kids.

They're paired up with a buddy for three to four hours and play together.

Quinn said it's a chance for the community to learn about inclusivity and give back.

"The volunteers are getting to be kids as well too, the volunteers said R.A.V.E. is their respite," added Quinn. "It's a place where they get to come for four hours out of their time and forget about the stresses of school, friends, homework and things going on at home."

For Erin Psoinos, she said it gives Jack a chance to play with other kids and the small break in the day has had a positive impact on her family.

"For my husband and I, it's made all the difference in the world," said Psoinos. "When our family comes back together after spending the time apart to decompress our family is healthier, happier and more functional."

Last year the organization had 475 youth volunteers give 13,000 volunteer hours.

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