Saturday is Family Day Out, when a couple or single parent leaves the kids at First Presbyterian Church or University United Methodist Church for a day to run errands or just to rest.
"When parents drop off their children, they look exhausted," Cara says. "When they come back at four o'clock, they've dressed. She has on makeup. They've slept and had showers. It's just a break for things we take for granted."
Parents who can't afford Respite Care services pay sliding scale fees. Others are accepted on scholarship, just one of the endeavors funded by individuals and organizations. Grants come from such entities as The United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County and the San Antonio Area Foundation. Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas provides funding to CentroMed to deliver wellness services to the children of Respite Care and their siblings.
The Valero Texas Open, Golf of San Antonio, and the PGA Tour have contributed too. Bert mentions several more good friends, including Bill Greehey, chairman of the board at Valero Energy Corporation, Ed Whitacre, chief executive officer of AT&T, and Rosemary and Greg Kowalski, founder and president, respectively, of RK Group, a catering service.
In a way, staff members give of their time too. Many could earn more elsewhere, but they find this work rewards their souls. "I've worked here six years," says David Urrabazo, a U.S. Marine Corps retiree and facilities supervisor. "It's my way of giving back. It doesn't pay much, but there are other ways of receiving."
Bert himself left a successful corporate position to head up Respite Care. For the past three years, he has cared for two brothers and a sister who were residents of Davidson Respite House Emergency Shelter. Cara came to Respite Care as a volunteer. She's now married with a child and recently earned her MBA. Cara could thrive in the corporate world too. "Friends say, 'You could make so much more money,' " she says. "And I say, 'Why? I would not feel the value of what I do every day.' That makes a grand difference."
Help for Respite Care
The state provides $94 a day for each child, but Respite Care must spend about $170. You can help with money and more. Respite Care needs used clothing for infants to teenagers; new socks, underwear, and shoes; as well as formula and diaper wipes. Contact Respite Care of San Antonio, Inc., 605 Belknap Place, San Antonio, TX 78212; www.respitecaresa.org or (210) 737-1212.
"Castle of Hope In San Antonio" is from the December 2006 issue of Southern Living.