This month marks an incredible milestone. Ten years ago this month, we launched our weekend getaways program, Relax, Recharge, Renew. Now, we can proudly say the program has provided 540 weekend getaways for parents and caregivers for children with complex care needs.
Caring for children with complex care needs comes with a significant workload for caregivers, and what these parents need most is support. We recognized that Tourism Toronto was uniquely positioned within the tourism industry to help local families in need of a break. As a member-based organization, we knew we had the resources, people and ability to provide exceptional weekends for caregivers. So the Relax, Recharge, Renew program was born – and it’s a program we are proud to have launched and kept going strong for 10 years.
Nearly every weekend throughout the year, parents are provided a limousine pick-up, a two-night hotel stay, tickets to shows, museums and other attractions, and dining experiences at local restaurants.
To say that this program takes a village would be an understatement. It starts with a dedicated team at Tourism Toronto that manages the program day-in and day-out. It’s truly a passion project for so many of us. Staff throughout the years have donated their time and efforts to ensure that Relax, Recharge, Renew got the attention it deserved. I want to personally say thank you to each and every staff member over the years that has helped out.
Next comes our members. Since 2008, more than 150 businesses have supported Relax, Recharge, Renew. Thanks to their contributions, caregivers get to experience the best of Toronto. Thank you for supporting the cause!
Lastly, comes the care community. While caregivers are on a weekend getaway, their child is cared for in a high-quality, provincially-funded respite care centre. One of the biggest challenges when caring for a child with complex care needs is that you can’t just call up a relative or neighbour to watch their child for an evening or weekend. That’s where respite centres like Christian Horizons and Safehaven Project for Community Living step in. These centres are a home away from home for a child with special needs – giving parents peace of mind that their child is in safe hands.
We had the pleasure of visiting one of those respite centres just this past week to celebrate a decade of Relax, Recharge, Renew. It was there that we met with some of the families that have taken part, along with our staff and members that have donated. Meeting these exceptional children and their families was the perfect way to toast a decade of giving back.
Throughout the decade, the Relax, Recharge, Renew program has been recognized for its achievements including the Corporate Social Responsibility Award from PR News at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.; the prestigious Community Service Award from the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC); and the Tourism Innovator of the Year Award from the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO). Previous recognition also includes the American Society of Association Executives the “Power of A” Silver Award; and IMEX “Commitment to the Community” award which is a globally-recognized honour awarded annually.
If you’re an organization that’s interested in supporting Relax, Recharge, Renew, let us know by sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.