Wendy Berk has recently been named the new Illinois REST Program Coordinator. In her new position, Berk, a resident of Oswego, will work throughout the state of Illinois to find and enroll trainers in REST’s Train-the-Trainer courses; maintain a database of all trainers and volunteer respite workers; engage in communication with and collect feedback from trainers, volunteers and respite recipients in order to help the team continually improve our training; work closely with the Illinois Department of Human Services to ensure the program meets all state requirements and act as a contact point for all Illinois trainers who are working under the Pilot program.

REST, which stands for Respite Education and Support Tools, is an originally designed Train-the-Trainer program that trains individuals who will then teach volunteers skills to be able to offer special care and assistance to caregivers. There are many caregivers in Illinois and around the country that are struggling to provide care to family members with developmental disabilities. One of the things these caregivers need is time to take respite—a short break–so they can recharge themselves. It takes a specific set of skills to take care of individuals with developmental disabilities, and the REST program offers to teach this skillset. By having the REST-certified volunteers helping by providing breaks, the caregivers can give an even better quality of care.

 “The most exciting part of the REST program is that we have recently partnered with the Department of Human Services, which makes it possible to offer training and related materials for free to individuals living in Illinois,” Stated Berk. “It is such a great opportunity for all of us to come together and support caregivers so they can continue to care for their loved ones in their homes.”

 “Wendy comes on board bringing a wide range of administrative skills which we are certain will help us meet our goal of training 12,500 respite volunteers throughout the state in partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Services,” states Lois Schaeffer-Kramer, Director of Government Relations and Community Support at Marklund. “The entire REST team is so excited to have her as the new Illinois REST Program Coordinator Wendy.”

REST is a program created by Marklund, a nonprofit organization that serves individuals with profound disabilities. Berk worked at Marklund for many years and in a variety of positions, from the executive assistant to administrator to the director of Education.

To learn more about the REST program, visit the REST website at or contact Berk at or 630.529.2871 EXT 3261.