We're on a mission.

We want to improve the quality of life, mental health, and development of special needs children and their families.

The very demanding life of raising a special needs child takes its toll on parents and caregivers, and the special needs child’s own day-to-day routines can be very taxing on them. Special needs families often face what we call “burnout” where parents and caregivers just can’t give anymore (either through personal effort or financially), and special needs children sometimes just can’t continue learning and developing and need a break.

We all want a vacation to recharge to be able to tackle life’s challenges. Unfortunately, vacationing can be a guilt-ridden undertaking for a special needs family: there is only so much time and money and diverting either away from a child’s significant needs is a decision that can burden a family beyond what a typical family may face. It’s valuable time that the child could be spending in therapy, for instance. And it’s money that could be spent on treatments or therapies that aren’t covered by insurance (if the family has insurance). Special needs families should be able to take a break without all of the associated guilt that can diminish the benefits of a vacation.

Mission Statement: Enriching Escapes’ mission is to improve the quality of life, mental health, and development of special needs children and their families by making guilt-free opportunities to relax and recharge possible.

Enriching Escapes is all about embracing the truth that Kids are Kids!, regardless of the many things that make us all unique. Often times, we focus on what makes us different rather than what brings us together. Special needs kids still want to “just be a kid” sometimes; special needs families still want to spend time together; and those of us with little still want to provide our children with a lot.

It is our hope to make vacationing easier for families with children with disabilities by organizing and funding trips that include therapists of various disciplines so that the special needs child isn’t missing out on important therapy time. These therapists and other support staff will also provide childcare and other familial support so that the entire family can enjoy a much needed “escape”. Enriching Escapes will provide financial assistance, up to the entire cost of a family’s “escape”, based on each family’s level of need. Enriching Escapes will not base any child’s or family’s selection for an “escape” on any factor that differentiates us (e.g., a family’s financial resources, race, religion, social status, citizenship, etc.). These “escapes” will be done in a group format, giving families the additional benefit of creating friendships and memories with families that encounter similar challenges in daily life.

Our “escapes” will be the vacation that we all deserve. Even if just for a short period of time, we can all “escape” and enjoy life with one another. You can join us on our mission by making a donation, nominating a family, or contributing your abilities, to help kids with different abilities just be kids!

wendi hoffer enriching escapes

Wendi Hoffer

Founder and Executive Director

Wendi Hoffer’s desire to help make vacations more of a reality for special needs families came about as the result of being a special needs mom herself. As the mother of two fantastic sons, one of whom happens to have cerebral palsy, Wendi knows firsthand the challenges that special needs families face when contemplating a vacation, and she also knows the day-to-day stresses that build up making those vacations that seem so out of reach so crucially necessary.

Prior to becoming a mom, Wendi’s career was centered in analytics and offering solutions to clients based upon the findings of complex analyses. Identifying a problem and coming up with a solution comes naturally to Wendi and Enriching Escapes is where she has chosen to take that trait next. Additionally, Wendi’s love for travel makes her eager to make those experiences possible for others.

Amazing people doing amazing things.
Board of Directors

Cristy Carmo

 

Cristy Carmo is an Occupational Therapist with more than 30 years of experience and is the founder/owner of True Blue Therapy in Brandon, FL. In addition to the services she and her team of True Blue therapists provide to children in the Tampa Bay area, Cristy has supported special needs children in underprivileged countries through workshops aimed at helping parents and professionals develop in-home exercise programs for disabled children. She also seeks to develop community resources in these countries in order to continue the support for the special needs families after she has left. Cristy lived much of her life in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and now resides in Brandon, FL. She has two sons, Andre and Gabriel, and enjoys outdoor sports, yoga, dancing, and reading. Cristy’s experience and innate desire to improve the lives of special needs families as a whole are a great contribution to Enriching Escapes mission.

Nicholas Hoffer

 

Nicholas Hoffer, Wendi’s husband and father to their two amazing sons, has spent his career helping to build sustainable communities that we can all live in and be proud of. Nick, as his friends and colleagues know him, has been a leader in commercial real estate for 15 years focusing on delivering innovative financing solutions for affordable and workforce housing developments throughout the country. He’s also passionate about travel, believing the best way to understand and ultimately appreciate the people we share this world with is to celebrate the customs and cultures that make us all unique. Nick and Wendi have traveled throughout the world and spent some of their most significant life events in far-flung places with wonderful and diverse populations, and they have made travel a core element of their children’s life experience. Nick’s desire to help others and to create a world where children’s differing abilities do not diminish a family’s access to enrichment is a core part of Enriching Escapes’ mission.

Ginger Lower

 

Ginger Lower is a data analytics enthusiast and has nearly 2 decades of experience in marketing analytics, spending most of her career in direct marketing and digital advertising. She is currently the Senior Lead Strategist at Triad Retail Media where she analyzes digital media performance for one of the largest U.S. retailers. Ginger lives in Rochester, MI with her husband and three sons. She enjoys reading, exercising, and spending time with her friends and family. Ginger’s natural inquisitiveness contributes to new ideas and her passions for analytics and marketing experience help advance Enriching Escape’s mission forward.

Natasha Nascimento

 

Natasha Nascimento is the founder and Executive Director of Redefining Refuge, a non-profit organization that brings awareness to sex trafficking and provides a safe haven to Tampa Bay area girls aged 12 to 17 years old who have been exploited. Natasha is one of Florida’s leading experts in Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking and she often speaks in legislative forums on the topic in an effort to impact policy making decisions. Natasha was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and currently lives in Tampa. She enjoys spending much of her free time with her sweet Golden Retriever, Bodhi, and loves all things food and travel. Her experience in running a successful non-profit organization is invaluable in propelling Enriching Escapes’ mission forward.

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