The RESPECT story has its origins in the 1960s with the ‘Friends of St Vincent’s’ fundraising to supplement income from the Health Board enabling the Service to provide for additional furniture, fittings and facilities and to reduce the traditional institutional features of their centres. In the early 1970s, the Friends, together with substantial support from the Licensed Vintners Association, enabled the construction of the St Vincent’s Swimming Pool and Gymnasium on the Navan Road.
Their support continued as the Service expanded and modernised through the 1980s with the provision of additional facilities, the acquisition of community houses and construction of St Rosalie’s in Portmarnock. By 1988 fire safety issues led to accommodation in the older buildings in the Service at Navan Road being phased out. This created the need for extensive modern accommodation and support services in less institutional settings. RESPECT was incorporated in 1995 with the objective of research and provision of support to the Service in providing accommodation.
In 1995 Sr Martha Hegarty DoC, who had completed studies in rehabilitation at Michigan State University and who had responsibility for the Community Living Programme, was appointed Director of RESPECT. Until her untimely death in 2012, Sr Martha provided leadership and vision to fundraising and the use of these funds to provide the major residential and support projects at St Vincent’s, St Louise’s Glenmaroon, the Bethel House hospice and Sonas Project at St Josephs Clonsilla. Over this period the RESPECT Board, chaired by Mr Dermot Desmond since its foundation, raised the funding necessary to match public funding for the projects.
In 2014 RESPECT faces the challenge of raising much needed funds for the ASSISTID Research Programme until 2019 and for continuing support to the Daughters of Charity Service. Both of these programmes are quite unique in Ireland – the ongoing building programme will continue to change the living environments of residents from old style institutional care to a more independent community living environment; The new ASSISTID research programme will investigate the powerful positive changes that Assistive Technology can bring to the lives of people with Autism and Intellectual Disability.