What began with six children in 1969, has now grown to more than 500 children and adults in 2019 being served by Rainbow of Challenges in Hope. Patti Manus, alongside a small group of mothers of children with developmental and intellectual disabilities banded together to open what was then known as the “School of Hope”. The primary focus of the school was to provide developmental treatment and therapy for children with delays.

The group soon discovered was the need was great in Hope and the surrounding area. Roots began to take hold and more children and staff where added. Volunteers came out of the woodwork. Generous help and donations came from community leaders and so began the growth of Rainbow of Challenges (ROC). ROC now employs approximately 500 and serves children and adults in Hempstead County and 34 additional counties in South Arkansas.

In addition to the adult day centers Rainbow Industries, ROC Enterprises, and Rainbow Junction in Arkadelphia, sites include Making Rainbows-Hope and Lewisville. ROC likewise has residential facilities, Omega Home, North Town, South Park Place, Hilltop Place, and Parkview apartments located in Hope. ROC is also proud of sister-sites for children and adults located in Prescott.

Children, birth to five-years-old, receive early childhood developmental therapy so they begin kindergarten with the skills necessary for a successful education. The ROC/PNC therapy component provides speech, occupational, and physical therapy for children that are overseen by highly specialized pathologists and therapists.

Adults are provided with a balanced day of instruction, work, and fun while reaching their individualized goals. ROC Adult Services in Hope include the repurposing work from Rainbow Industries and Rainbow Junction, along with the recycling center at ROC Enterprises, ROC’n Reruns thrift store, the Melon Patch restaurant, and Rainbow Industries gift baskets. ROC Enterprises also produces annual contract work for Firestone Building Products in Prescott.

Each of these services provide opportunities for the individuals to earn spending money which is then spent throughout the community, teaching valuable life skills. And, any proceeds received from the recycling market are directed back into ROC/PNC programming.

This year, Rainbow of Challenges celebrates 50 years of service, providing expert care and guidance to the individuals served. Numerous events have been planned throughout the year to spotlight the monumental mark including a special anniversary reception slated for Wednesday, April 24, from 4:00-6:00 p.m. at Hempstead Hall on the campus of UAHT in Hope. The public is invited to attend and former board members, staff and others connected with the organization especially encouraged to come share their fond memories.

“ROC is excited to celebrate with the community our 50th anniversary,” said CEO Judy Watson. “Without the vision of Patti for a better life for individuals with special needs, the longtime support of community members and businesses plus lots of prayers, ROC would not have been successful. The quote “it takes a village” really does stand true with the services and supports we provide.

“We want to take the time during the reception to thank everyone that has been involved in our success and we cannot wait to see what the next 50 years will bring, and with the support of the community, the sky is the limit.”