Disabled adults have a safe place to do meaningful work thanks to a new vocational center and greenhouses dedicated June 8 at Rainbow Omega in Eastaboga.
The four new greenhouses were made possible, in part, by a donation from the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance. The organization’s president, Jerry Newby, joined Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey for an open house at the facilities.
“There’s not many things you see in life that are as pure as love. This endeavor is love,” said Newby of the Rainbow Omega ministry. “We at Alfa and the Alabama Farmers Federation are blessed to be a part of this, and we are blessed that God has given us the resources to do this.”
Rainbow Omega is a faith-based, residential and vocational community for adults with developmental disabilities. The campus is home to 79 residents and includes eight family-style group homes and a state-of-the-art medical facility for residents needing individualized care.
Inspired by their son, Chris, who is now a resident at Rainbow Omega, Stentson and Dianne Carpenter founded the non-profit organization in 1991 and opened the first two homes in 1995. Stentson, who serves as CEO of Rainbow Omega, said dedication of the 25,000-square-foot Chris Carpenter Work Center is a dream come true.
“The Bible says we were all created from a handful of dirt, and then God put a few dreams in our pockets,” Carpenter said. “We never want to underestimate the power of a dream. Today we are here to celebrate that dream coming true for Rainbow Omega.”
The $3 million work center was made possible through private donations as well as grants from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Economic Development Administration, the Calhoun County Community Foundation and the Arc of North Talladega County. Alfa gave $60,000 over two years for construction of the greenhouses, with additional funding coming from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Ivey was introduced to the work at Rainbow Omega by her chief of staff, Steve Pelham, who assisted the organization with other construction projects while previously serving as state director of USDA Rural Development.
The lieutenant governor praised the Rainbow Omega board of directors and staff for their compassion and stewardship.
“Your commitment, vision and dedication...has built a foundation of hope and a solid foundation for the future that’s impacted thousands of lives to date, and more to come,” Ivey said.
During the open house, Ivey presented Chris Carpenter a proclamation naming him an honorary lieutenant governor.
The Carpenter Work Center includes comfortable space where residents earn a paycheck while performing work for private companies. The new building also boasts a cafeteria capable of seating all the residents for lunch.
The building also includes office space, a training facility for staff and an exercise room for the residents. Carpenter said an exercise plan would be tailored for each resident.
Meanwhile, the four new greenhouses supported by Alfa will not only provide work opportunities for the residents, but they also will provide a sustainable source of revenue for Rainbow Omega. With the additional space, the charity now has nine greenhouses. The residents help grow a variety of annuals and perennials in the spring and mums in the fall, but their signature crop is poinsettias.
“Our residential program doesn’t receive any money from the state or the federal government to pay for our residents to live here,” Carpenter said. “So the work center and the greenhouses all contribute. Hopefully, someday, we will be self-supporting here as we work toward that goal.”
For more information about Rainbow Omega, visit rainbowomega.org