UPDATE: This post is written by Karim Shamsi-Basha for Alabama NewsCenter. Learn more at: http://alabamanewscenter.com/
For Chris to grow old in a place where he can hear the words “I love you” was going to be tricky.
He was born with brain damage that left him with the maturity of a 4- or 5-year-old for the rest of his life. Stentson and Dianne Carpenter wanted their son to live with dignity and love.
“What will happen to Chris when we die?” That was the thought in their heads and hearts for a long time. They knew of no place that would take care of Chris and others like him.
Rainbow Omega was born: a nonprofit that provides residential and vocational programs for adults with developmental disabilities. The name, according to the organization’s website, means “hope in the end.” It comes from Biblical references to the rainbow, which stands for hope, and Omega, which is the last letter of the Greek alphabet.
“Our inspiration behind starting Rainbow Omega was our son Chris and his future,” Stentson Carpenter said. “We were concerned about what will happen to him after we are gone. This place provides a safe environment to live in and to make sure he is taken care off. Things like good hygiene, integration with the community, social life, and spiritual life. He would be able to work at his speed and fellowship with people.”
Over 80 adults live on the campus in Eastaboga in spacious homes providing them with work and social life. They do activities on a weekly basis like bowling and going to the movies. Groups of volunteers come and socialize with the residents. They lead as much of a normal life as possible when they cook out, play games, attend church, and go out to eat.
Rainbow Omega provides work for the residents. They sell vegetables and berries and flowers raised on their farms and in their green houses. They also assemble the owner’s manual kits placed in the glove compartment of every vehicle Honda manufactures at its Lincoln plant. On an average day, they put together 1,500 packets. Other contracts for work for the residents include Birmingham Fasteners, Central Castings, Distribution Dynamics, Hager Hinge, Jacksonville State University, Metro Mail, Potts Marketing Group, Sentinel Consumer Products, Southern Bottled Water, and the Talladega Superspeedway.
“We dream of a place where our son can grow old in, one that would provide him and others like him with a decent life,” Carpenter said. “We knew no one would love our son like we do. And we wanted him in a community and not an institution.”
This dream is providing adults with a few of the following values:
- We believe in the sanctity, dignity and worth of each person.
- We are committed to the well being of our residents regardless of their disability.
- We respect and support the families of our residents.
- We diligently steward the generous gifts provided by our benefactors.
- We are guided by and uphold the highest principles in all we do.
“We wanted a place for our son so he can hear ‘I love you’ every once in a while. Now he has that place.” Carpenter said.
If you’d like more information, go to Rainbow Omega.
Alabama Bright Lights captures the stories, through words, pictures and video, of some of our state’s brightest lights who are working to make Alabama an even better place to live, work and play. Award-winning photojournalist Karim Shamsi-Basha tells their inspiring stories. Email him comments, as well as suggestions on people to profile, at firstname.lastname@example.org.