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Rainbow Acres is a 50 acre Christian community that provides caring homes and lives of purpose and dignity for adults with developmental disabilities, called Ranchers. These are some of the most undervalued and vulnerable individuals in the U.S. They are unable to successfully sustain an independent lifestyle, but with the support of trained staff and enrichment programs, their lives are full of joy and fulfillment. At present, nearly 100 adults with developmental disabilities live at Rainbow Acres.
Begun in 1974 as a dream of Baptist pastor Ralph Showers, Rainbow Acres is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. On October 24 and 25, 2014, several events highlighted the celebration.
During the Founders Luncheon on Friday, October 24, Ralph spoke enthusiastically about some of the challenges of the first few years, including his accident involving a high-voltage power line, resulting in the loss of his lower arms and hands and the struggle of learning to use prosthetic hooks to manage everyday tasks. He signed copies of his book “Reach for a Rainbow” following the luncheon.
Ralph Showers autographs his book “Reach for a Rainbow”
New, modern homes providing private bedrooms for ten Ranchers each has been a top priority for President and CEO Gary Wagner almost from the beginning of his leadership in 1996. Friday mid-afternoon saw the blessing of the construction site for Oikos House, which will be the twelfth new home for Ranchers built since 2000. Oikos is being funded by American Baptist Churches of Los Angeles, the Southwest and Hawaii. A dedication ceremony and receptions were also held for newly completed Casa Esperança (Hope House) and Aria House.
Betsy Perkins, Rainbow Chaplain, stands with Gary and Jussara Wagner and Art and Patricia Van Dyck at the dedication of new Rancher houses.
That evening a sumptuous dinner and exciting silent and live Benefit Auction raised over $71,000 for the Rancher Scholarship Fund, allowing help for those who call Rainbow home, but who have been unable to keep up with the rising costs of care through having limited or no support from family.
On Saturday, October 25 an Open House allowed members of the public and Rancher families to participate in tours of the new homes, pet and feed a menagerie of unusual animals, watch a demonstration of equestrian skills and enjoy a Rancher Choir program. All Rancher-made crafts were made available to browse and purchase, a special competition was held in Bocce Ball, Basketball and Track and Field, and a grilled hot dog and ice cream made a fine al fresco lunch.
Saturday evening we honored our “Quadragenarians” at the Gala Banquet. These four Ranchers have lived at Rainbow Acres since 1974. Gary Wagner showed a view of the past, celebrated the present, and shared a vision for the future, and everyone enjoyed a performance by Matt Savage, a young savant pianist with Autism.
All in all, it was a wonderful and successful celebration of 40 fabulous years of providing homes with heart for adults with developmental disabilities!