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HOPE, Ark.—Rainbow of Challenges will hold a 50-year-anniversary reception Wednesday at Hempstead Hall.

The reception will be from 4 to 6 p.m at Hempstead Hall on the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana campus at 2500 S. Main St. in Hope. The public is invited to attend, and former board members, staff and others connected with the organization are especially encouraged to come and share their fond memories, according to a news release.

What began with six children in 1969 has now grown to more than 500 children and adults in being served by Rainbow of Challenges in Hope. Patti Manus and 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 the need was great in Hope and the surrounding area. Roots began to take hold, and more children and staff were added.

Generous help and donations came from community leaders, and so began the growth of Rainbow of Challenges. ROC now employs about 500 and serves children and adults in Hempstead County and 34 additional counties in South Arkansas.

"ROC is excited to celebrate with the community our 50th anniversary," CEO Judy Watson said in a news release. "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," Watson said.

In addition to the adult day centers Rainbow Industries, ROC Enterprises and Rainbow Junction in Arkadelphia, sites include Making Rainbows-Hope and Lewisville. ROC also has residential facilities located in Hope.

Children from birth to age 5 receive early childhood developmental therapy so that they begin kindergarten with the skills necessary for a successful education. The ROC/PNC therapy component provides speech, occupational, and physical therapy for children, 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 provides opportunities for the individuals to earn spending money, which is then spent throughout the community, teaching valuable life skills. Any proceeds received from the recycling market are directed back into ROC/PNC programming.

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