The Studio Blog Archive

A few posts we've written over the years

Volunteer Spotlight

Mary Ellis, Volunteering Force

Volunteering at Rainbows impacts not only the children with special needs and their families, but it also changes the life of the volunteer. “I enjoy every minute I spend volunteering and am always looking for the next event to sign up for because it brings me pure joy to see the smiles on all of those kids’ faces,”  said Mary Ellis. “You can’t help but just feel joy every time you’re around them.”

Mary first became involved with Rainbows at last year’s Rainbows Run Walk. Because she lives in Butler County, she said the event holds a special place in her heart knowing that all the proceeds go to children and families in Butler County.

Since May, Mary has been a Volunteering Force. She volunteered at most of the Camp Woodchuck events, helping to set up tables and chairs, decorate rooms, serving treats, and applying temporary tattoos.  One of her favorite camp events was the Talent Show. “It was so amazing and heartwarming to see all of the kids having so much fun dancing and singing with not a care in the world,” she said. “It was also so awesome to see the staff who care so much about each and every one of these kids. The bonds they are formed are just amazing to watch.”

As a working mother, Mary knows how hard it can be to make it to every event at their kids’ schools. Because of this, Muffins with Moms especially touched her heart.  Mary was the first person to sign up to volunteer at this early morning daycare event. “I had the pleasure to go sit in with a little boy whose mom couldn't make it and it just melted my heart,” she smiled. “I know as a mom I would love to know that there was someone kind enough to just sit and have a muffin with my babies because I couldn't be there.”

Most recently, Mary volunteered at the Hampel Luau and has already committed to volunteering at Fashion Passion in November.

Thank You United Way of the Plains

United We Fight. United We Win.

In August, Loaned Executives from United Way of the Plains spent time at Rainbows learning about our programs and services. Prior to the United Way Campaign, Loaned Executives spend time at United Way funded agencies to experience firsthand the important work agencies provide to our community. 

Rainbows receives funding from the United Way of the Plains to support three programs; Quality Specialized Childcare, Developmental Assessments and Evaluations, and Targeted Case Management. Loaned Executives toured Kids’ Point where they met children impacted by these programs and spent time volunteering in a classroom.       

Rainbows is a gracious recipient of United Way funds. Support from the United Way of the Plains allows Rainbows to link vulnerable children in our community to progress that changes the course of their lives forever. On behalf of the Board of Directors, the staff, and the 3,200 children and families of Rainbows United, thank you for your dedicated support and partnership.


11th Annual Hampel Luau Raises Over $46,600 net proceeds

Hampel Family Supports Rainbows

When the Hampel family decided to turn an annual 4th of July celebration into a small fundraiser, they never imagined it would evolve into the event it is today. Eleven years ago, the third generation Hampels had a vision to improve their local community. Philanthropic in nature, they wanted to create their own project to benefit a non-profit organization.

Ed and Nancy Hampel, second generation Hampels, suggested Rainbows because their son, Peter, received services. Rainbows has also been instrumental in providing services and resources for children of Hampel Oil employees. Because the family already had tiki torches at their lake house, a Luau themed event was the perfect fit!

In the event’s first year, the Hampels hosted 50-60 people at their lake house and raised over $16,000. As the event grew, the Hampel Family partnered with Tanganyika Wildlife Park to host the Luau. Now, over 500 people attend the annual event which includes private access to Tanganyika, dinner and dessert, silent auction and lots of family fun!

With the support of generous donors, partners, volunteers and attendees, the Luau has raised over $380,000 in net proceeds to provide vital funds for Rainbows’ programs and services such as target case management, autism support, infant toddler services, Camp Woodchuck, family support services and more.

The success of Peter Hampel’s Luau is due to the leadership and vision of the Hampel family. In fact, this event has made a significant impact in the agency’s history. Rainbows is grateful for the Hampels’ support of children with special needs and their families in our community.

-Blair Miller, Special Events Coordinator

Community Based Education and Training Services

Lily's Story

Lily was 3 years old when she got connected to the Rainbows’ Community Based Education and Training Services (CBETS) program. She suffered from muscular issues and weakness. She had problems with balance and walking and would drop to her knees to pick up things. She was unable to climb the ladder of the slide, and was embarrassed that she needed help.

Lily also had developmental delays, struggling with asking for what she needed and speaking barely above a whisper so no one was able to understand what she was saying. As a result of her struggles, Lily was not meeting developmental milestones for a child her age.

Through a contract with Wichita Public Schools, CBETS offers ideas, specific services and resources to support each child’s education. This dedicated team of professionals, Early Childhood Special Education Teacher, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, and Speech Language Pathologists travel to the child’s home, community daycare centers, school learning centers, Head Starts, TOP’S, private daycares and preschools. Team members may drive 150 miles across Sedgwick County and complete up to 50 visits in a week. These services are provided at no cost to the families or child care providers, and specialized to each child.

 In Lily’s case, with direction she quickly learned her alphabet, rhyming words, spatial concepts and numbers. “I love seeing it in their eyes when they catch it,” said Kenda Belknap, Early Childhood Special Education Teacher. “That look of I did it on my own and now I’ve got it. It is the most rewarding part of my job.”  

Through physical therapy, her muscular issues and weakness were strengthened. She is now able to enjoy playing on the playground and sliding with her friends. And Lily can communicate with her parents, grandparents, friends and teachers! “I love having a parent tell me their child is talking all the time and making friends,” said Amy Williams, Speech Language Pathologist.

After 3 years of services, Lily is going to kindergarten. She will be able to play with her friends, learn the curriculum, and communicate with everyone. The team of seven agree, “The best part of their job is exiting children from services before they go to kindergarten” (that means they will not need special education in the public school).