The Studio Blog Archive

A few posts we've written over the years


10:15+ Club

A Day of Secrets for Staff

At 10:15 a.m. on October 15 (10/15), buses rolled into Kids’ Point and Kids’ Cove to carry staff members who have worked at Rainbows 10 or more years to a surprise location for the annual Rainbows’ 10:15+ Club celebration. This is a day set aside to recognize and honor these employees. The festivities are sponsored by Rainbows United, Inc.’s Board of Directors

 “There is a feeling of excitement, embarking on a secret adventure together,” said Teddi Hollingsworth, 18-year employee with Infant/Toddler Services. “It’s like a family reunion, where our individual accomplishments are celebrated together. I reflect on the longevity of my co-workers, and how they all have a special place in the collective whole of the organization, helping children and families reach their full potential.”

“Being in Rainbows’ 10:15+ Club is an honor,” said Mental Health Specialist, attending the event for the first time, Kathy Van Zelfden. “Seeing co-workers being celebrated for 10, 15, 20, 25, 30+ years of service lets you know that employees believe in the mission and take pride in what they do. Shout out to Nurse Shirley for 30 years of service!  I’ve never worked anywhere where employees’ longevity is recognized with a day of celebration and fun.”

“The 10:15+ Club gathering at Chicken N Pickle was a blast with a relaxed and comfortable gathering place, delicious order-what-you-want food, a variety of games to watch or participate in, and best of all being able to spend time to reconnect, meet, and have fun with co-workers,” said Kim Stewart, Speech Language Pathologist and 20-year employee. “The competition was stiff regardless of whether people were playing pickle ball, shuffle board, jenga, hula hoops, or corn hole.  There were also plenty of comfortable areas to sit and watch the action or visit with friends. The day capped off with a Freddy’s Frozen Custard sundae bar.”

“I enjoyed having no structure to the afternoon,” said Sharon Stump, Speech Language Pathologist and 11-year employee. “There was plenty of time and choices to do what we wanted to do whether that was playing or visiting.  I also enjoyed eating lunch with Board Member Pat Gearhart. It was nice to have the opportunity to get to know him on a more personal level.”

“This day would not be possible without our board of directors,” said Teddi. “They generously give their valuable time and resources to make this special event possible every year. This year one of my favorite moments was meeting board member Lisa Farris. She sat with our table during lunch and kept us all entertained with her humor. It’s moments like these that have me looking forward to next year’s celebration.”

Congratulations to all 10:15+ Club members. You are a truly special group.

Escape Room

HALLOWEEN PARTY FOR TEENS AND TWEENS

As your children approach the tween and teen years, trick-or-treating loses it cache’, and most youngsters would rather hang out with their friends. When your young person has an I/DD diagnosis, you want to make sure they have fun, while still being safely in your care. Why not take the opportunity to plan a special evening for them with an escape room extravaganza?

Escape rooms first began showing up in Asia in the early 2010s, and moved across Europe and North America, providing a fun and brain-teasing night out for friends and families. The scheme is simple: solve a series of puzzles and questions within the time limit, finding clues as you go along. Most of these businesses have a storyline that changes a few times per year, so that repeat customers get a new challenge.

Nights out like these are pricey, with some as high as $30-40 per person for an hour’s entertainment. Thrifty parents, school groups and DIY experts are battling back by coming up with their own escape room parties held in basements, rec rooms or rented school or church facilities. With a little bit of imagination, a small group of friends and some youngsters ready for a challenge, you can plan the coolest Halloween party in the neighborhood.

Escape room games may be purchased at your local discount store or online. Most are in the $20-35 range and include storyline, combination lock and puzzles to solve. A few even include a video to provide the backstory. Teachers would enjoy the STEM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Math) schemes. Because escape room parties are completely customizable, they can be made totally accessible for all your guests, regardless of their abilities.

DIY your own escape room activities with coded or mirror-image messages. Include science or math-based challenges, too. Hide clues behind doors, paintings and under furniture. Pinterest has a wealth of ideas for this type of party. You can customize the activities to the ages, skills and interests of your guests. Some theme ideas are spies, Old West, pirates, murder mystery or Armageddon-type scenarios.

Party favors and decorations might include puzzle balls, or invisible ink pens, manila office folders marked “Top Secret,” mini Rubik’s cubes, magnifying glasses or flashlights. Cut out black construction paper shoeprints and place on the floor. Caution or crime scene tape is pretty inexpensive, too. Pick an interior room to use for the event, or cover windows with black plastic trash bags. Keep lights low and add glow-in-the-dark accessories.

Sugar cookies decorated with frosting keys and question marks make fun snacks and treats for an escape room party. Try TNT Twizzler bundles,  or take the wrappers off Hersheys Nuggets to make miniature gold bars and stack in piles on a platter. Mark small paper sacks with Top Secret and add easy snacks of popcorn, trail mix, juice boxes or bottled water and sandwiches for emergency rations while the participants are in the escape room.

If your event has a particular theme, like a murder mystery in a castle or country manor, English tea and snacks would be appropriate. If your affair runs to exotic locales, think of a Moroccan bazaar with nuts, dates, and olives, a Parisian patisserie, or rustic Italian spread.

This party scheme can be adjusted and customized according to the type, age and abilities of guests. If you want to make the party for younger kiddos, simplify the puzzles and shorten the timeframe. For an adult event, add grown-up beverages and streamline the floor décor for friends with physical disabilities.

Halloween is a perfect time to get together a few friends and neighbors or your teen’s posse and try something new. This type of event is a bit of a challenge, which helps to break the ice socially, enables kids with different abilities to shine, and allows your guests to relax and enjoy the evening.

By Carol Martin, Finance Department

We LOVE

Corporate Volunteers

Volunteers are an integral part of Rainbows United’s ability to provide services to children with special needs and their families. Because of the commitment of our volunteers, projects such as painting and staining, replacing carpet, laying sod, building a raised-bed garden, clearing a tree line, pruning and trimming trees, laying mulch, cleaning classrooms and organizing libraries, as well as interacting with our children in the classrooms and at Camp Woodchuck have brightened the lives of Rainbows’ staff, children and families. As our volunteers know, they are now officially “friends” of Rainbows’ children.

In the past several months, Rainbows has been honored to welcome corporate volunteers from Celebrity Cruises, Meritrust Credit Union, Enterprise, Cox Machine, Sunflower Bank, Fidelity Bank, Cochener Garvey, Commerce Bank, MidAmerican Credit Union, InfoSync and Capitol Federal. These volunteers gave in time, talents and treasures. They helped us complete projects that would not have been fiscally possible due to the amount of materials and man-power needed. They helped us raise funds at events and they created an Island Paradise Getaway for our campers. Best of all, they brought smiles to the faces of our children!

If your corporation would like to join the Rainbows’ family, and be the new friends of Rainbows’ children, please contact Melani Kliewer, Volunteer Coordinator, at 316.558.3422 or mkliewer@rui.org.

Andy Walston

A Day in the Life

My name is Andy Walston. I have been with Rainbows for a little over 5 years split into 2 time periods. I was originally here from July of 2011 to January of 2013. I then spent a period of 3 years at an accounting firm auditing non-profits and governmental entities. I came back to Rainbows in March of 2016 and have been here ever since.

I have recently been promoted to Controller. I am sure many of you may be wondering what exactly a Controller is. I checked the internet (you know, to insure I was fulfilling all of my duties). The descriptions were so long that I got bored, then distracted and ended up down a rabbit hole looking at pictures of cats dressed up as accountants. No matter how well dressed, I will not be replaced by a cat. Not again. The language barrier alone is hard enough to overcome.

Most of my work here revolves around grants and budgets. Rainbows United receives over $3.5 million in grant funding over the course of a fiscal year. Many of those grants require specific billing and expense reporting procedures to be followed. That is where I come in. I compile the information for grant billings or reports based on whether it is a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual reporting period. Wait, are you still awake? Did you already stop paying attention? I know it is not the most glamorous part of our work here, but proper reporting is the foundation of insuring funding to provide all of the services we do for our clients. Budgeting is essentially the other side of the funding coin. Accurate and complete budgeting helps to guarantee we are good stewards of the funding we receive. I also supervise our Finance Specialist, Tam. Many of the tasks she completes are duties that I once had so I try to help her navigate the accounts receivable as well as possible.

My favorite part of working at Rainbows is all of the wonderful, dedicated people. I know that seems like a lame applause line, a lot like when a band comes to town and says something generic with the name of the town in it to get a huge cheer. But really, I would not have come back to Rainbows if I didn’t believe in the people here. I volunteered for Fashion Passion 2 of the 3 years I was away mostly so that I could come back and hang out with everyone even just for the one night. Fashion Passion is Rainbows United’s largest fundraiser of the year. If you have never been, you should really consider attending or volunteering.

While away from my desk, I enjoy fitness (fitness entire burger in my mouth), cooking and spending time with my family. My twin daughters are in middle school, play volleyball and have given up on explaining to me what is a Colby Brock. The louder I cheer at their matches, the harder their eyes roll. I am sure they will one day think that I am cool again (probably when they read this post).