Stentson Carpenter honored as Alumni of the Year at Faulkner Homecoming 2020
Walking through the cozy apartments and living quarters of those with mental disabilities at Rainbow Omega, visitors can see how a girl with Down’s syndrome decorated her room in pink unicorns, and fluffy green pillows. Another girl down the hall displayed her paintings of rainbow colored fish on the walls. Color is everywhere. It makes Rainbow Omega feel like a home.
When you visit, you’ll most likely be greeted with warm smiles and a question posed by one of the residents – “Will you be my friend?” Everyone is energetic and eager to make newcomers feel welcomed. It’s a place where they feel loved, cared for and given the freedom to live their lives to the absolute fullest.
Rainbow Omega, the state’s only private facility offering ‘round-the-clock care for disabled adults, allows men and women, who were born with physical and mental challenges a safe place to gather, laugh, eat and work.
Meaning “hope in the end,” Rainbow Omega derives its meaning from the Biblical rainbow in Genesis that was a sign of hope from God to mankind and omega, the last letter of the Greek alphabet. Owner and founder Carpenter Stentson, 74 and his wife Dianne created Rainbow Omega from a shared vision to provide a sheltered community for adults with developmental disabilities and provide parents, like themselves, with peace in knowing their children will be cared for when they are gone.
Stentson, a Faulkner alumnus, was recently honored at Faulkner University’s 2020 Homecoming weekend and was named Alumni of the Year for his extensive work through Rainbow Omega.
“Rainbow Omega is our vision, but it doesn’t feel like work,” Carpenter said. “This place is a part of who we are. My son Christopher has always had special needs and he was our inspiration.”
“We want him to have a quality of life and live out his life in a protected environment. We know there are many like him in the world and we want them to have a happy, healthy life and have a rich quality of life.”
Home to nearly 100 residents, Rainbow Omega is a sprawling campus and medical facility tucked away in Eastaboga, Alabama, and provides residential care in seven large family-style group homes. Residents have a private bedroom furnished with their own personal belongings. Live-in house managers create a sense of family in safe, comfortable, and secure surroundings. The house managers also teach life skills to maximize each individual’s potential for independence. Each resident is encouraged to learn and master new skills according to their abilities. House family groups also participate in various social activities to provide integration within the community at large.
A 16-bed Intermediate Care Facility was opened in 2007 for Developmentally Disabled to care for medically frail men and women who need more specialized care. This facility provides ongoing evaluations and 24-hour supervision by nursing staff and treats elderly residents diagnosed with dementia, cancer and other diseases that come with age. Another facility of its kind was opened in 2013.
Before Rainbow Omega, Stentson and his wife were missionaries in the Caribbean for five years with their two sons, but they knew another mission of faith was calling them instead.
They returned to the States and settled in Montgomery where a friend told him about Faulkner University. Stentson knew that in order to fulfill his dream for his family, he would need a degree in a related field.
At Faulkner, he pursued a second Bible degree and pursued a minor in sociology. He graduated in 1987, bought a poultry farm and ten years later raised enough money to open Rainbow Omega as an official 501c3 nonprofit in 1990, buy land and opened up the first home five years later.
Since then, they have thrived and grown over the last 25 years. They now have 115 employees serving residents from 18 years old to 95 on 350 acres.
Complete with a work center, green houses and a florist and produce shop, the campus at Rainbow Omega has everything their residents need. For those who are able and want to work, the work center allows residents to learn new skills and feel accomplishment and satisfaction after a day of work and are paid for their services. By partnering with Honda, residents work on sophisticated assembly lines to produce car manuals and other items.
Others find enjoyment working in the seasonal greenhouses cultivating produce and flowers and selling honey and soaps at their shop. During the Christmas season, their poinsettias are very popular gifts. Stentson also takes residents who want to go to his church, Lincoln Church of Christ, where he is an active member.
“Carpenter will bring residents from Rainbow Omega and they are some of the most gifted and lovable people you’ll ever meet,” said Mark Martin, the minister at Lincoln Church of Christ and another Faulkner alumnus. “I’ve known Carpenter for 35 years and he and his wife are just wonderful people and have given of themselves to make Rainbow Omega prosper for as long as I’ve known them.”
For Stentson, running Rainbow Omega is what he was put on earth to do.
“This is my life. You have to make your life count for something and this is what we have invested our lives in,” Stentson said. “We’ve been very blessed.”