Friday evening was remarkable for dozens of people with developmental disabilities. They showed up dressed in their best attire, many of them chauffeured to the Great Bend Events Center, courtesy of Rosewood Services. The agency that started with only a dozen clients and an innovative vision for people with disabilities to “Celebrate Life,” celebrated 20 years in business during the evening with nearly 500 clients, their families, employees and Rosewood supporters in attendance.
“We wanted to give them an amazing evening they would never forget, and let them know how special they are to all of us at Rosewood,” said Rosewood Services founder and executive director Tammy Hammond. “I think we succeeded. They had a blast!”
The evening featured a catered dinner and remarks by Kansas Supreme Court Justice, the Honorable Dan Biles, a long-time advocate of people with disabilities. The crowd got to reminisce and re-live Rosewood Services through the years, thanks to a video produced about the people who have had a hand in moving Rosewood forward over the years. Many long-time employees were recognized during the evening.
What began as a dream in May 1998, with founder Hammond as the agency’s only employee, has now grown to become one of the state’s greatest advocates and supporters of people with disabilities. Over the years, Rosewood has also become one of the area’s largest employers, employing nearly 350 people who daily serve more than 200 people with disabilities.
Rosewood has created many opportunities for people with disabilities: From a therapeutic equestrian program, to a hardwood furniture manufacturing store, to a greenhouse and garden that grows tomatoes, to a studio and kitchen where jellies and other products are made and sold at retail locations. Work opportunities even include the nation’s only winery designed for the employment of the people with developmental disabilities. These innovative programs have earned dozens of awards, from world championships won by riders in the equestrian program, to state honors in wine contests, to Rosewood being featured on nationally televised programs.
“We feel blessed to be in this community,” said Hammond. “The support for our program and for the people we are privileged to serve is overwhelming to me. It makes us so proud to be able to give back to the area that has helped build Rosewood Services, our agency that makes a daily impact on people with disabilities.
“Giving back happens in numerous ways,” continued Hammond. “Over the years we have been able to contribute more than $60 million dollars in payroll to the local economy. We spend nearly $2 million dollars a year with local vendors for goods and services. We also contribute greatly to infrastructure by paying nearly $10 million dollars in local taxes that help to support and maintain our schools, our roads, and many other vital services in our community.”
The Hammond children, Andy, Amanda, Anna and Alex, are being coached and groomed for leadership in order to someday take over the reins.
“We’re excited about the future of Rosewood,” said Amanda Hammond. “With my sister and both brothers heavily involved in every aspect of Rosewood, I feel like the next 20 years is clearly on the horizon for our agency. “We are surrounded by an amazing work team that has great focus on being the best advocates and caregivers we can be every day for people with disabilities. With the leadership and guidance from those who have been with our agency for the past 20 years, I believe we can continue to make a positive difference in the lives of others in this community for years to come.”