Positive Connections: Kansas winery offers jobs, safe space for people with developmental disabilities

Positive Connections

BARTON COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – In the backroads of rural Kansas sits a unique winery, a place for those with developmental disabilities to grow into their best selves.

“Everyone wants a passion and a purpose, but if the world is never open to them, they don’t know that it exists,” said Rosewood Services Director of Public Relations Michael Dawes.

Rosewood Services, located in Great Bend, celebrates the unique abilities and successes of people with developmental disabilities. Its many programs, including a winery, horse ranch, furniture gallery, and greenhouse and garden, allow clients to explore new job opportunities in a safe space.

“The goal is to have the individuals achieve but also have those individuals who might not ever get to the top rung to continue to strive each day and have that passion within their heart to get up and do it all over again and have a reason to do it,” explained Dawes.

Jimmy Wonsetler said Rosewood has helped him achieve more than he expected.

“Well, it helped me get a grip on a few things I have issues with like I got some anger issues that I am not particularly proud of,” said Wonsetler.

Wonsetler has ADHD. He said Rosewood has played a pivotal role in helping him manage his emotions.

“I have medication I take for it, and I try to find more constructive ways to take it out versus being destructive and just tearing stuff apart,” he explained.

Since enrolling in Rosewood about a decade ago, Wonsetler has learned a new set of skills which helped him land a job at the local Walmart. It’s a job he has held for more than six years.

“Jim (Wonsetler) did have employment opportunities prior to Rosewood. In those endeavors, he was unsuccessful just because there were some things that he needed to work on. In order to work on those things you need a plan and you need a team and he had those with Rosewood Services,” Dawes said.

Wonsetler, like many of Rosewood’s clients, found a sense of self at Rosewood. He was able to try out new jobs, learn new skills, and find a purpose while working at the winery and the ranch.

Dawes said he is blessed to have witnessed Wonsetler’s success. He said it’s the ultimate reward to see clients like him reach their goals.

“Never underestimate anyone with their abilities because the more you give to them to achieve the greater chance they have to achieve,” Dawes said.

Rosewood Services was founded in 1998. In its first year, it served about 20 people. It now serves more than 200 individuals and employs about 100 of them.

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