Edward & Madeleine Boccia, Rumsey & Rosalie Ewing, Jerry & Marlene Kopman, Max & Rosalia Rosenbaum
Howard & Doris Sturgeon, Norm & Arlene Tice, Albert & Joyce Weltman, Dale & Dorothy Wernig, Joe & Gloria Zelson

From “The Gang of Nine” to 89 Homes

Message from Our Founders

In the late 1960’s, a group of parents came together, asking “what’s next?” for their aging children with intellectual/developmental disabilities. Rainbow Village is the answer they created.

These founders (dubbed the “Gang of Nine”) were operating in a time and in a society that provided NO integrated residential living options, NO educational and recreational opportunities. So they BUILT the solution. The newspapers sometimes called them “charitable housewives”. We also call them entrepreneurial visionaries who concepted, advocated, and fundraised. Breaking down boundaries. Defying convention.

By 1978, they constructed seven group homes, the Wolff Community Center for education and recreation, and a respite care center on nine acres in St. Louis County. Several of their family members are now senior adults, living and thriving in their unique vision manifest. The success of that initial program led to almost 100 homes throughout St. Louis County, St. Charles County, St. Louis City, and Jefferson County. And as noted by a formal Proclamation – their vision has served as a model for other communities around the country.

Today, it may seem daunting to meet the growing and complex housing needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. We remain inspired by the founders and invite you to help us keep innovating to assure that more people and future generations have welcoming, safe and affordable homes when families can no longer provide for them.

Learn more about the history of Rainbow Village by viewing the Rainbow Village Memory Book  or by contacting Abby Kim at 314.567.1522, ext. 201 or e-mail akim@rbvstl.org for more details. 

By 1978, they constructed seven group homes, the Wolff Community Center for education and recreation, and a respite care center on nine acres in St. Louis County.

Today, their family members are senior adults, living and thriving in their unique vision manifest. The success of that initial program led to almost 100 homes throughout St. Louis County, St. Charles County, St. Louis City, and Jefferson County.

Today, it may seem daunting as we face challenges to meet the growing and complex housing needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. We remain inspired by the founders, and invite you to help us keep innovating to assure that more people and future generations have welcoming, safe and affordable homes when families can no longer provide for them.

                         Founder Gloria Zelson and her son Bob in 1970                                                                                     Bob Zelson today