Fri December 16, 2022

By April Lovette


TAKING SERVICE TO A NEW LEVEL – How Janet Conway has shined at ROC and now SkyROCit as a Foster Mom

Roc Rainbow Of Challenges Janet Conway
TAKING SERVICE TO A NEW LEVEL – How Janet Conway has shined at ROC and now SkyROCit as a Foster Mom

By Scott Jester

HOPE, AR – It takes a special person to serve as a DSP at Rainbow of Challenges for more than 15 years. Many could even consider that a full career depending on their circumstances.

Then deciding to take that experience to a new level by welcoming a foster child with disabilities into their home, providing a loving environment and a pathway that could lead to a promising future.

Meet Janet Conway.

She stepped through the doors of ROC in 2008 serving in the Residential component, working one-on-one and with other individuals in a group home, providing Direct Support Professional (DSP) services under Dorene Mosier who served as Residential Coordinator at the time.

Under Mosier, Conway’s training and early inception to a new working environment meant learning it lovingly under “Dorene’s Way”, which was promoting the basic principles established by ROC Founder Patti Manus.

“With Dorene, you learned about all the sites, not just one individual. You learned them all and the jobs that are required for each,” Conway says about what was then then valuable training.

“We learned that each of the individuals had different needs and circumstances,” she continues.

“But most of all, you had to be a “people person” and have compassion. Some may need more than others, so you had to learn each one individually.

There had to be coordination between each of the other DSPs in order to work together not only at one site, but in Conway’s situation, to be flexible when another DSP was absent at a different location.

That means switching gears to meet the needs of a totally different set of individuals all living together under one roof.

Conway may or may not have known she had the skills to be a successful DSP, but following a previous career that spanned three decades, she knew had found her new work home.

“I worked 32 years at Champion Parts here in Hope,” she says. “They ended up filing for bankruptcy and I was out of a job.

Conway then found work with a local Exxon station and almost each morning ROC VP Kris Stewart would come in for a coffee and the two would talk. It just so happened that Dorene Mosier was a regular at the same Exxon and she would talk with Conway too. The conversation turned to job opportunities with ROC and Conway gave it serious thought.

“I had never dealt with people with disabilities before but later it wasn’t anything like I thought,” Conway said.

“You just had to have a compassionate feeling to realize those individuals want the same things that all of us want and that is attention and love.”

“Once I got on that job, I loved it.”

Conway flourished with all of the individuals she worked with and became a favorite among many by the way she elevated her care and personal devotion to each.

That continued for Conway until COVID reared its ugly head in 2019 and she left ROC after being exposed to the deadly virus and concerns from her daughter.

“I spent about two years at home not doing anything and just happened to run into Dorene,” Conway says with grin.

The pair spent time swapping stories and Mosier brought up a possible return to the organization through SkyROCit, which pairs foster children who have a diagnosis of developmental or intellectual disabilities with a caregiver/parent in Their home.

Mosier was able to convince Conway that she had what it took to be a qualified foster parent and soon she was prepping to take a giant leap of faith.

“I took the training, and it was so exciting,” Conway explains. “I began thinking I’ve been around kids and different people all my life and I think I might just be able to do this.

“My mom passed away when I was 25 years old, and she left three children at home that were underage. I had to take those children and plus my own child and raise them. My husband and I raised them and, by the grace of the good Lord, they all turned out great.

“Dorene and I visited different places and in one of them there was the child who I have now, but we didn’t initially go to see him.

“We were checking on another child and trying to get a feel for what it was all going to be like. I looked over at this child who was watching us, and he and I began talking.

“I was talking to Dorene about a week later and I mentioned the child and how much I was interested in him. He was 14 at the time and after a visit with him on a Zoom call, was able to see where I lived and he had many questions about what his room would be like, where would he be going to school and questions like that. I asked him a bunch of questions too.

“After about a week, I thought it over and said I would give it a try,” Conway said after many hours of prayer and discussions with her pastor and her family.

“On the day of transition, we were all excited,” Conway exclaimed. “He knew we would be coming, and he was all packed up and waiting to go.

“My heart was just about beat out of my chest.”

One can only imagine that moment when they came together that day. The room had to be filled with excitement for both, budding love that is now underway with the thoughts and hopes of a good future together.

But it had to start with Day 1.

“He came into our home a little more than a year ago,” Conway begins.

“We had a couple of obstacles getting him in school, but that has been resolved.

“We work with him on following his plan of care primarily. There are really a lot of challenges that are present in any child of his age,” Conway continues.

“When Thanksgiving came, there was excitement and he met my big family,” she says with a smile. “He was a little worried about being in such a big crowd, but after they all started talking, he really opened.

“So at Christmas, my five sisters and some nieces each bought him gifts and he said, “Mrs. Janet, this is the BEST Christmas I ever had.”

And you readers can take his word for it. 

The feelings that must have stirred in this young man as he experienced the heartfelt expressions of Conway and now her family members. They gently brought him warmly into their family circle on that Christmas. A tight family circle.

“It was a very overwhelming thing,” Conway quietly says.

Conway’s grandson,  a Math teacher, is now tutoring the young man to do his best in the classroom.

“We go to Saint Paul CME Church in Washington every Sunday and my pastor, Thomas Jones, spends a lot of time with him.  He has learned a prayer over time and now reads it at the end of the service. He is also a member in our kid’s choir.

“My church family really reaches out to him.”

Conway’s ROC instincts are always ready to contribute where needed. She can recall her years of service under “Dorene’s Way” working as a DSP and draw on that knowledge like it was yesterday to instill many good traits in this young man.

“I always tell him this. This is your home now, just like it’s my home.’

Understanding the rules of life from the mouth of a gentle woman who this young man is learning to trust is so important.

She has life in balance and can devote her time and energy to allow a young human to move into her home and begin putting down true family roots.

This ultimately is a story about trust.

It’s about trust between humans all along the way in this story.  Ultimately it is to trust in a higher power that is at work for all of us.

God Bless Janet Conway.

Rainbow of Challenges, Inc. (ROC) is a private, non-profit, community-based provider of a vast array of support and services for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Rainbow of Challenges is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

For more information about the SkyROCit Foster Program through Rainbow of Challenges, please contact Dorene Mosier at 870-777-4501.