Jenny Ruth is a dreamer. As the creator and owner of MI Serenity, a social service agency in Rolla that provides independent living for those with developmental disabilities, she's always thinking of how she can better care for others. Her latest dream is to open a vintage-style soda-fountain shop where her family of developmentally-challenged adults can work and learn life skills.

Jenny Ruth is a dreamer. As the creator and owner of MI Serenity, a social service agency in Rolla that provides independent living for those with developmental disabilities, she’s always thinking of how she can better care for others.
Her latest dream is to open a vintage-style soda-fountain shop where her family of developmentally-challenged adults can work and learn life skills. It has been a dream for a number of years now and one that is about to come true on the corner of Pine and Eight Street, the former site of Larry Bowen’s Readers Corner. In October of last year, Jenny and her husband, Ted, purchased the property.
 “Our hope is to be up and running by mid-March just in time for St. Patrick’s Day,” said Ruth. “We are planning on calling the shop “Soda and Scoops on Route 66.”
MI Serenity currently has 27 residents living in 10 houses in and around the Phelps County area. Each house has two or three residents and a professional caregiver.
“It’s very difficult for our individuals to get jobs in the community,” noted Ruth.  “They (the developmentally disabled) are often misunderstood, and yet they have so much to offer. We want to reach the community, we want our clients to be a part of the community and the community to be a part of them.”
With just a few months before the grand opening, the Ruth’s have had the “arduous” task of picking out ice cream flavors and attending (ice cream) dipping school. “It was a difficult task having to taste all of our options,” quipped Jenny.
She said that she wants the store to be authentically 1940s when she noted that the ice-cream-shop concept took shape in the United States.
“We are going to have some 1940s hard candy on hand ,” she added. “I’m even working with a professional ice-cream consultant from St. Louis on the layout. We will have lots of Route 66 paraphernalia adorning the walls as well.”
She told The Rolla Daily News that potential employees must apply for the job. “Just because you live at MI Serenity doesn’t mean you are automatically hired,” she noted.
Ruth envisions two to three hour shifts for each her employees with disabilities. Managers and other employees will be on hand to help mentor and guide them.  
The store will be set-up as a non-profit and open seven days a week. So far, she has received nothing but praise and support on the project from the local community. In short, people love the idea, she explained.
“I am not in this to get rich,” said Ruth. “I want this to be a learning environment for them and for the community at large to get to know our people.”