Patsy “Patti” S. Manus*

Rainbow of Challenges Inc.

City: Hope
Category: Nonprofit Executive of the Year
Year: 2008

After her first child was born with cerebral palsy, mental retardation and a seizure disorder, Patti Manus entered the field of helping children with developmental disabilities.

At the time, there were no services in southwest Arkansas for children with developmental disabilities. Taking one step at a time, she began to organize a school for her daughter and others like her. "Pursuing a dream to help my daughter live as normally as possible, I was surprised by an organization," Manus said.

Under Manus' leadership, the past 40 years have seen Rainbow of Challenges become a comprehensive program that serves more than 550 people from birth to death in 14 counties.

The nonprofit administers a wide array of services for people with developmental disabilities, emphasizing services that help each person achieve the highest degree of personal independence. It now employs 285 workers.

Manus remains passionate about improving the lives of the developmentally disabled and helping them develop to the point where many can get jobs, own homes and pay taxes — a dependent person becoming an independent person.

"It's more than a career," she said. "It's exciting doing things that make a difference."
The organization offers a variety of work and work-training options for people with developmental disabilities — and gives Hempstead County an economic boost as a byproduct. Among its services are the Melon Patch restaurant, a car wash, a bargain store and an upholstery shop, as well subcontract work for manufacturing and production companies.  

Manus said she respects and loves others as she wants to be respected and loved.
"The respect and love I receive rekindle my passion," she said.

She credits her success in building Rainbow of Challenges to her strong Christian beliefs, a supportive family and community, very hard work and a strong determination to "make it happen."

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