At Saturday’s dedication ceremony for the new Marinascope sculpture, longtime resident Patrice Thorell was honored with the 2019 Legacy Award from the Des Moines Legacy Foundation.
Below is a photo and transcript of a speech given to honor Patrice:
Resourcefulness is one of the basic principles of the Des Moines Legacy Foundation and the ability to maximize our resources by bringing people together for the common purpose of uniting and advancing our community is at the very heart of our reason for being.
The Foundation was created 20 years ago just as Des Moines began facing the most devastating economic periods since the community’s birth in the late 1800s. There was literally a joke among the leaders of our neighboring cities that Des Moines should be referred to as the Port of Kent – meaning that our only salvation would be to merge with our neighbor to the east.
It is ironic then, that inspiration for bolstering the sense of community that kept Des Moines alive was born out of the creation of the Kent Community Foundation in 1986.
And present at the birth of both foundations was the same woman: Patrice Thorell.
Legacy was founded to encourage members of the Des Moines community to support each other. Its goal has been to build community by assuring support for our children and seniors, particularly those living below the poverty line.
It’s that caring about our neighbors that makes Des Moines a great place to live.
And to do that, Legacy, has had to be resourceful. It has been able to take the already generous donations of our neighbors and by strategically leveraging that money has been able to achieve far greater contributions to our community.
At a time when there was little or no maintenance or civic development going on in our City, as a board member of Legacy Patrice Thorell used her resourcefulness to leverage funds scraped together from events such as Legacy’s annual Bayside Brunch to help disadvantaged kids participate in summer camps and before- and after-school programs.
A whole ton of kids have since enjoyed the chaos of summer camp in Des Moines.
In her capacity as Director of Parks, Recreation and Senior Services, she was able to secure grants to save the flooded buildings in the Beach Park. It’s now on the National Historic Sites registry.
Her grant-securing skills enabled us to develop the Senior Center and secure vans to transport our kids and seniors. Extra care and food for our seniors has been delivered. And we found the resources to aid in the development of Steven J Underwood Park and countless other projects involving Parks, Recreation and Senior Services.
City parks have been, and continue to be, refurbished at a fraction of the cost to City residents.
By working with Legacy, Patrice Thorell was able to launch the Foundation’s No Child Left Inside initiative to secure new playground equipment so all Des Moines children will have the opportunity to play outside. The project is being fueled by a pledge by the Legacy Foundation to raise just $205,000 to be used as the match to secure $2.5 million in outside grants.
The key has been to leverage our resources – to resist the temptation to blow whole wads of money when carefully shepherding of our meager funds allows us to provide maximum return for minimum investment.
Legacy’s most recent evidence of Patrice’s resourcefulness culminated in the addition earlier this month of the “Marinascope,” to the City’s public art collection.
She convinced internationally renowned artist George C. Scott to create an artistic masterpiece that honors both the historical and nautical aspects of our city.
The artist repurposed a discarded marine buoy into a larger-than-life kaleidoscope. It was accomplished by using funds raised by Legacy, matched with Port of Seattle Airport Communities Environmental grant, and the generosity of artist and many other Legacy supporters who appreciate how public art can be used to unite and propel our community towards a better economic future.
It has been that type of dedication and resourcefulness that has sustained the existence of Des Moines.
Thus, for her inspiration and resourcefulness — and most importantly for her dedication to fueling the eternal flame of community spirit and optimism — the Des Moines Legacy Foundation Board of Directors is proud to bestowed upon Patrice Thorell its 2019 Legacy Award.