Photo: Veterans Monument Unveiling at SMA

Catalyzing Opportunity with “Testimonies”

Posted on November 12, 2022 by Kellie Alexander, TPF Fellow 2022/24
"Testimonies" by Larry Kirkland line Patriot Plaza with images and quotes focusing on the personal experience of service and sacrifice through service member or family member perspective. These are beautiful white marble tables measuring 8'6" tall with specialty lamination and polishing encapsulating the touching glass images. Shortly after the 2014 grand opening of Patriot Plaza, several of the glass tablets began to delaminate, causing the Florida humidity to creep inside and fog the image. With The Patterson Foundation's commitment to excellence, all sixteen glass tablets were replaced. TPF went one step further to ensure that the glass tablets, still in perfect condition, found new homes throughout the Suncoast region. Thanks to Scott Lempe's leadership, the saved original glass tablets are now permanently displayed at Tidewell Hospice, Goodwill Manasota, University of South Florida, and Sarasota Military Academy (SMA) – the unveiling of the "Courage" testimonial, which I humbly attended.

TPFers arrived at SMA before sunrise for a full campus formation on Thursday, November 3, 2022. You can experience the unveiling ceremony through video thanks to Bill Wagy: Patriot Plaza "Courage" Unveiling — Sarasota Military Academy. The event itself was spectacular. Cadets at SMA are certainly the next extraordinary leaders of Sarasota or any location they find themselves making a difference.

Through this experience, I witnessed further what philanthropy can do. TPF optimized on a situation that didn't go quite right and utilized it to further Patriot Plaza's reach and connections in the community. One of TPF's values that strongly resonates with me is joyful stewardship. By respecting resources and gifting these glass tablets throughout the community, TPF is living its value entirely and building stronger relationships along the way.

Upon reflection, I remember a quote widely attributed to Theodore Roosevelt that crossed my path while studying Philanthropic Studies at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. It reads: "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." This quote has stuck with me throughout the past several years and emerges in memory at specific moments. Instead of denying action because of difficulty or setbacks, we must pursue opportunities utilizing our resources and environment. Combining joyful stewardship, human capital, and the beautiful glass tablets, TPF catalyzed opportunities even in unforeseen circumstances. The military lifestyle resembles the layers in this quote. As a service member or dependent, you do not have 100% say in where you are or what you do day in/day out. Patriot Plaza and the artwork inside resemble service members' hardships and showcase how each Individual makes the best of their situation. Now a piece of this incredible message of "Courage" has made its way further into the minds and hearts of students and community leaders.

Next time we encounter a situation where things don't go as expected, may we all embrace and look past inconvenience to see opportunity – then find the courage to take action.

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