Last year, Patty Dronen started thinking about the upcoming Edina High School senior party. Ordinarily, this Edina mom focuses her attention on sports; she has been the administrator of the Edina Baseball Association and is currently an administrator for the Edina Basketball Association. But when nobody filled a leadership position on the senior party board, Dronen volunteered as lead decorations chair.
In her position, Dronen had to come up with an idea for a party theme. For whatever reason, she thought of the wild, wild west. W-E-S-T. So Edina’s in there, she thought. By the time she made it back home from a walk, she had “We’re Edina Seniors.” She asked her husband for the “T.” “Ta-da?” he suggested. “Together,” she realized.
After hundreds of hours of volunteer work, the party fell into place at Edina High School with cutout buildings flanking its entrance, as tall and squared off as the city in a spaghetti Western, complete with a general store and jailhouse. Friend and fellow volunteer Julie James remembers that Dronen led the effort to foster “positive adult relationships in a melting pot of personalities.” James included that on a form nominating Dronen as an honoree for the Edina Community Foundation’s Connecting with Kids leadership award.
Other details James cited include heading the Hall of Fame committee—taking care of organizational tasks “with a smile”—as well as resolving conflict and respecting confidentiality as Edina Basketball administrator.
Years ago, Dronen spearheaded the “10,000 shots” summer challenge to get Edina kids out in their driveways and lobbing basketballs at backboards for a chance to win a $100 gift card. This was Dronen’s response to parents’ qualms, logged away in surveys, about their children missing out on skills that would give them an edge in sports. Edina parents are involved parents, Dronen says—making outreach easy but pleasing everyone difficult (hence the end-of-year survey).
The Community Foundation selected Dronen as one of its 2017 honorees. She says she was surprised to receive the honor. But it's no wonder. “I’m one of those people where I can’t say no,” Dronen says.
With one kid in college and another entering her senior year at Edina High School, Dronen wonders how her volunteer duties will shift. When it comes down to it, she says, she enjoys the work.
In fact, she discovered her calling as president of her school band at Owatonna High School. Her director didn’t elect her drum major because he “thought I would try to have too much fun with it,” she laughs. He might have been right. But she had enough fun organizing parties and making jackets. Edina is lucky to have such enthusiastic volunteers!