25 Years of Pat Thielen

This month is monumental to us for many reasons. March 2013 not only marks 50 years of Panorama, it also brings a special anniversary for one of our most beloved employees.

Patrick Thielen has been a retirement advisor at Panorama for 25 years.

Before joining us, Pat served in the United States Marine Corp, worked for Union Pacific Railroad, and the Olympia Brewery. Later, he and his wife operated their own independent insurance agency, which they stayed with until 2004.

PatAs a retirement advisor, Pat works with those who are considering life at Panorama. He takes on the task of presenting our complex community to prospective residents, a job he has mastered with enthusiasm. When you listen to Pat explain all that comes with life at Panorama, it’s easy to see he is a wealth of knowledge for a topic that he truly believes in.

So what has kept him here?

Pat says “free coffee.”  All jokes aside, “I love my job. I’m still having fun. If I wake up one morning and I’m no longer having fun, I’m outta here.”

Luckily for us, we will never really lose Pat; he and his wife became residents in 2010. Sharing the story of Panorama is something Pat loves to do, not only as part of his job but as a resident who believes in the community and lifestyle that comes with it. His favorite part about being a Panorama resident is the maintenance-free living.

“Even though we loved [working on our house and yard] before, it becomes a chore after a while. This frees up a lot of our time.”

That “free” time is well used. He hasn’t become too involved with resident organizations and activities yet but, with five grandkids, sporting events are Pat and Joy’s real passion.

“We could be at five or six sporting events a week, and we love that.”

Childhood sports opportunities are something Pat takes to heart. Knowing the expenses associated with youth sports, it is clear there are many children missing the opportunity to participate.

“Four years ago, Joy and I started a non-profit organization called All Out Sports. It’s my passion to make sure kids can get into sports.”

All Out Sports has grown from an idea to a successful 501 (c) (3) corporation that sponsors children who are financially unable to play sports in the Thurston County area. The program is designed for kids up to 18 who meet the academic performance requirements, as approved by their school principal. The organization is currently sponsoring kids in a variety of athletics including swimming, karate, basketball, baseball, cheerleading and more.

Through donations and fundraisers, such as the annual fall dinner auction and summer golf tournament, All Out Sports is able to provide the funds necessary for kids to participate in their favorite athletics. For one particular little girl, that meant purchasing a bathing suit and covering the YMCA membership fees so she can take swimming classes. That little girl has showed her appreciation for this support in letters written to the board of All Out Sports with a description of her progress, a “thank you”, and “I hope I can swim again next year.”

Making an important difference in those children’s lives will keep Pat busy even after he retires. He plans to focus his time on his grandkids and All Out Sports.

We aren’t ready to lose Pat as an employee and we are all glad to know that when he does decide to retire, he will never be far.


Panorama Security Forum

Panorama SecurityToday we had the Lacey Police Chief, Dusty Pierpoint and Lacey Crime Prevention Officer, Sean Bell join us for an informational forum focused on the security of our campus and the general area.

Chief Pierpoint and Officer Bell, along with Panorama President and CEO, Operations Assistant, and Security Supervisor, talked about what Panorama and the Lacey Police Department do to continuously ensure the security of our campus and the safety of Panorama residents.

All 140 acres of Panorama’s beautiful campus is patrolled by security officers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition, the Lacey Police Department patrols our campus daily. Each home on campus is covered by neighbors watching out for neighbors, Panorama employees knowing what to look for, and campus security officers physically checking each home that is temporarily unoccupied for whatever reason.

The majority of the session was reserved for resident questions and specific topics regarding the broader Lacey area but the big take away for residents was that Panorama and the Lacey Police Department are working together consistently to ensure our security.

Chief Pierpoint left us feeling confident in our security. Stating that he sees countless neighborhoods and businesses that don’t compare to Panorama  in its constant vigilance. “You are lucky. There are none that care as much as Panorama cares about what’s happening on this campus.”

Active Retirement – Always on the go!

Around here we always say “you can be as busy as you want to be.” Retirement can mean relaxation. It can mean adventure. Or, it can mean the perfect combination of both!

Fitness - Active RetirementAnywhere you go on our 140 acre campus you will find active retirees enjoying life to the fullest! On any given day, Pan Hall plays host to those who want to relax by the fireplace with a cup of coffee, read the newspaper, and of course converse with fellow residents. Other locations on campus, such as the Convalescent Center and the Patio Sale Barn, offer endless volunteer opportunities that our residents love to take advantage of. Our Aquatic and Fitness Center is hopping with those apt to stay physically fit and our Auditorium provides an endless supply of stimulating entertainment.

This is just a sample of what’s happening each day on our campus. Not to mention the myriad of off-campus opportunities offered to residents by our Lifestyle Enrichment Department.

In the past week alone, 275 Panorama residents participated in 9 different special activities. That’s 25% of our Independent Living population!

Residents visited the Washington Center for Performing Arts on Thursday for “Capitol Steps” while others saw “Oliver” at the Capital Playhouse on the same day.

Friday was the St. Patty’s Day dinner in the Chambers House Restaurant. 100 residents enjoyed an Irish feast and music by “Cricket on the Hearth,” a Celtic musical group.

Saturday was jam packed with the NY Metropolitan Opera, the Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Harmony Sweepstakes a cappella competition hosted by Masterworks, and a Zentangle Feathers Workshop on campus.

Residents finished off the busy weekend with another trip to the Washington Center for Performing Arts to see the Verdi’s “La Traviata” opera and a trip to Marymoor Park for the Cirque du Soleil presentation “Amaluna.”

We are fortunate for the plethora of opportunities offered through Panorama for residents to take their pick!


Active Retirement – Discover the Fun of Belly Dance

Belly dancing is an ancient and exciting dance style for women of all ages, shapes, and sizes. Discover this ethnic, folkloric, and traditional style of dance as a low-impact exercise. Class begins on Wednesday, April 3rd at 3:00 pm in the Panorama Aquatic Center.  This class is open. You don’t have to be a Panorama resident to join. Come share in the fun!

Call to register.  Instructor: Cheryl (Mirage) Workman  (360) 459-2211

Learning in Retirement – World in Washington: An Exploration of Literature and Our Lives

Yesterday we welcomed Dr. Anu Taranath of the University of Washington to the Panorama Auditorium for a discussion on literature and how it can shape a community and bring people of diverse identities together.

Dr. Taranath has been teaching world literatures at the University of Washington since 2000. She is the recipient of two Fulbright-Hays Awards and the UW’s Distinguished Teaching Award 2010. She was also included in the Seattle Weekly’s “Best of Seattle 2008.” Dr. Taranath is the founder and director of a study-abroad program based in Bangalore, India.

Changing Demographics in WashingtonHer visit to Panorama brought us an inspiring eye-opener of diversity issues and multiculturalism. Dr. Taranath presented an overview of the changing demographics in the West Coast and, specifically, Washington state. Figures show an increasingly diverse population moving towards a level amount of caucasians and other ethinicities.

Regardless of geographic location, people are naturally preoccupied with the difference between their identity and the identity of those with whom they interact. There is an ever-present focus on “those people” in comparison to “these people.” This concept of human nature highlights the importance of understanding each other. As Dr. Taranath put it: “It’s not easy to get along but we still try” and literature is one of the best ways to better understand others.

She introduced two prominent pieces that offer a window into the minds of others and their ideas.

“No-No Boy” a novel by John Okada, follows an Japanese-American man in the aftermath of the Japanese-American Internment during World War II. The protagonist, Ichiro Yamada, returns to his home in Seattle, Washington after spending two years in internment and two years in federal prison for refusing to serve in the military and denounce the Japanese emperor. Ichiro struggles with finding his place in society, facing the moral and social fallbacks of his decision.

Dr. Taranath shared this brief overview of “No-No Boy” as the novel gave a voice to the silent anger of Japanese evacuees.

The second piece we discussed is a poem entitled “Halfbreed Girl in the City School” by Jo Cochran. The subject in this poem is a young girl who faces stares, questions, and torment from her peers and some adults at her school who are preoccupied by her ethnicity. “You are dark enough to question. You are light enough to ask” say the children at her school. The speaker of this poem offers a glimpse inside the little girl’s world as someone who is different from the majority surrounding her.

Dr. Taranath asked us to reflect on the messages in these two pieces and how they reflect identity. We considered the importance of understanding others in our world and how literature helps us keep our personal worlds growing and our minds stretching.


The Panorama Auditorium is Booming!

Panorama AuditoriumThis year, in the month of February alone, we had 2,393 people in the Panorama Auditorium for a total of 43 events! The big contenders were events like Armchair Traveler, Learning in Retirement lectures and videos, musical variety programs, and new movie showings.

These events couldn’t happen without the residents who help run the place. February saw 1,268 volunteer hours from ushers and program participants to techs and administrative duties.

Panorama Auditorium is the place to be!

Oh La La!

Ciscoe with Panorama Green Team membersLast week we welcomed popular gardening guru, Ciscoe Morris, to Panorama! Ciscoe took a tour of our 140 acre campus, accompanied by our own gardening experts and the Panorama Green Team, before talking to a group of 245 enthusiastic residents in the Panorama Auditorium.

Ciscoe Morris in the Panorama AuditoriumFrom the get go he had us in laughter and intrigue. His charismatic and humorous presentation focused on how to have a beautiful garden with less maintenance and fewer chemicals. Ciscoe also incorporated some of his favorite landscape design techniques.

Ciscoe Morris in the Panorama AuditoriumYou can catch Ciscoe on Saturday mornings on KING 5 and 97.3 KIRO FM. He also takes viewer questions during Gardening With Ciscoe Live Friday nights at 6:00 pm on NWCN (North West Cable News).



Learning in Retirement – The Fukushima Accident: Myths and Realities

Fukushima: Myths and RealitiesOn March 11, 2011, the Japanese Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was hit by a 130 ft tsunami, caused by a 9.0 earthquake. This disaster caused the plant to lose power, preventing the means necessary to cool the nuclear reactors on site. The following days and weeks triggered some panic along the west coast of the United States.

As part of our Learning in Retirement series, we invited Al Conklin, Senior Health Physicist and Outreach Program Manager from the Washington State Department of Health, Office of Radiation Protection to speak on the events of this incident and the impact on Washington State. Being on the front line of public communication for this event, Al presented a fascinating account of the local public reaction and the realities of the situation.

Although the plant had numerous backup power sources, they were not equipped to withstand a tsunami of this size which flooded the emergency diesel generators. Pressure began to build up in each of three reactors at the site. In order to prevent explosion, small amounts of radioactive gas were released over periods of time within the first couple days. However, the combination of hydrogen within the reactors and oxygen in the atmosphere created a series of explosions anyway, causing the release of high levels of radiation into the atmosphere.

These events naturally caused heavy concern across the western coast of the United States. Although the situation never became a radiological emergency for the U.S., there was a “public communication emergency” in Washington state.


Initial concerns within the public were provoked into fear, and in some cases panic by inaccurate media reports. Sensational headlines like “Deadly Radioactive Cloud Heading to the U.S.”, “Cancer Risk Could Go Way Up”, and “This could be worse than Chernobyl, which killed thousands” permeated news outlets, raising alarm. As reported by the Office of Radiation Protection, the perceived danger was not the reality.

The 1,400 calls and e-mails received by Al Conklin’s department in the succeeding months were answered with reassuring facts and data.

Most of the material was contained and would not reach the west coast in high concentrations. Iodide 131, the primary substance of concern, has a rate of radioactive decay that would not allow it to last long enough in the atmosphere in order to travel the distance between Japan and the U.S. Nonetheless, the department collected samples and gathered data to ensure Washington was not being exposed to harmful amounts of radioactive material. The data showed minute traces of material that would have no effect.

Fukushima Debris

The audience had many questions for Al that he answered graciously and thoroughly.

-When will the Japanese who had to evacuate be able to return to their homes?

“Those evacuated have started to go back home but it will be a while until everyone can return. It will be years before agriculture can recover.”

– What’s happening now with the site?

“Plans are developing to stabilize the reactor cores until total shut down can be accomplished”

– What is being done to prevent another incident?

“The back up diesel generators have been moved up higher to prevent future damage.”

– What about the future use of nuclear power?

“Advanced technology and safety precautions encourage more use of nuclear reactors as there are no green house gases involved and minimal waste.”

At the end of the presentation, Al was thanked with a round of applause and a personal thank you from residents. “Thank you for a data-driven, straight forward discussion.”