Brian Ace and Theresa Roosendaal lead different and distinct organizations, but the 2023 Kennewick Man and Woman of the Year have a shared calling to serve children and families facing adversity.
Ace, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties, and Roosendaal, founder and executive director of B5, formerly the Family Learning Center, were honored Feb. 12 at the annual Kennewick Man and Woman of the Year banquet, at the Three Rivers Convention Center.
The award is given by Kennewick Past Men of the Year Club and Kennewick Women of the Year to individuals who make Kennewick a better place in the preceding year.
The honorees are so intertwined that Ace endorsed Roosendaal’s nomination after he helped B5 raise money to build its new home. In a complimentary move, a B5 executive endorsed Ace’s nomination for his support of the project.
“She was the pebble that created the ripples to inspire a community to not look past the refugee and sojourner, but to instead be in a relationship with them,” Ace wrote of Roosendaal. “It has been a beautiful thing to watch.”
John McCoy, chairman of B5 fund-raising committee, said its new building wouldn’t have been built without Ace’s support.
“Without Brian’s collaboration and guidance on our capital campaign, we could not have been successful. That is no hyperbole,” McCoy wrote.
Woman of the Year
Roosendaal was nominated by Art King, who was 2013 Man of the Year for his work with Kiwanis Club, the Tri-Cities Food Bank and other organizations.
Roosendaal, he wrote, established the Family Learning Center, now called B5, in 2009 after recognizing that refugees resettled from high-conflict corners of the globe had no one to help them navigate the Tri-Cities. He’d see the problem first hand when newcomers came to the food bank or their children landed in the juvenile justice system.
Children in particular were being set up to fail in environments so unfamiliar that they couldn’t spot their own names written in English, he said.
“I remember a juvenile justice employee telling me the challenge of trying to teach a teenage refugee, with no concept of math, just simple addition,” he wrote.
Roosendaal, who supported refugees as a World Relief volunteer, created the family learning center to provide tutoring, translation and other support for the newly arrived refugees. In 2009, she received a grant to lease an apartment — unit B5 — in an complex serving refugees.
“B5 is a testament to Theresa living her values and love of all people,” King wrote, noting that her work was uncompensated until the board recently voted to award a small salary to ensure the organization remains sustainable.
Traci Pierce, superintendent of the Kennewick School District, said B5’s efforts have been “transformational.”
“Her work is meaningful and inspiring, and it makes a tangible difference for students and families in our school district and throughout the Tri-Cities,” she wrote.
Man of the Year
Ace has spent much of his career with the Boys & Girls Club, with detours to serve with the Children’s Reading Foundation, Chaplaincy Health Care and to found the Columbia Basin Nonprofit Association.
He was nominated by Mark Brault, volunteer CEO for Grace Clinic who was the 2022 Tri-Citian of the Year.
Ace returned to the local Boys & Girls Club as CEO in 2012. In the years that followed, he steered it through an expansion that saw it grow from 12 program locations to 28.
Notably, it established the Kennewick Clubhouse near Park Middle School, providing a “pillar of hope, light and safety” to youth in a community known for crime and gang activity.
“You can always count on Brian to share and give what he can when it comes to the support of youth and our community,” Brault wrote.
Ace used the fund raising expertise gained during the Kennewick Clubhouse project to help B5 raise money for its Jean Street quarters via the Bridges to New Beginnings Capital Campaign. McCoy, the campaign chair, called him an “amazing” partner.
Ken Hohenberg, 2005 Kennewick Man of the Year and retired Kennewick police chief, praised Ace for his investment in kids beyond the Boys & Girls Club. Ace, he wrote, has always been an advocate for community safety.
Ace and his wife, Beth, became foster parents in 2016 and recently adopted several children. They are active in the Foster Care Support program at Bethel Church.
The Kennewick Man and Woman of the Year honors have been given continuously since they were established in 1946 (Lawrence Scott) for men and in 1948 (Blanche Pratt) for women.
Go to kcmoy.com.
Tri-Citian of the Year coming up
The Kennewick Man and Woman of the Year honors are similar to, but distinct from Tri-Citian of the Year. Tri-Citian of the Year is given annually to a local resident who demonstrates exceptional leadership and service to the Mid-Columbia.
The 2024 Tri-Citian of the Year will be announced at a banquet on April 25 by the 2023 honoree, Lura Powell.
Go to tricitianoftheyear.com for tickets and other information.
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