"Far beyond being just a survivor, she is a doer, a difference-maker, an impactor," Motter said.
Having never attended the annual dinner, Saracco said she was surprised at the lengths her friends went to to get her to attend.
"I told them all I had never seen so many people lie with a straight face," Saracco said.
"I had always figured that someone had to live their whole life here," Saracco said of her thoughts on criteria for winning the award. "I'm a relative newcomer."
She said there are many in the community whose work sometimes goes unnoticed and are deserving of the award.
Saracco moved to Brawley in 1972 when her husband served two years of alternative service at Clinicas Del Salud.
She held a private practice of internal medicine until she retired in 1990 after a bout with breast cancer.
The following year, she enrolled in the music and conducting program at Scripps College, where she graduated in 1993 with a bachelor of arts in music.
Between the years of 1993 and 1998, she served as assistant conductor for the Imperial Valley Symphony.
She also serves as music director for the Brawley First Presbyterian Church.
Saracco credits her spirituality as motivation for achieving the work she's done.
She has in recent years boosted the artistic climate of the area having led the North County Coalition for the Arts from its beginnings as a branch of the Imperial County Arts Council to its pending non-profit status.
She was instrumental in the refurbishment of the Palmer Performing Arts Center and increased offerings the theatre showcases each year including producing local productions of "Annie" and "Oliver".
The Imperial Valley Regional Occupation Program's Steps of Success program's arts component has been coordinated by Saracco during the past year.
"Patty is truly making a difference in the lives of these young people," Motter said.
The program targets low-income teens ages 14-21 and offers classes and workshops in photography, violin, and guitar.
Staff Writer Anthony Longoria can be reached at 337-3452.