Posts Tagged: karen trewin

We Asked 14 Locals How They Live Generously… and How You Can Too!

Live generoulsy, let's do this

Live generoulsy, let's do this

Live Generously

Introduction by Aryn Henning Nichols
Interviews by Aryn Henning Nichols, Kristine Jepsen, & Sara Friedl-Putnam
Originally published in the Winter 2015-16 Inspire(d)

It’s easy to look at the world, filled with problems, and get a feeling of hopelessness. You throw your hands up in the air and say, “What can I do about it?” Right?

Well, here’s something you can do: For starters, don’t perpetuate the bad; focus on the good. Then get out there and perpetuate that. Change the world, especially the one right outside your door – your community.

‘Cause here’s the deal: for every bad thing that happens in the world, we here at Inspire(d) believe there are – at least – 1000 good. Probably more. Our entire mission is to tell you about the good stuff. Especially the folks who “live generously.” And we’ll share a little secret: You’re probably one of them already.

We define those who “live generously” as people who are giving of their time, talents, goods, or money to people and organizations in need. It can be as small as helping a co-worker set up a morning meeting or as big as directing the local food pantry.

These pages feature just a handful of the generous people suggested to us, and an even smaller drop compared to the actual number of people out there in our region (and the world) doing great things in their communities. They decide what they want to support – from community theatre to city commissions to band boosters to bikes – and they make it work. The centrai element for every person here, though, was finding a cause they were passionate about, and putting their generous spirit into it.

The benefits of giving are plentiful – for the receiver, of course, but especially the giver:

1. Giving makes you happy.

Research suggests that giving – being kind, generous, and compassionate – makes us happier people, and also makes us feel like we’re part of a community. Giving helps us realize how fortunate we are in our own lives, and allows us to use our talents in a meaningful way. Plus, through giving (especially of our time), we can learn new, useful things and meet new people.

2. You’re making the world (or your part of it) better.

Every little bit helps. It’s true! Collect all your change in a jar for a month and see for yourself. Then go and donate that money! Many nonprofits are underfunded and understaffed – if every person gave a little (whether time or money), we could all benefit a lot.

3. Being kind is contagious.

Ever smiled at a stranger and they smiled back? Yeah, we thought so. The same goes for kind acts and volunteering. When you volunteer your time and other people know about it, they may get motivated to volunteer, too. Even if you only have time for a click, do it. Getting the word out makes a difference. Post something on Facebook. Tweet about it. Who knows, one of your friends might be inspired to do something that makes a huge impact. Added bonus: Research shows that communities with lots of volunteers are, statistically, better places to live, which in turn boosts volunteerism (and continues the cycle).

4. Giving is tax deductible.

Most financial donations are tax deductible, and if you have to spend money on travel or other added costs associated with the donation of your time or money, those items are usually tax deductible too.estimated hourly value of a volunteer is $22.55

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 25% of American’s volunteered in 2014 (2015 data is not yet released). Of those volunteers, 22% were men and 28% were women. 35- to 44-year-olds were most likely to volunteer.

Driftless folks are awesome! Here’s how our three states rank for volunteerism in the US:

Minnesota:
3rd – 36.3% residents volunteered in 2013, contributing 171.3 million hours of service

Wisconsin:
5th – 35.1% residents volunteered in 2013, contributing 163.8 million hours of service

Iowa:
7th – 34.7% residents volunteered in 2013, contributing 72.4 million hours of service

In each of these states, 70-75% of residents said they engage in “informal volunteering”, i.e. doing favors for neighbors.


FURTHER READING…

transforming lives creating opportunity

A Path AppeA revolutionary approach to successars by Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn

“A unique and essential narrative about making a difference in the world — and a roadmap to becoming a conscientious global citizen.” As always, the Kristof/WuDunn team knocks it out of the park. You’ll come away inspired, for sure.

Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant

“Focus attention and energy on making a difference in the lives of others, and success might follow as a by-product,” Adam Grant writes in Give and Take. Grant gives practical tips on making giving a part of life.

CHECK THIS OUT TOO!

Positive change begins by taking actionKaren Trewin (pg 37) recently told us about something we think is pretty cool: “Thrivent Action Teams”. Thrivent Financial member-led projects – such as fundraisers, one-time service activities or educational events – can be sponsored by Thrivent. After identifying a need/hatching a plan, members can apply online for resources to jumpstart the project (it must be completed within 90 days). Once the project is approved, a “Thrivent Action Kit” is sent, with promo materials, t-shirts for volunteers, and a $250 “Community Impact Card” that can be used as seed money to purchase projects, supplies, and to promote the event.

To date, close to 1,000 Action Teams have been sponsored in Northeast Iowa. For example, an Action Team benefitting Decorah Youth Choirs (DYC) was held in spring 2015. The Community Impact Card was used to buy a piece of original artwork that was raffled off to benefit the DYC Scholarship Program, raising $3,000.

Visit thrivent.com/actionteam or call the local Thrivent office at 563-382-1809 for more details.


How 14 locals give their time, talents, goods, and money

Check out Their Stories:


Want to give aid to some of the larger world issues too? Here are some great places to start:Live Generously Be Social

Givewell.org
Doctorswithoutborders.org
Unicefusa.org

INTRO STORY SOURCES:
www.bls.gov/news.release/volun.nr0.htm
www.volunteeringinamerica.gov
www.nptrust.org/philanthropic-resources/
money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2012/04/04/why-helping-others-makes-us-happy
www.everydayhealth.com/depression/how-volunteering-can-lessen-depression-and-extend-your-life.aspx

About the Authors:

Live Generously Authors

Live Generously: Karen Trewin

Karen TrewinOne of the first things you notice about Karen Trewin is her smile. She is, of course, generous with it. Next is her sense of humor – smart, quick, and catchy, just like Karen herself…especially when it comes to giving.

“It’s not always about spending hours volunteering or writing a big check. We can all find ways to make a difference that don’t take much time or cost a cent,” she says. “If we all did that every day – think of what we could accomplish! I just got goose bumps.”

It was this “we can do it” attitude (and a short email) that spawned the “Live Generously” theme for this issue of Inspire(d). We loved the idea of featuring folks in the region who are giving of their time, talent, goods, and money, and wanted to help encourage others to do the same.

“I like to view living generously as a habit to develop – much in the way we try to work a daily workout or eating healthy into our day. It takes practice, but once you start, it’s addicting!” she says. “A kind word, buying coffee for the person behind you in line, or being truly present for someone who needs some time are all examples of giving of ourselves.”

Live Generously is a term that is rooted in Karen’s day job as a financial associate with Decorah’s Thrivent Financial. Thrivent’s mission is to help people make wise plans for their money, but to also encourage them to find ways to make their communities better.

“When I can help people find greater purpose in having a sound financial plan, that’s a good day at work for me,” Karen says.

“Live Generously is a value rooted in stewardship,” she continues. “As a Christian, I have been taught that all we have is a gift from God, and I am responsible not only for being a good steward, but to share with others. My parents and grandparents were excellent models of this value when I was growing up; my family, friends, and community continue to inspire it in me. I volunteer for causes and organizations we care about, and my family has a plan for supporting them financially. We feel strongly about advocating for people who need a voice.”

Currently, Karen chairs the First Lutheran Church Worship and Music Committee – often directing things like the annual Sunday School Christmas program and helping with the Youth and Family program – is on the Decorah Youth Choirs board, and volunteers for Decorah Music Boosters.

“Throw your daily change into a jar and donate it to a charity at the end of the month,” she says of getting started with the live generously mindset. “Pick up an extra jar of peanut butter for the food pantry box at the grocery store. Ask your kids, if you gave them $10, how they would use it to help someone – then go do it together and ask them how it made them feel. Think about things you’re passionate about, and challenge yourself to find ways to help. You don’t have to set out to solve global problems on your first day. There is plenty of need in your own community, and everyone has the capacity to make a difference. Don’t wait for an invitation – just get out there!” – by Aryn Henning Nichols

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