Posts Tagged: live generously

Live Generously: Paul Lundquist

Paul Lundquist“I’ve always been a big believer in supporting good people doing good things,” says Winona radio personality, Paul Lundquist.

Paul landed in Winona, Minnesota, 10 years ago. At that time, he was hosting a morning radio show with “pretty much no promo budget,” and looking to grow its popularity. So he offered to host things around the community – pageants, contests, fundraising events – and served on area committees. He was “giving back” in every sense of the word, and as a bonus, networking, promoting his show, and meeting folks in the community.

“I had time and a unique set of skills: I’m able to stand in front of large groups of people and not really care,” he says of his total lack of stage fright. “I was broke – I never could cut big checks… but I still wanted to support cool things happening in Winona.”

Indeed, Winona, population 27,546, is home to a lot of cool things. From Midwest Music Fest to the Great River Shakespeare Festival to Boats and Bluegrass to Frozen River Film Festival…and that’s just a handful on the list.

“I love living in Winona – when you say you want to do something, people want to support it. They don’t say, ‘No way can that happen.’ They say, ‘Okay, how can we help?’ Paul says. “We have a small town, but we can do things, have things, have experiences because we support each other.”

In addition to acting as host for many local events, Paul volunteers for Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and Boy Scouts.

“I don’t necessarily agree with all their politics, but Boy Scouts sure had a huge influence on my life,” he says. “I attribute a lot of who I am to my amazing scoutmaster, Gene Klug.”

Paul grew up in Selby, South Dakota – a tiny town of 700 people. He spouts off the tenets of Boy Scouts without pause: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

“Gene taught me leadership, volunteerism… he taught me about appreciating not necessarily being the star all the time, but seeing pride in helping others,” he says.

Paul and his wife are expecting their first child in January 2016 – a son – and Paul hopes that one day he, too, will meet his own “Gene Klug.” In the meantime, “I’m going to help create a community I want my son to grow up in,” he says.

In addition to radio work, Paul is a realtor. One would think someone with two jobs is too busy, but he makes it work. His tips for doing the same? Working volunteering into your day job – i.e. networking your radio show while hosting an event – is a good place to start. But, most importantly: find something you like to do. “You’re not going to do it if you’re not passionate about it.”

Next?

“Just ask. Go up and say, ‘How’d you get into this?’ Go to the event. Say, ‘What can I do to help?’” he says. “There’s a volunteer opportunity for everyone. The local Humane Society here is looking for people to come in and play with kittens. You can literally volunteer your time to go play with kittens.”

“Another group is looking for people to volunteer two hours a week to deliver sandwiches to folks who can’t get out of the house. That’s bringing food – LIFE – to people. How cool is that?! Two hours a week.”

Continuing, it’s clear he has the passionate part down pat.

“You need to be one Gene Klug in a town of 700 people. Give one smart-mouthed kid a chance to make a difference. You don’t need to head up a big organization. You don’t need to cure a disease. Helping people can be as simple as bringing them a sandwich. Playing with kittens.” – by Aryn H. Nichols

You can volunteer

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Live Generously: Mark Faldet

Mark FaldetIt’s easy to let fifth-generation Decorah native Mark Faldet fool you: He’s the kind of guy who, having traveled the region for work at Luther College for 30 years, could tell you – down to the last left-hand turn – how to get to the best pulled-pork sandwich shop in Iowa. BUT, he himself has never lived more than a mile as the crow flies from his childhood home, a farm on the first crest of Locust Road. In fact, he’s never been away from Decorah for more than 13 consecutive days in his 60-ish years. “It was never my intention,” he says, “but it’s been a pretty good bit of luck, or fate.”

Mark’s was perhaps the hardest interview to procure in this series, thoroughly convinced as he was that none of his volunteerism would warrant this kind of attention. Though in many ways, his under-sung turns of community service are among the most accessible – the smallest of gestures that make a small town thrive.

Some will recognize him as a long-time member of Decorah’s city Tree Board, a division of the street department that oversees the planting and maintenance of the town’s majestic boulevard trees. Others cite him as a regular visitor to the area’s nursing homes, where he knows and is known by the generations that created the fabric of his childhood. Through his high school years, his extended family celebrated every aunt, uncle, and cousin’s birthday together.

And still others have seen Mark pushing a self-fashioned broom/pan contraption down Water Street after the annual Nordic Fest parade, taking some of the back-breaking work out of scouring for candy wrappers, paper decorations, and other debris. When it looks like rain, he’s cleaning leaves and branches out of storm drains in his Broadway neighborhood, where he’s lived for 28 years. And when the snowmelt pools and freezes on the sidewalks in spring, he’s been known to scrape and salt his block, then the next, and sometimes the next.

“To stay in the town you grew up in is in many ways a lot harder than moving away to ‘grow up,’” he says, his eyebrows shooting up in reference to youthful antics he had to live down as he matured. “There’s something about the way people in a community like this still depend on each other that compels them to do right by each other, to give back more freely. It’s understood: you don’t give away what you expect to get back – you can always tell the newcomers by this, you know? – but in return, you get a community with the right balance of understanding and generosity and forgiveness. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.” – by Kristine Jepsen

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Live Generously: Rachel & David Storlie

The StorliesOnce upon a time, in the nearby hamlet of Spring Grove, Minnesota, there came together two professional performers who loved each other – and musical theater – very much. Indeed, their life so relishes in the stage – its lights, its music, the passion of it all –that they themselves were married on one: in Steyer Opera House in Decorah.

Meet Rachel and David Storlie. If their names don’t ring bells, their performances should: one or both have appeared in nearly every recent show produced by Ye Olde Opera House in David’s hometown of Spring Grove – from Little Shop of Horrors to The Sound of Music. Rachel, a trained vocalist originally from Caledonia, Minnesota, wasn’t that surprised when David – who she says bares his full soul on stage – proposed to her in front of their tight-knit community… in the middle of a live production on Valentine’s Day 2009.

Today, their home on a shaded side-street in Spring Grove is virtually a set. Most of their furniture was acquired for one show or another, says David, an IT administrator at DECO Products in Decorah by day and a collector of old projectors, cameras, and vintage instruments off the clock. Rachel, for her part, maintains a private music studio and a wardrobe so character-driven that she could step out as a native to any era in history, from heels to hat (her favorite, acquired in a curiosity shop in London, features a taxidermied raven). “I dress as her for Halloween,” David says with a chuckle.

Such is the dedication that keeps them pouring 100 or more hours of volunteer energy into acting, directing, or managing aspects of each community theater production in Spring Grove, nurturing a special breed of community activist along the way, David says.

“It builds a core group of people who can get things done, like public events and fund-raisers. Actors can just jump into those situations and succeed. With theater, you just try out something, and if it doesn’t work, the next rehearsal/performance, you try something else. I trust the actors I work with on stage with my deepest emotions, and we overcome fears together. We are making ourselves into better people who work well with others.”

Rachel, a master’s candidate in opera performance at the University of Northern Iowa, agrees. “My studies are reaffirming one of life’s greatest lessons: active listening,” a skill she thinks is requisite for successful communication between actor and audience. “It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking about everything from your perspective and your character. It doesn’t come as naturally to understand the thoughts and motivations of everyone around you – but I think those are awarenesses people value in small towns and that are bringing people back to live there.”

“Theater and music build a bridge between imagination and reality,” she concludes, “and I am so humbled to walk across that bridge in an intentional, meaningful way, with David by my side.” – by Kristine Jepsen

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