Posts Tagged: rachel storlie

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:

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

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

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.


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.


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 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


About the Authors:

Live Generously Authors

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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