Posts Tagged: Ward Budweg

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: Ward Budweg

Ward BudwegWard Budweg has helped build a library in Rwanda, install a clean-water-catching system in Panama, and paint an orphanage in Peru.

But perhaps no place has benefited more from his unrelenting service ethic than Decorah, Iowa, his home of more than 30 years.

“Pay it forward or give it back – it makes no difference,” says Ward, a local carpenter, handyman, and self-described “helper.” “I just know that without the assistance I received from people in the past, I would not be in a position help others today.”

Today this New Hampton, Iowa, native volunteers as council president of Decorah Lutheran Church and a board member of the Decorah Rotary Club, an organization he has also served as treasurer, vice president, and – you guessed it! – president since becoming a member in 1984. He’s also served on the local Elks Club board, completed terms on local tourism and parks and recreation boards, volunteered as director of the annual Nordic Fest Elveløpet race (during its infancy in the mid-1980s), and helped get the Decorah Rotary Club’s Loop de Loop race – which just marked four years in September – up and, yes, running.

It’s no coincidence that much of Ward’s volunteerism through the years – from chairing meetings to picking up garbage along Highway 9 – has been intertwined with the work of the local Rotary chapter.

Indeed, were it not for the generosity of the New Hampton Rotary Club years ago, says Ward, there’s a very good chance he would never have earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Northern Iowa in 1980.

“They loaned me $1,000 to finish my degree, and I never had to fill out a single piece of paperwork because they trusted me to pay it back,” he recalls. “I repaid that thousand dollars years ago, but I will never be able to repay the kindness, generosity, and belief in me those Rotarians showed. That is what continues to motivate me to give back whenever – and however – I can.”– by Sara Friedl-Putnam

Read More “Live Generously”

Let’s Goa to India!

Ward and Jacky Budweg – with fellow biker, Jeff Friedhof – Take Tires to the World Once Again

Intro and Interview by Aryn Henning Nichols

 

Ward and Jacky Budweg are some of the most inspiring people we here at Inspire(d) know. Not that they’d want us to say that out loud (whoops – just did!). But c’mon – after traveling the world for three years, they had to know they were going to inspire a few folks.

“Our trip really wasn’t all that different from any other exploration – it’s all about getting out there for new experiences, no matter where or what you do!” Jacky says with her trademark enthusiasm and positive attitude.

That said, a trip around the world – on bike, no less – IS pretty amazing. On June 24 of 2007, they left Decorah with their bikes, tent, an arsenal of (light) tools – and each other, of course – for an adventure of a lifetime. Starting in Germany, they biked all over the globe, planting feet in 46 countries and tires in 40. Just over three years later, on June 30 of 2010, they peddled home to the Driftless Region (with local friends meeting up to make the ride with them)…but even before that ride back into the valley, they were gearing up for their next adventure.

“When we were in South America, there was a cyclist who said, ‘You guys have to go to India. It’s like no place you will ever go.’ They said it was just so different culturally than even China or Vietnam or Cambodia or any other Asia country …so of course, we had to go,” Ward says.

Jacky jumps in, continuing the story in a “he said/she said” way that they’ve mastered after collecting a many, many tales. “We couldn’t fit India into our trip at that point – we would have only had like two weeks – so we said ‘Let’s make it its own trip!’”

They’ve been planning India ever since – for more than three years now. It was in their minds in all the things they did once they “re-entered’ the US. They got flexible jobs. Tracked their spending. Got things ready. But it wasn’t just for India – India’s just the next trip.

“We know we’re going to travel like this as long as we’re able,” Jacky says.

They’re leaving March 3 and will be back stateside June 12. Friend and fellow biker/Decorah resident Jeff Friedhof will be joining them on the India adventure. Three and a half months is a little more doable than three years for the high school mathematics teacher.

“I’m taking a sabbatical to do this trip,” he says. “As an educator, I really feel it’s important to experience the world. And when you get a chance to travel like this, to a place like India, with world-travelers like Ward and Jacky, you take it. You have to go.”

Much like the world-tour, they’ve got a rough outline of where they’re going, but things are left pretty loose on purpose.

“As we were planning our [world] trip it was not where, but HOW we would do the experience. How many museums. How many miles a day. How much money. To what level are we going to take it?” Ward says.

The “plan” is this: They’ll land in New Delhi and go south along the coast to Goa, take a train back to New Delhi and bike the northern part of India, then bike to Nepal and back. They look forward to whatever’s going to happen, to happen.

“When you travel like this, you never know what little town you will go through, who will stop you, what you’ll get to experience,” Jacky says. “It’s the best way to do it.”

You can follow along on the peddling fun at Ward and Jacky’s blog fromthebenchesoftheworld.com.

What was the most surprising thing about your trip around the world?

Jacky: For me, it seriously was this: when we left, I was really scared, worried about riding along back roads, people pulling over and stopping us and what might happen. What happened was people did stop us, but they asked us if we wanted water. They gave us food. What I feared the most turned into one of the greatest comforts: People are good.

 

Ward: People’s willingness to take us in – afford us what they have. Even with the language barrier, they gave us everything they could. Really everyone was just so willing to give. One guy even drove past us, then turned his car around, came back, and got out. He walked over to us and gave us a bag full of something. He said, with a little English, “These are Korean donuts. You’ve never had these before.” And he was right. We hadn’t.

What was the most inspiring?

Jacky: Well, it’s the same as the first answer, really. And just like Ward said – what I found inspiring were the people with nothing that just want to give everything.

Why travel by bike?

Jacky: To be honest, I’m traveling by bike until I can’t anymore. I’m traveling by bike ‘til I’m 90. It opens all kinds of doors. Sure, the part where you go slow, can take pictures, stop and smell the roses – that part is great. But the best part is that it opens the doors for people to ask, ‘What are you doing? Where are you going?’ It starts conversations and then we get to know the locals. And on a trip like this, you want to get to know the locals. You trust the locals.

 

Ward: I agree with Jacky that you are more open to have people approach you and ask questions. But for me, as we traveled I soon learned that you do not end up in towns or cities that necessarily are looking to see travelers coming through their communities.   Your reception is not the same as if in a tourist city. There seemed to be a more genuine expression of their culture and how we should look at their town. By bike you are not always on the tourist route and that is what I like.

What do you think were the five most important things to have along (besides your bike and tent and each other, of course)?

 

  1. Piece of plastic. This is to sit on, make food on, cover your bags in a downpour, make a windbreak, put water in to bathe.
  2. Duct tape.  No explanation needed
  3. Tools. For bike repair and fixing other stuff for other people.
  4. Air pump. So many flat tires
  5. Salt and pepper and hot sauce. Rice and Pasta actually can be good with those.

 

Additional useful things: cutting board, paper and pen, sunscreen, and a stove to boil water and cook (“But if it breaks,” Jacky says, “Just use an empty tuna can, coil cardboard into it, and then fill it with wax! Ward’s mom taught him that. She was his Den Mother.”)

 

Useful “non-things”: Coded back-ups on personal and financial information and code words for dangerous or tense times. For Ward and Jacky: Danger = Birke; “Shut your mouth, I’ve got this!” = Mora

What do you say to people who say “I could never do that!”?

 

Jacky: Anytime you want to do a trip – any exploration – overseas, in the US, even in Iowa – it’s great! What we did was a trip we wanted to do, but it doesn’t make it any different from that six-month trip you took, or that two-week trip you’re planning. It’s all good. It’s all about getting out and experiencing something new.

 

Ward: Our trip was not a competition where there are people more fit and talented that could have accomplished the same thing. Our trip was a goal of experiencing the world on its terms. We had to adjust our terms as how we would engage all of the cultural nuances. It was hard for me to always be as the Argentineans and the Spaniards. Time moves pretty slow. The toilets of the world also are not for everyone. Not taking a shower for five days would be tough for a lot of people as well. Also the daily food of rice and pasta and pasta and rice would have a lot of people not join the adventure. But as Jacky also said everyone experiences things differently and it is your trip and your experience – we should all embrace that.

 

 

 

Aryn Henning Nichols loves hearing stories about world travels. In her lifetime, she hopes to visit many more countries than her current seven. Better get “planning”!