Jefferson Award Winner Stephanie Fraase inspiring new generation - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Jefferson Award Winner Stephanie Fraase inspiring new generation of volunteers

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La Crosse, WI (WXOW) -

Stephanie Fraase says the secret to being happy is to put others first.

"I don't really like the word volunteer because to me volunteers are somebody who has to like keep track of their hours or you know show up at a certain time.  For me, volunteering to me just is a daily kind of thing," said Fraase.

Stephanie says she owes her a lot to her mother, who taught her the importance of giving back to the community in which you live, but also to Rotary.

"I am a wholehearted believer in it takes a village to raise children because without things like Rotary and the YMCA and Children's Museum and all these causes that I helped out.  Without them I wouldn't be as good a parent.  The YMCA taught my kids to swim and play basketball and Rotary taught me how to teach them to be volunteers," said Fraase.

Stephanie's daughter Madeline believes her mother changes lives, not only in the volunteer work she does, but by inspiring a whole new generation
to give back.

"My first volunteer project happened when I was about seven.  My sister and I collected toys for children to send down to children down in Peru. We collected about an entire warehouse of toys. She taught us from a young age that volunteering is very important and to think of other people before yourself," said Madeline Severson.

Olivia Severson, Stephanie's other daughter, says she too, had a life changing event, thanks to her mom.

"We went to Nicaragua together.  We spent ten days there with our church.  We went on a mission trip and fed the hungry.  We came back here knowing that we wanted to make a difference," said Severson.

That trip prompted iFeed, a project by local high school students, Interact clubs, and area Rotary clubs, which packed 53,000 meals for families in need in Nicaragua.

Stephanie says planning iFeed took months. The packing took just one day though the feeling from doing something to help others lasts a lifetime.

"If you need a shot in the arm or if you need a little sunshine in your life, find a way to volunteer. It makes you feel so good.  It's kind of a natural high.  It's a way to just walk away, even if you did just a little something, you walk away feeling really good," said Fraase.

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