By ROBERTA OLSON
“I was never one to sit idle,” says Stacie Michels, and, “When you are asked to help, you say yes.”
That sums up Stacie Michels’ attitude, and hints at the busy life of the young Sauk Centre wife, mother and software support consultant.
Michels grew up in West Union and graduated from Sauk Centre High School in 1989. Her resume includes serving as a nursing assistant at Galeon in Osakis for 11 years; and positions at Nahan Printing in St. Cloud, and Aria Communications. She spent 11 years as a manager for Service 800, in customer and client service and feedback, working from her home.
Currently Michels works for North American Software Associates of Sauk Centre as a software support consultant. “I work for NASA!” she smiles, eyes twinkling. She works in support and training for the software they develop.
When she is not caring for her family, including husband Walter Michels, and daughters Tia Marthaler, 23, and twins Alexis and Morgan Marthaler, 18, Michels is like a perpetual motion machine.
The Kenny Stepan Bike Run is her longest running volunteer project. “I volunteered 13 years since it started,” she says. “I started with registration, organizing door prizes, and helping with anything. Now I do registration, take care of the anything needed and make sure everything is ready for the bikers’ return.”
“The Bike Run started out as a way to help Kenny and Julie when she was caring for him, and he was fighting ALS. Since his passing, we are passionate about keeping his memory alive. We do it in his memory,” she says.
Funds raised by the bike run are used to award scholarships to Sauk Centre High School graduates through Dollars for Scholars. “It’s leaving a legacy,” Michels says.
The Bike Run is held the Sunday of Sinclair Lewis Days in July in Sauk Centre each year.
It is held a month after the annual Michels Tree Memorial Celebration, the Saturday of Father’s Day weekend, another of Michels’ special volunteer efforts.
“The memorial has been going on for 29 years,” says Michels. “Walt’s (her husband’s) grandfather, also Walt Michels, lost two sons, and the family decided to plant trees in a memorial for them, and invited the neighbors over, and invited others to plant for people who have passed.”
The resulting living memorial, located 10 miles west of Sauk Centre on the Michels farm, has evolved into a nine-acre park-like setting which includes a Zen garden with walkways, arbors, trellises, flowering gardens, a kids playground and picnic tables.
“It’s a very spiritual place,” Michels says.
Michels had an open calendar during the winter season. “I was riding with Peggy Kill to a swim meet,. She’s the district manager of the Salvation Army Kettle Campaign. She was saying how hard it is to find somebody on the kettle coordinator position. I said how hard can it be? Let me do it!”
That was four years ago. Now Michels helps with mailings and outreach, from October to Dec. 31. She spends about 20-30 hours a week coordinating volunteer schedules and ringing the bell. Other local volunteers and her family help, too. “Wally and my daughters fill many shifts. The Salvation Army motto is to do more good. That rang through to me.”
This summer, Michels has been occupied with remodeling of the family’s new lake home, planning the September wedding of her daughter, Tia, and moving the twins to St. Ben’s to start college. Somehow, she will get it all done with a flair and a smile.
She asks of herself, “What have you done to help someone else, and how can you leave a legacy of giving? It’s easy for people to get wrapped up in their everyday life and forget the importance of giving back. There is always someone who has it worse. Sometimes it’s up to us to do better.”
Congratulations to Stacie Michels, August Woman of the Month.