BY EILEEN PERSIKE
The Rhinelander advocacy group Forward Rhinelander recently selected 10 individuals from many nominations to represent the “Top 10” under the age of 40. As a way to get to know them, the Star Journal is featuring one of the 10 each week.
This week we meet Brandon Karaba. Brandon is 2001 RHS grad and currently works as a mortgage loan officer with Peoples State Bank. He said his wife, Kim, and daughter, Braylee are what drive and insprire him.
How would you encourage other young people to get involved in their communities?
• To start, take a look at your interests and look to see if there is something similar. If you enjoy reading, maybe volunteer at the library reading to kids. If you enjoy the outdoors and fishing – Let’s Go Fishing – take kids, seniors, etc. out fishing. Or if you have friends that are in something, join them for a meeting – Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions, Optimists. Maybe there was something your parents used to help out with that you enjoyed tagging along; see if you can get hooked into something there. Biggest thing is give it a shot, put yourself out there. Rhinelander didn’t just become great by itself, it’s because of the amount of volunteers that are part of this community. Be part of that tradition.
Who are your mentors?
• Growing up it was always my parents, they taught me what working hard truly meant. They taught me to be selfless and to help with anything I can. I look back at my dad coaching me as a kid and that was a driving factor of just wanting to help. And later through high school and college the coaches that always wanted to make me better; not just as an athlete but as a person too.
To date, what are you most proud of accomplishing?
• I’m most proud of the Kiwanis lighted outdoor basketball court located at Central School. It was almost a three-year project for me as president of Kiwanis and there were a lot of obstacles and a lot of people that said “no, you can’t do this.” It came together when Kiwanis, Rotary the Gillespie family, and so many others saw the value and helped donate to such a great project. I get comments all the time on how much it’s used.
What is your favorite thing about Rhinelander?
• It’s a community where everyone cares, you can’t go anywhere without seeing someone you know. When something bad happens in the community, everyone rallies together to help. If it’s helping raise money for a family that just lost their house or a loved one. Or, when it’s something good, those same folks will be the first one to say congrats or great job. People care and in this current world we need all the caring we can get.
If you could change one thing about Rhinelander, what would that be?
• There isn’t any one thing that I would say Rhinelander needs to change because if we all do this one thing, the rest will take care of itself. Rhinelander is full of wonderful traditions, but we always need to evolve at the same time; our mindset can be too “closed off” at times. We, as a community, need to be willing to broaden our horizons, take in new ideas and move forward. Change can be good. We can still stay true to our roots while trying to grow. Progressive thinking is what got Rhinelander on the map and that’s what we need to do to grow. Keep thinking of the bigger picture and what we can do to better, not just ourselves, but our community. And when we change that mindset, we will start looking at how we can get this done and stop looking at how we can’t get this done. This is when everything else will fall into place.