One of the most important values in my family: giving back to the community

Rede von Kate Dearstyne anlässlich der Begrüßungsfeier von START-Vorarlberg am 30.November 2023:

Hello, I’m Kate Dearstyne, the elder daughter of Bill and Maude.

Welcome to a New Year with START and thank you for your commitment, hard work, and support!

As my parents take another step towards retirement, I have the opportunity and responsibility to represent our family, our values and goals to steward START Vorarlberg in collaboration with Katrin and Stefanie.

Here is the story in a nutshell.

We are American, and it started with my grandfather during World War II in Germany.
More specifically, with my newlywed and adventuresome parents’ decision to work in Germany in the early 1960s.
When they finished graduate schools in business and in education, the next adventure began. They embarked when I was 18 months old to Mexico. We lived in six countries in Latin America and Asia.
While my father worked with Gillette and Johnson & Johnson, my mother volunteered her services through our schools and churches.

When asked if I have a favourite country, I always reply: I loved them all!

I was fascinated by the diversity, the land and architecture, the foods, languages, religions, mostly the people – kind, friendly and hard working. When I was 11 and we lived in Singapore, my parents decided we had to learn to ski in Obergurgel in Tirol! The next year we went to Zürs am Alberg, and we have been going back ever since.

In the early 1990s, my parents decided to buy an apartment in Bregenz. About 15 years ago, they finished building their home and are now permanent residents in Austria.

Over the years, we have often talked about our family’s values.
They are most importantly: family, education, striving for excellence, leadership, valuing diversity, adventure, fun, and giving back to the community.

Our experience and family values compelled my parents to the founding and beginning of START-Vorarlberg.

It’s a simple equation:  our family is enriched by our lives and experience in Vorarlberg … And it is our responsibility to give back or to pay it forward, helping the communities and the State in the years to come.

How do I fit in? What is my connection?

Having grown up in the way I did, it was hard to shake the travel bug. I studied International Relations and Geography and went on to earn my Masters in Public Health and Business Administration, so that I could work in International Development. I was fortunate to live over 10 years in London, working for an international NGO helping to design and manage development projects in Asia and Africa.

My husband and I spent 18 months living in Austria and our older boy was born in Bregenz. While raising our boys, I have volunteered my time and talent through their schools and nonprofits working within our community. As a whole family, we make the commitment to visit my parents in Bregenz once or twice a year, for the benefit of the family unit and all which we enjoy beyond.

While I currently live in California, I have grown up the daughter of Bill and Maude.
We have long talked about succession and responsibly stewarding START-Vorarlberg, together with Katrin and Stefanie.

I’m sure you know it is hard to say “No” to my father.
Two summers ago, he volunteered me to teach Yoga via Zoom to START-Stipis across Austria, and it’s a practice I look forward to now every week.
COVID enabled me to transition my studio Yoga classes to Zoom and build a community of students in California, England, and thanks to START, in Austria.

While my role and responsibilities are evolving, I am grateful for the opportunity to work with START and to support the organization and my family’s legacy and commitment to Vorarlberg in gratitude for all we have received and enjoyed through the last 45 years.

Thank you!

Kate Dearstyne
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