Ode is a storytelling series where community members tell true stories on stage to promote positive impact through empathy.

Ways to Connect

Ally Karsyn
Jordan Edens Photography

"You must have babies so the Muslims don’t take over!”

The residential care facility fades from the rearview mirror. My 24-year-old son, sitting in the passenger seat, turns to me. With a straight face, he says, “If I would have known hitting someone would free me, Pam-e-la, I would have manned up and hit someone long ago. I knew I was being a pussy.”

Ines Cervantes
Ally Karsyn

A story of two strangers searching for strength.  

Shelby Pierce
Ally Karsyn

When I think about my experience growing up here in Sioux City, I think about my five older brothers and sisters and my parents like this umbrella over the top of me that took some hits by the rain that I didn’t.

Mark Scheffer
Ally Karsyn

I was in kindergarten the day my parents came to school with a pan full of cupcakes spelling out “Happy Ayyám-i-Há,” dashes, diacritical marks and all. My classmates loved it, of course. Frosting and sprinkles were all they knew or cared about.


Lisa Naslund
Ally Karsyn

My husband, Jeff, and I have been married 32 years. We raised two daughters and a son. But for two years, I wasn’t sure how to answer the question, “How many children do you have?” You see, our son Sgt. Dillion Naslund completed suicide on December 10, 2012. He was 25.

Linnea Clausen
Ally Karsyn

When my dad was in his 40s, he went through what some might call a midlife crisis, but I like to call it his second childhood. He did what men do. He bought a motorcycle. I loved it. I’d jump on the back, wrap my arms around his waist and cruise the countryside, the wind whipping my face.

One Sunday afternoon, he drove off on that motorcycle to see some friends north of Sioux City, out on old Highway 7, now K22. He never made it.

Caroline Rivera
Ally Karsyn

What I’m doing doesn’t look like adulting.

Ryan Allen
Ally Karsyn

I’m putting my socks and stirrups on when the phone rings. My dad and I had just come inside from the backyard. We’d been throwing baseball to warm up for my game later that day. This is our ritual. I’m a freshman in high school. 

The phone rings several times before I can reach it.

“Hi, is your dad there?” a woman asks.

I tell her to hold on. At the end of the hallway, my parents’ door is closed. I knock.


“Dad, telephone,” I holler through the door.

Jamie Perez
Ally Karsyn

After interviewing an 11-year-old boy, who has his eyes set on bringing home the gold from the 2020 Paralympics Games, a scary thought crossed my mind: I actually, just maybe, might want kids.