Carson Eggland learned at a young age to always assume the positive.

“I got that from my parents,” Eggland said. “I’ve tried to live my life like that.”

As executive director of Helping Services for Youth & Families, a nonprofit organization based in Decorah, Iowa, Eggland leads a team working as youth mentors and victims of domestic abuse in a nine-county area.

“We have an outstanding team of committed, hard-working individuals doing their absolute best to serve families and children throughout Northeast Iowa,” he said. “I find fulfillment in the goal of providing a working environment that both retains current team members and recruits top-notch employees when positions become open. The work of both providing quality services in communities we serve and creating a work environment where people can thrive is the ultimate satisfaction.”

He was led into his work for a simple, yet profound desire.

“I want it to mean something to me,” he said.

Every day, every moment has to count. It’s a moral he’s embraced since age 10, when Eggland was diagnosed with cystinosis, a lysosomal storage disease characterized by the abnormal accumulation of the amino acid cystine.

It is a genetic disorder that typically follows an autosomal recessive inheritance pattern. Life expectancy usually isn’t that long.

“Mine is not as severe as others,” he said.

Each of the threads of Eggland’s life goes into weaving the particular culture he helps cultivate at Helping Services, which also extends into the communities it serves. His bachelor’s in business management from the University of Iowa also serves as a huge asset.

Armed with his qualifications and his positive attitude, Eggland helps spearhead a drive-through holiday lights show hosted at the Decorah campground.

The fundraiser not only raises important resources for Helping Services, it also attracts visitors to the community from surrounding counties and states. He has also been involved with the local Decorah Rotary club, both as a board member, and co-coordinator of the annual Loop de Loop road race.

The club has more than 80 members and hosts a number of community-based projects throughout the year. Eggland also has been key in starting the 100+ Men Who Care: Driftless Chapter. The Decorah chapter has met four times during the past year and donated more than $20,000 to area nonprofit organizations.

“Seeing community members become engaged in the group and passionate about various causes has been fulfilling,” he said.

“It is an honor to nominate Carson for Rising Stars Under 40,” said Kristina Wiltgen, executive director of the Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce. “Carson not only works for an organization that provides tremendous resources to the area, but he often goes above and beyond in the community outside of work. His passion for the Decorah area is evident. We are fortunate to have him in our community.”

There’s one other aspect, and it’s immediately apparent to anyone who spends time with Eggland: He takes enormous pride in the work he collaborates on.

“I’m proud that the work we do makes a profound difference,” Eggland said, “whether it’s a youth enrolled in the mentoring program, or a victim of domestic violence assisted by one of our team advocates. These are tangible, direct services that I am fortunate to help facilitate in a meaningful way in my role as a leader.”

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