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Otter Story Hour Lets People Share Their Experiences

First published in the April 8 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

Rex McDaniel may have retired as a minister, but that doesn’t mean he has retired his mission.
It’s alive and once again live in person each month, as McDaniel presents his “Otter Story Hour”— a chance for people to come and share experiences in their lives.
The program — the second “Otter” event held live since the pandemic began two years ago — will be held from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. this Sunday at Jones Coffee Roasters, 693 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena.
Each month, McDaniel recruits storytellers to talk for between five and seven minutes on a particular topic. About 40 people attended the last session, and McDaniel said that he welcomes people to contact him if they want to be a storyteller.
McDaniel was the minister of Calvary Presbyterian Church on Fremont Avenue in South Pasadena from 2002-2016, when he retired after 40 years in the ministry.
“This is an extension of my ministry,” the 71-year-old McDaniel said. “It’s people being honest about their experiences of love and grace in their lives. I get the opportunity to participate in a celebration of Thanksgiving. I get to see other people and be with them.”
The “Otter” part of the name comes from singer Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, in which he said that you have to pull up things that mean something to you in order to mean something to the audience.
The pandemic sent the program into an online mode in 2020. They’ve now “rebooted” back to live sessions, which are also shown online on a Facebook livestream.
Each month, McDaniel picks a different theme for the storyteller and welcomes volunteers to tell their stories. He said he doesn’t get a lot of volunteers but is available to help coach them through the process.
“A lot of people experience (all) kinds of problems,” McDaniel said. “To craft it into storytelling takes it another step. The stories show what people have learned and how they have grown. It’s sharing your story with an attentive audience, which can applaud and show its appreciation.
“The stories are almost always about [what] the storyteller has gained in self-respect and gratitude,” he added. “A few are tragic.”
There is no formal question-and-answer session, McDaniel said, but people can relate to what they have heard.
“I’ve had people who came up to me afterwards and said that they came discouraged,” he said. “Then they say, ‘I can’t thank you enough for having my perspective opened.’”
For more information about the “Otter Story Hour” and to learn about the month’s theme, visit its website at

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