Everyday People by Stan Lang
Welcome to this week’s edition of Everyday People. We will be visiting with Stacy Banyai at her home about the way she is giving back to the community and beyond.
(It’s late afternoon as I drive up to a beautiful home with a covered front porch, attached garage and a large shelter of some type. Flowers are in bloom everywhere, and the trees are starting to really show their fall colors. )
SB: Welcome, Stan, come on in! It’s good to see you.
SL: Thank you. Wow, the drive out here was breath-taking.
SB: I know, isn’t it fabulous? The fall colors are incredible this year. We really love it out here. Oh…don’t bother taking off your shoes, I want to take you out back. It’s about time for the deer to come out and grab a drink from the stream.
SL: That would be great to see.
SB: I’ll give you a quick tour of the house before we head outside.
SL: This place is great. It feels so open and inviting.
SB: Yes, we love having family and friends come to stay with us. We have three children, and they are slowly building families and we wanted to make sure there was enough space for all of us to be together at once.
Let me take you downstairs.
(we walk downstairs to a large room that spans across half of the house, it is a large shared creatice space where one half has dark cabinets and the other is light cabinets, both with dark countertops. Between the two halves is a large island/table and there’s a conversation area tucked in the corner)
SL: This is a really great space! It looks like your husband Clay has a lot more room now for his leather work.
SB: Yes, it’s a bit different than the one you interviewed him in, isn’t it? (chuckle)
SL: It sure is. I love that it’s so open and you both can be working at the same time but still be able to talk to each other.
SB: That’s my favorite part. I love that we can both be creative and still be able to talk to each other and get feedback on what we’re working on. It’s also great when we need to share each other’s supplies, too.
SL: How long have you been making cards and paper crafting?
SB: I started two months before our middle child was born in 1991. I made his birth announcements. That was 35 years ago. So, it’s been a long time.
SL: Well, it looks like you have a lot of supplies and a lot of room to create. What do you do with the cards you make?
SB: I used to make them and then tuck them away in a box or a drawer somewhere and grab one if I needed one. But after I took a self-development course called The Master Key Experience, I realized that all this creating and card making was my passion, a part of why I’m on this earth and I needed to use it to benefit others along with myself. So, I committed to sending out three cards a week to family and friends. Then I decided to start making cards to donate to the Cards for Kindness program. I committed to sending them 100 cards a year. This program then sends the cards to children’s hospitals, crisis centers and retirement homes. It’s small, but sometimes those cards make a big difference for someone that is battling a terminal disease or going through a rough time or just missing their family. I love that what brings me joy to do can also bring joy to someone else.
SL: That is a great way to use your gifts.
SB: Thank you, I think so, too.
Why don’t we step out to the back yard and I’ll show you around.
SL: Sounds good to me.
(We step out onto a walk-out patio. I see the bright colors of fall, I can smell the combination of Pondarosa Pine and fallen leaves, I can hear the water trickling in the stream, and feel the crisp air of fall. It was like a Nature Nirvana)
SL: This is absolutely stunning!
SB: Isn’t it? This is my favorite place. I love how beautiful and peaceful it is back here. Let’s go up to the deck and I’ll grab something for us to drink.
(I am amazed at the peacefulness in this back yard. As I sit down on the deck I see a deer wandering out of some large rocks and over to the stream to drink.)
SB: Here you go.
(she hands me a cup of hot Asian Pear tea)
SL: It’s so quiet and peaceful out here.
SB: It is. I love bringing my coffee or tea out here in the mornings, soaking up the sun, listen to the birds chirping about another beautiful day, watch the deer come over for a drink. It’s a great place to just sit and think, meditate and be grateful.
SL: Yes, I can definitely see that.
So, tell me about that shelter that’s over there. What do you use that for?
SB: We use that for large gatherings. Clay and I both know a lot of people with the same hobbies/passions as ours. I get all my card making friends together and we spend a couple of weekends a year making as many cards as possible to send to Cards for Kindness. It’s such a fun way to get together and catch up on each other’s lives, share creative ideas and do something good for other’s. Not to mention it’s just a really peaceful getaway from the every day grind of life.
Clay knows people in the leather working community from all over the world, and it’s so great to watch them all get together and work on leather projects. They are a loud and fun-loving group and it always amazes me that this one interest can bring people together from all over the world.
The building is great because the glass walls can be lifted up and it can be open in the summer. It’s great light to work by and the view can be extremely inspiring. In the winter, we keep the walls down and use the fire place to keep it warm. We love that it can be used all year long.
SL: That is awesome. I’d like to come by the next time you have a gathering like that.
SB: You’re in! We’ll be having another just after the first of the year. I’ll make sure to let you know when the date is set.
SL: I heard from someone downtown in Rapid City that you are volunteering for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. How did that come about?
SB: Well, again, it was the Master Key Experience course I took. I decided to take the course because I was 55 years old and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I was pretty sure there was a reason I was put on this earth, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. A very good friend of mine said “You know.” I thought she was crazy when she said it because I couldn’t for the life of me think of what it would be. She was right, though.
I had a rough childhood and there was a person that has stood out for all these years. I don’t remember her name, but I remember her being very kind, and accepting me as I was. Which at that time in my life, I thought I was extremely damaged and inferior. She saw me. She saw the beauty inside. I so needed that. I think a lot of kids need that.
I have always had a soft spot for kids, especially ones that have had a lot of family stuff to deal with along with navigating through crazy hormones and figuring out who they are. I have always wanted to be that person that accepts them, no matter what. Who sees beyond the tough exterior or the quietness.
Through the years I have had this thought that I would like to work with kids on some level. I dismissed it pretty quickly with all kinds of excuses…I would get too attached, I couldn’t handle the sadness of them being in pain, I would need a college degree…so it got tucked in the back of my brain, only to resurface again and be met with all the excuses again. I heard about BBBS shortly after moving to Rapid City. One of my customers at the store was a Big Sister and I thought it was a great idea, but again, more excuses and to the back of my brain it went.
So, when my friend said “You know”, she really was right. It’s been there for a very long time. During the MKE course, I had to figure out what my Personal Pivotal Needs for my life were. What set my soul on fire. After some digging, all of those old thoughts started to resurface and I really did know all along.
It’s been a great experience. I love being a positive influence on someone young. There are so many adults walking around thinking they are inadequate or broken because there is so much judgement in the world. If only they had someone to tell them they are exactly who they need to be and that it’s a disservice to the world not to find out what sets their soul on fire and then share with the world what only they can give.
There is nothing better than guiding someone young to finding their very own beauty, their own bliss and watching them find ways to share that with the world.
SL: That is great, and commendable.
SB: I don’t know if it’s commendable, but I do know it’s what I was put on this earth for and it’s what brings me the greatest joy.
SL: I want to thank you for taking time to talk with me today, and this place is really beautiful.
SB: You are so welcome, Stan. I appreciate that you came out today. It’s always a pleasure to share this little slice of heaven with others.
(I drive off into the sunset, with fall colors blazing on the Aspen trees, tall Ponderosa Pines shade some of the sun, and deer snacking on the roadside. This was a great day!)