Follow Your Dreams, Expand Your Horizon, But Come back to Buffalo

By Annette Pinder

Betsy Stone has had a passion for theatre for as long as she can remember. She recalls her performances while in high school at Summerstage, Studio Arena Theatre, and American Academy of Ballet. While pursuing a major in college in Psychology and Theatre, Betsy would return home during summers to perform with the Colloquial Theatre at Lancaster Opera House and Ujima Theatre Loft.

Realizing she was better suited for comedy performance, Betsy left Buffalo for an opportunity at Second City, the famousimprov and sketch comedy venue in Chicago,where many performers from Saturday Night Live got their start. Betsy even got to meet Tina Fey, Cecily Strong, Chris Redd, and Aidy Bryant. She says, “I loved working at Second City,and am grateful for the time I spent there. I learned so much and metsome amazing people, but I was ready to come home. Buffalo was calling me. I knew I had more to do in Buffalo.”

Contributing to her community has been a lifelong commitment for Betsy, who has volunteered with local charities and non-profit organizations since she was 11 years old. It makes sense then thather lifelong desire to give back led her to become House Manager and Volunteer Coordinator for Kevin Guest House, a Buffalo non-profit whose mission is to provide a comfortable and supportive home away from home for patients and families traveling herefor medical care.

Betsy absolutely beams when she talks about Kevin Guest House. Sitting on the porch of the house in a beautifully carved wooden swing seat she confesses, “This is my dream job. In Chicago I was focused on comedy in a corporate world, but when you’re not out there trying to help in a world that is hurting, you begin to feel that there is a piece of you missing.” Betsy finds the overwhelming focus we have these days on texting and cell phones troubling, believing it affects our ability to communicate with one another. She says, “Working at Kevin Guest House highlights the importance of human contact;ourguests are like family. The strongest people walk through these doors. Getting to break bread with them, hear their stories, share a little of their heart, and spread joy when people are at the lowest point in their lives — that’s not a job, that’s the greatest feeling ever. It’s giving me back the piece that was missing.”

Now that Betsy is settling intoher native home, working at a job she loves, involved in a meaningful love relationship, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones, she talks about the importance of self-care. She says, “I want to become the best version of myself and get healthier. When I lived in Chicago, I could barely afford rent, so coming back to Buffalo,where everything is so affordable,had me focusing more on indulging in food and fun than on taking care of myself. But,now I need to get back to doing what is good for me, especially when I see others coping with serious illnesses.”

One of Betsy’s first goals is to lose weight, which she is accomplishing by adopting a healthy diet using WeightWatchers®, thoughtfully prepping her meals for the week, and exercising. At work, she sits on an exerciseball at her desk, and is up and moving around at every opportunity. Away from work sheloves kayaking, yoga, and is getting back into running.

So far, Betsy’s journey has been an interesting one. She says, “I have had some amazing, unforgettable experiences that have deepened my perspective on the world around me. Now,I am inspired by all of the exciting things happening in Buffalo,and I am even looking forward to getting involved in the theatre community here.”

Betsy is very glad to be home. She tells others who ask for her advice, “Follow your passion, but don’t lose sight of what’s important. It’s good to travel, expand your horizons,and follow your dreams, but come back to Buffalo becauseit’s pretty amazing!”

Meet Betsy atthe upcoming Kevin Guest House fundraising event, Supper in the Street,Sunday September 14 from 6 to 9 pm. This unique farm-to-table dining and socialexperience,on Ellicott Street in downtown Buffalo,includes a family-style dinner, live music, beer, wine, and dessert. Learn more at www.kevinguesthouse.com/events, or call 882-1818.

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