Steiner Family Spotlight: Lai Family

by Heather Tankersley
Steiner Family Spotlight: Lai Family

This month, I’d like to introduce you to the Lai Family: Jerry, Karen, Dylan and Jaxon along with their two tortoises: Cayenne and Pepper!

(Rumor has it that Cayenne has escaped to the Golf Course so that he can live his best life in the Texas sun!)

I wanted to share their story in this issue because of their involvement in Ukraine and The Ukraine Refugee Relief program that Jerry and another one of our neighbors were able to put together in just a matter of days.

But before I share that, I’d like to introduce you to the family side that I’ve had the privilege of getting to know this past year!

I met Karen (Jaxon and Dylan) at the bus stop on the 3rd day of school. (We decided to go to the bus stop on the other side of University Dr. since Emma had known another family for years from her preschool and this mama needed to make sure someone was keeping an eye on her baby girl!)

We found ourselves chatting quite a bit during those first weeks while the Leander ISD transportation department had to work out some “kinks” ;-). More than once, the bus stop parents were texting one another to make sure SOMEONE was there to meet the bus to collect all the kids since we never did know when it would show up!

From the moment I met Karen and Jerry (and their kiddos), I knew that they were a fun-loving, high-energy and generous crew! Karen ALWAYS has a smile on her face, whether it’s 6:40 in the morning and we’re doing our best to wrangle kids onto a bus, mid-afternoon after volunteering at one of the boys’ schools or sharing a glass of wine at the club on Family Night.

Steiner Family Spotlight: Lai FamilyThey love Steiner Ranch and the sense of community here in UT, the fact that the community is so welcoming and always willing to lend a hand. They bought their home during ‘Snowpolalypse 2021’ and since moving to UTGC, they have found a perfect landing spot for their Texas home and love “that we are friends with so many of our neighbors.”

As I’ve gotten to know this family, I’m always struck by how many cool and unique things that they do week in and week out (like celebrating Jerry’s birthday party at F1, RV camping with friends from all over the country) or a “quick race weekend” in Vegas, to name a few!

No matter what they are doing, they are giving it 100%.

Jerry and Karen own several businesses (including ownership in a winery to an off-road race team). Jerry’s main business is Quantum ePay®. Quantum ePay® is a credit card processing company whose mission is to innovate and streamline credit card payment services through their comprehensive suite of products and services that includes everything from POS systems and virtual terminals to online payment gateways and business cash advances. (quantumepay.com).

Karen is kept equally busy managing multiple properties, wrangling 2 energetic kids and coordinating calendars for their busy travel schedules, family events and more!

When they’re taking a break from the “work” stuff, they enjoy ‘collecting stamps in their passports,” traveling in their RV, and off-roading. In fact, they have their own off-road race team with an energetic four-year-old ready to take the reigns as a monster truck driver when he grows up, “just like his dad”!

As if owning/running businesses, managing properties, and raising kids isn’t enough, they were called to add yet another project to their plate when the war broke out in Ukraine.

The remarkable thing is that they didn’t think twice about it. It was just the right thing to do and they had the resources, contacts, and ability to make a difference on the ground.

It just so happened that Jerry was in Poland on a vacation with another neighbor and friend, when the war started. He recalled the days following 9/11 and how helpless he felt being so young and without the knowledge and resources to do anything.

Being so close to this situation and seeing it unfold firsthand, he decided immediately that he was not going to stand by and do nothing when he was so close AND had the ability to make a difference.

When the violence broke out, “we realized that there was an opportunity to make it easier for refugees to receive necessary services.”

This time, armed with years of experience running successful companies, access to the right people and tools, and the knowledge to put it all together quickly, he was committed to helping in a meaningful way and making an impact for the people who needed it the most… and getting it up and running in a matter of days!

Pulling together his resources (including several other Steiner families), he quickly established the Ukraine Refugee Relief (URR) program (https://ukrainerefugeerelief.org/) that streamlines the process for refugees to request and receive help from vetted volunteers and assists with services such as transportation, housing, and job placement in Poland and neighboring countries.

The Ukraine Refugee ReliefOn this website visitors can sign up to volunteer their available housing, and they are then paired with those needing assistance.

The program has also been instrumental in assisting with triage rescue services for people with special needs who are looking to flee the violence and partnering with NGOs to direct food and supplies to shelters in Poland and Ukraine.

Currently, the biggest need that refugees are facing is temporary housing within the EU, particularly in Poland.

When asked about what being involved in this has meant to him, Jerry said “This experience has been humbling in many ways. It’s also rewarding knowing that URR (https://ukrainerefugeerelief.org/) and its volunteers have been able to make a tangible difference in the lives of courageous refugees in their moment of greatest need.”

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