The belief that you should not judge an individual until you have walked a mile in his or her shoes is the central driving force for Deva Taylor, Division of Benefits and Medical Eligibility (DBME) Program Case Auditor Supervisor. She knows first-hand life does not always go as planned.
“Serving the clients who come through the door reminds me that one or two bad breaks can lead to a person coming to us for help,” said Taylor.
The divorced single mother of four says the biggest misconception people have about the clients served by DBME is that the clients create their own circumstances. She knows when life takes a wrong turn it can leave a person feeling overwhelmed.
“Some have lost their jobs, others are divorced and trying to start over again,” said Taylor. “That feeling is what drives me to serve each client the best I can,” she said.
But Taylor’s desire to help those in need does not stop when she leaves the office. The Arizona native used her own personal hurts and disappointments to found Beyond The Hurt, a local non-profit dedicated to assisting single mothers.
“The pain from my 2008 divorce, and the strain of trying to fill the role of mother and father, led me to develop Beyond The Hurt,” said Taylor.
It was a difficult journey but Taylor refused to give up. She credited family members for helping her through the difficult transition to single motherhood.
“I am so thankful to my father and brother for stepping up to fill the father-figure role vacated by my ex-husband,” she said. Forgiving him was the key to Taylor’s ability to move forward. “Despite the mental and physical pain, I didn’t want to harbor [bitterness] in my heart.”
Taylor says Beyond The Hurt represents hope for single mothers trying to start over. Her non-profit provides household items such as laundry detergent and toiletries. While these items may seem small, their provision can be key when one takes into account how often these mothers are forced to choose between food and paying a utility bill. In addition, the organization also assists individuals in seeking employment, assisting with resume-writing, interview skills, etc. Everyone who applies is accepted.
“Each person served by Beyond The Hurt is required to complete a questionnaire,” said Taylor. “The questionnaire [simply] gives us an idea of how we can individualize our services for that person’s specific needs.”
The satisfaction she has experienced in helping others far exceeds the tireless hours spent developing Beyond The Hurt. To help the continued success of her non-profit, Taylor enrolled in a grant writing course at Arizona State University.
In addition to going back to school, Taylor credits two of her DBME colleagues with helping make the organization a success. Project Compliance Auditor Darlene Sumpter and Program Service Eligibility representative Valery Garcia are both volunteers for Beyond The Hurt.
Sumpter herself was a recipient of services provided by Beyond The Hurt. Due to life circumstances, Sumpter went from being grandmother to mother to her seven-year-old granddaughter.
Deva Taylor and colleagues
“When she arrived, she had nothing but the clothes on her back,” said Sumpter. She credits Beyond The Hurt with giving her granddaughter a fresh start.
The challenges experienced by teenagers coming from broken homes is what inspired Garcia to volunteer her time. She says many of the kids she’s in contact with feel “hopeless and all alone.” As a result, she developed the Beyond the Hurt Unity Group.
“This group provides teens with someone they can confide in, and gives them a space where they can discuss difficult issues,” said Garcia.
When asked what advice they would give to those who find themselves in difficult situations, each provided some very unique answers.
“I would tell them to connect with a support group,” said Taylor.
“Do your best to find a group that will provide you with a safe place to share and not judge you,” added Garcia.
Valery added, “Don’t ever give up,” “Use the resources that are available to you.”
Life can sometimes present us with challenges that seem insurmountable. For many, there is that moment of truth where one can either give in or press on. Deva Taylor exemplifies what it means to not only press on, but to go a step further and give others hope. Through her tireless efforts in serving DBME clients and the services provided by Beyond The Hurt, Taylor inspires us all to achieve greatness in serving others.
To find out more about Deva Taylor’s non-profit, visit www.BeyondTheHurt2016.com.
By Vance Phillips Jr.