Eastern Wake native LaTonya Taylor says her parents showed her the way of providing a giving heart.
Q: With your partner, Lateeta Jones, you operate Jones Outreach Services on Arendell Avenue. What services exactly do your provide? How did this partnership form?
A: We worked at another mental health agency together in Hillsborough but the owner dissolved that business. We saw a need here in our home community so we wanted to provide similar services here for the people of Zebulon and eastern Wake, where we are both from. We assist those who have been diagnosed as suffering from a mental illness, or from substance abuse. Many times, they go hand-in-hand. We are funded through Medicaid and through private insurance. We have a doctor, a psychiatrist and trained therapists on our staff. We are also community based, so we can go to your home because a lot of people just feel more comfortable there. We also wanted to give back to our communities in other ways. We also see to the needs of the underserved. For instance, sometimes, people lose their job or they are going through a tough time and they just need a hand. We can relate to that because we have both been without a job. We have a small food pantry and clothes. If we don’t have what they need, we can often point them in the right direction, such as the services that are provided at Zebulon Methodist, Zebulon First Baptist, or Mt. Zion Holiness. We have a back-to-school drive and collect school supplies for kids who need them. We also help provide meals and other necessities at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Q: Are you or your partner therapists?
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A: No, we leave that to the professionals. We do not have a license, although my partner is working on obtaining her certification in substance abuse counseling.
Q: You say you are a native – did you graduate from East Wake High?
A: I did – my mom, Teresa Taylor, was a supervisor at Champion in Wendell and my dad, John, retired from Hagemeyer in Raleigh. I would have to say they had the biggest influence in my life. My mom was always nurturing – she would literally give you the shirt off her back. She has a giving heart. My dad is the kind of person who can show you the way, who can show you how to lay the foundation to what you want to accomplish.
Q: So has the mental health field always interested you?
A: After high school, I went right into the work force and then I had my daughter, so I put college on hold but that is OK. I knew I wanted to work in a hospital, the medical field– that has always interested me but this is where I was pointed and this is where I stayed. I believe God had other intentions for me.
Q: You say you have a daughter – what are her interests? Is she following in mom’s footsteps? Do you have any more children?
A: It is just me and my daughter. She is a sophomore and she is interested in becoming a psychologist. She shadows the psychologist we have here, Dr. Ethan Levine, and she admires him. She also has a lot of people at school always asking her for advice.
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A: I pull up and listen to different sermons. I have a diverse taste and I just enjoy listening to the word. I like to take long walks and spending time with my family.
Q: If you had a wish list for future accomplishments, what would be on your list?
A: There is a huge need here for some type of shelter for people to go when they need to get away from threatening or bad situations. Also, sometimes people just don’t have anywhere to go. I would also love to see more people become sympathetic to those in need. Mental illness is not just a disorder – it is a disease where people need medical care. Maybe one day, I will work in a hospital – who knows. Whatever it is, it will involve helping people. I just have always liked giving back.
Correspondent Dena Coward