Thrivers in Action: Jocelyn Taylor
I am thrilled to feature Jocelyn Taylor, a 2021 mayoral candidate for New York City, as a Thriver in Action. She was born and raised in Brooklyn and she grew up in NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority)--her family was one of the first African American families to move into Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York. Jocelyn's hard working mother grew up in poverty in South Carolina and moved to NYC as a teenager to seek a better life. I am inspired by Jocelyn and I think you will be too after learning more about her contracting company TaylorMade and how COVID-19 has impacted her outlook on life.
Name: Joycelyn Taylor
Title: CEO - TaylorMade Contracting; Chair - NYC MWBE Alliance; 2021 Mayoral Candidate
City & State reside: Brooklyn, NY
Tell me about your business and why you started it/what your mission is.
TaylorMade Contracting is a general contracting firm that was established in 2012 shortly after Hurricane Sandy. The desire to start the firm was born out of a couple of things. One was my experience as it related to finding a good contractor, especially as a woman in a male-dominated industry. I would equate it to a woman trying to find a good mechanic. Two, after a long career in both the public and private sector, was the desire to work hard for myself as opposed to someone else; and three was the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
With my background in construction, it seemed like an ideal time to assist individuals who had been impacted by Hurricane Sandy, ensuring that in their most vulnerable moments, they were not taken advantage of. The goal of the firm is to make our clients experience with a contractor a pleasant one; allowing them to work with a firm they know they can trust. Our motto is "Changing Lives by Creating Amazing Living Spaces."
Tell me about your personal experience with mental health. It can be lately during the COVID pandemic or overall throughout your life.
While I have been blessed to have not experienced any personal mental health issues or anxieties or depressions; there was a time in 1999 which was not pleasant for me. My father passed away unexpectedly from an aneurysm.
One of the things I had always been appreciative of was the fact that I had all of my immediate family members, so to lose him in such a sudden way was very challenging for me. To this day, I can tell you where I was the exact moment I found out he has passed. I remember passing out after my mom told me. I remember not wanting to believe her. It was the first time I had experienced the loss of someone who was so close to me. These are the moments that remind you to tap into your faith and remind you what it is important and who you are at your core.
Any projects or initiatives you are launching to support your mental health and the health of others?
Now, more than ever, it is important that people are mindful of their mental health. The absence of regular day-to-day activities that keep our minds occupied can cause stress and give one’s mind the opportunity to play tricks on them. I have seen several posts on social media from individuals regarding their mental health struggles during this time. Struggling with being still, struggling with being away from their family and struggling to cope with confinement. While we have not launched any specific programs to address mental health issues, through my mayoral campaign, we have provided a ton of resources that are available to those who may need someone to talk to during this critical time. In New York City, we have been fortunate in that many of our mental health providers have stepped up to the plate and are volunteering their time to talk with individuals during this time. I believe the one thing we can all do to support each other during this time is to share information on the resources that are available.
What have you learned about yourself/community/life in general since the lockdown and COVID pandemic?
What I have learned about myself is that on some levels, I needed this. As someone who works long days, I needed the opportunity to be still. As a society, we have become so impressed with working 12- and 14-hour days as a sign of commitment to our employers that we forgot our commitment of time to ourselves. I am learning how to refocus on me. As a community, this pandemic is an affirmation of the fact that regardless of race, religion, sexuality, we care about each other. While going through our day-to-day struggles, we may not show it, but when the rubber hits the road, we ban together and support each other.
Overall, I think that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a curse and a blessing.
It has been a curse because of its destructiveness and the lives it has taken. But it also has been a blessing because it is allowing us to see that all of the things that we have placed value on are not that important. We needed a shift in our priorities because perhaps we were a little lost. We lost our way, we lost our values. This moment is allowing us to find those things again. To reclaim ourselves, our families and our lives. People are having conversations about what they want to do and how they want to be when all of this is over. We can't help but to come out of this different and renewed.