Empathy Driven Connections

Written by Vivayic
Former US President Barack Obama once stated “Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world.”
Arguably, this notion seems relatively young in the US business space but is gaining momentum. Empathy is a game-changing factor as businesses and organizations are: engaging differently with consumers, employees are seeking greater purpose and connection to their work and their employers, communities are improving the resources and opportunities for their people, and our society is redefining standard operations as it pertains to processes, efficiencies, outputs, and collateral efforts.
At our core, empathy has been a driving force for connection and service at Vivayic for nearly a decade.

It has defined our relationships, fostered our curiosity, brought us more deeply connected to others, guided our business practices, enabled our team to better serve their communities, and has richly contributed to the friendships, organizations, communities, non-profits, governments, and businesses that we have partnered with over the last decade.

During our Vivayic team meeting, we invited our friends Tara and Beverly to join the conversation and share their passions with our team in an effort to more deeply connect with the struggles, celebrations, concerns, and emotions they experience in their life work. Ms. Tara Gardner is the coordinator for the Clay County Community Health Partnerships in Georgia, and Ms. Beverly Tyler is the Executive Director of Georgia Health Decisions. Together, they have invested so much of their beings into the needs of rural communities across the state of Georgia. In one, understated explanation, their work can be interpreted as connecting resources and funding to the needs of underserved communities, while enriching the lives of the families and individuals in these areas.

Georgia Health Decisions is a client and we’ve worked with Beverly for more than a decade. Beverly and her team are proving technical assistance to Tara’s community and ten others in rural Georgia that received grants as part of the Two Georgias Initiative. We are assisting with the design of a curriculum to help grantees plan for sustainability after the grant ends. The conversation with Beverly and Tara gave us insight into the people who are central to our people-centered design process. Those insights emerge through intentional empathy.

Among countless other efforts in education, healthcare, social enrichment, and business/industry, Clay County was recently awarded a Healthcare Georgia Foundation grant. This grant has helped fund important projects to improve community health including the launch of a new clinic in an old hospital partnering with Mercer University faculty and students to serve the Clay County community. The reality of rural communities is that although it’s nice to have access to funding for great programs that support healthcare and education options like this, the problem still lies in the fact that people “do not have the money to pay to walk in the doors,” as Tara explains, meaning they do not have the time off work, reliable transportation, child care, or other essential needs to utilize newly offered programs and services. This realization prompted the community to address underlying needs and not just patching the “surface level” needs.

By empathetically, generously, and purposefully unearthing layers of need and layers of truth, authentic solutions are able to surface. And when carefully partnered with the right tools (grants, partners, companies, people, etc.), evolution and innovation are able to cause high impact in the areas of need. As Tara Gardner notes, for the Clay County community,

“The challenge is people’s fear of change and people’s fear of getting out of the way so that things could change.”

Addressing needs takes shrewd and thoughtful efforts to understand the multi-dimensional needs of a situation and then provide solutions, in a timely cadence to not only educate but empower, comfort, and support people along their journey of change.

The critical element of influence, especially as it pertains to empathetically understanding and relating to others, is an open, transparent, and trusting interaction. As displayed by the relationship between Tara and Beverly, Beverly has a keen ability to relate, understand, and support Tara and the community she serves. As a community leader, it can be easy – almost most instinctive – to approach outside help as an alienating option that pushes alternate agendas with no real understanding of the viable solutions and tools necessary to cause positive change. Unlike that common perception, Tara has grounded herself in not only living and understanding the needs but potentially more important than that, she clearly and passionately shares an understanding with others in an effort to inform, empower and guide partners on their journey of empathy and journey of support, all with the best interest of the community members at the center.

Tara and Beverly are guideposts that we aspire to follow as we become more empathetic as individuals, as a company, and as partners for clients addressing the needs within their own sphere of influence. We invite you to learn more about the work that Tara and Beverly are involved in. We will leave you with these last few remarks, as shared by our Vivayic team on inspirations felt after empathetically connecting with Tara and Beverly:

Number 1

Tenacity is what keeps our communities surviving and keeps leaders motivated day in and day out.

Number 2

First-hand knowledge, the lived-experience, and the ability to distinguish the challenges people are resistant to, while maintaining an attitude of empowerment is impressive.

Number 3

Recognizing the beauty in our country in stark contrast to the very difficult struggles that our citizens experience will pull your heartstrings.

Number 4

Healthy and transparent conversations and the importance that brings to understanding tender agendas, communication preferences, passion and underlying interests.

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