A Servant’s Heart

By: Sarah Byrd in Get to Know Us
on April 23rd, 2018

It is a Saturday afternoon, and the scent of an Apple Pumpkin Yankee Candle wafts through the air as Yolanda is snuggled up in her fuzzy blanket imprinted with the grumpy face of a bulldog that is swathed in red and black. A crockpot of chili warms in the kitchen, while a pan of cornbread cools on the stove. The coffee table has two kinds of cookies laid out on red and black platters: ginger pumpkin and peanut butter.

“Go Dawgs!” Yola yells at the widescreen TV as her husband next to her jumps up and yells with almost as much fervor as her, “Run! Run!”

A tiny nose pops out to investigate from under Yolanda’s blanket—one of her babies, a Chihuahua named Buster. He loves his mama, but the excitement can get to him at times. His sister Bella is snuggled under her own Georgia Bulldog blanket: Yolanda’s new one from last year that she has already claimed.

During the fall, Yolanda’s house brims with the scents of pumpkin spice and fresh baked goods, many of which she will bring up to Georgia for her husband’s family Thanksgiving gathering. Around fifty to sixty family members will be there!

“There are six siblings, and they all have lots of kids,” she explains.

This will be the one time a year where the whole family makes it a priority to gather. Before they eat, they all stand in a big circle and hold hands, say a little prayer, and then they go around and everyone talks about what they are thankful for or just shares what is going on in their lives.

“It’s an opportunity to share with the family.”

Perhaps someone has lost their job, or the kids are experiencing divorce or had a rough year in school. Even Yolanda and her husband Matt’s nieces and nephews tell the group how thankful they are that they get to see Matt-Matt and Yo-Yo, cute nicknames for her and her husband.

“It’s so emotional, by the time they get to me, I’m bawling. But I think it’s beautiful because it’s a time for us to reconnect. It builds the bond of the family.”

“I’ve grown into who I am and who I’m meant to be here.”

The loving kindness and total acceptance of the family speaks so much to Yolanda.

She had to endure so much at a young age. At thirteen years old she was diagnosed with multiple autoimmune diseases and was visiting several university hospitals so they could try to figure out what was going on. During this time, she had to grow up quickly and open herself up to a positive loving space versus a negative/“woe is me” attitude. Because she had to do that for herself, she has an appreciation for the little things.

“When people come from a place of love and gratitude, it means so much to me, and I feel like it’s a privilege to do that for others and to pay it forward.”

This attitude toward life heightened her attitude and compassion for every human being. That is what makes her a perfect fit as director of client relations at RTC.

“Sometimes I’m crying with some of our clients on the phone—if they have gone through so much in their life—to hold space for them and to hear them and love them and take care of them . . . It brings me such joy to be able to do that. People need that. I know I’ve needed it.”

But taking care of others doesn’t stop at clients. There was a time in her life when she took care of other members of her family when they were ailing. Her Babcia, which is Polish for grandmother, was a phenomenal cook. She would make a big ol’ pot of homemade soup and send it off to different family members if any of them were sick. This was how she cared for people, by selflessly being a servant to others in the way she knew how.

“I tried to learn from her before, but she never had any recipes and never measured anything. She would just throw stuff together,” Yolanda laughs.

But when Yolanda got serious about learning to cook for her own health reasons, she could see the fruit of caring for others. She gets emotional seeing how her Babcia’s hands have reached into her own with her continuous choice to serve, and hopes she is making her proud.

For someone whose favorite value is LOVE, this ability reaches to her RTC family—the staff editors, designers, and leadership all the way to Corey himself—since she began working here in 2014.

“They called me ‘The Handler,’” she laughs when remembering her role as Corey’s executive assistant years ago.

Through this role, the two became close. When she did Corey’s purpose exercise, “Love” was one of her purpose words, which is interesting because that spelled out the acronym for all of RTC’s values!

When asked what one core value she would choose, she said it would be “Own It.” If she is working on something, she won’t let the team down because people can rely on her.

“If someone passes me the baton, I’m going to do the best job for the next sprint of the race.”

After a few years of owning it at her position, she was asked to go in sales. Stubborn, she refused. Her idea of what a saleswoman should do was not something she wanted to own!

“If someone passes me the baton, I’m going to do the best job for the next sprint of the race.”

“But,” she pauses. “I realized it wasn’t salesy. It was more about hearing people and their stories and being able to invite people into our family. It connects us with people that we are really meant to work with.”

Once her perspective changed, she knew this was the role in which she was meant to be. In this she has owned it, grown as a person, and found her voice and even a position at the leadership table. Even though there was a time that she felt like she didn’t belong at the leadership table, she has settled in the role nicely.

“I’ve grown into who I am and who I’m meant to be here.”

When asked who she is meant to be, she simply responds, “I feel like I’m meant to be a servant to our clients, a servant to who we are as a company: our family and our culture.”

It is apparent to anyone that knows her servant heart that Yolanda has already made her Babcia proud.

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