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For the People

Philadelphia Daughter finds fulfillment in serving others

In 2013, Taryn Edmonds made a big career change. After working for more than 12 years as a psychotherapist and behavioral health specialist with disadvantaged Philadelphia families, she completely switched gears and became a paralegal.

“As a psychotherapist, I was constantly aware that people weren’t getting the services they needed,” said the regent of the Philadelphia DAR Chapter, Philadelphia, Pa. “I saw an opportunity to be even more helpful as a legal professional.”

From the beginning, Mrs. Edmonds appreciated many things about her new job—the pay was great, and the variety of tasks kept her mind sharp—but there was one thing missing: “Paralegals are very isolated from the people they’re helping,” she said, “and I really missed that face-to-face, direct service to clients.”

Fortunately for Mrs. Edmonds, her law firm prioritized pro bono legal work. A few months after starting her new job, Mrs. Edmonds found a place to serve at Philadelphia VIP, a nonprofit that matches community members with needed legal services. Each month, Mrs. Edmonds volunteers her time, expertise and legal services to help clients who are facing foreclosure navigate the complex legal process.

The tasks she performs vary from week to week and month to month, but they include conducting intake interviews at city hall, drafting legal documents or serving as a notary. She tries to handle each interaction with compassion and understanding.

“I know it takes a lot for someone to ask for help, so I’m always tapping back into my therapeutic tools,” she said. “My first job is to make them feel comfortable. Then I try to educate and empower them. Even if they don’t get to keep their home, I want to give them the knowledge that they have options and the confidence that they’re going to get over this hump.”

Giving back has been a lifelong mission for Mrs. Edmonds. “I was always finding ways to volunteer,” she said. “It’s very rewarding to help others and make a difference in someone’s life. It’s also very easy. It often doesn’t take a lot to help someone else, so why not?”

That spirit of service is one of the things that drew her to DAR in 2013. Growing up, she was aware of her ancestry and family ties to the American Revolution. Her uncle was in the Sons of the American Revolution, and she had an aunt in the DAR. “I finally got to a point in my life when I realized I should do this, too,” she said.

The application process took almost two years to complete, but Mrs. Edmonds became a member in July 2015. She became involved immediately, serving as chapter regent and as a page at various events.

She also volunteers her genealogy services to anyone who needs them.“I’ll ask strangers on the street if they know details about their family tree,” she said. “If they don’t, I encourage them to get started. There’s a generation that’s losing touch with their grandparents. If we don’t interview them now, we’re going to be missing huge chunks of our family stories.”

She was disappointed to miss the opportunity to page at Continental Congress this year, but had a good reason: She and her husband, Kevin Kennedy, are expecting their first baby together. Mrs. Edmonds is also mom to Robert and Gabriela and stepmom to Kandyce. The family enjoys exploring the outdoors, traveling to historic sites and museums, and stopping at antique and rummage sales.

“People always ask me where I get my energy from and I tell them, ‘This is what life is supposed to be like.’”