By Keith Eaton
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
– Robert Frost
There is a sense of timing, Providence perhaps; when truth revealed becomes determinative in the choices a person makes … choices that make all the difference. And so it was that in early adulthood, Amanda Taylor’s father made her aware of his difficult, traumatic childhood. He was bandied about among foster homes until landing in one where he was maltreated to the point of isolation, thirst, hunger and solitary confinement in a bathroom. Yet, adulthood found him not just surviving but thriving, thanks to a singular act of kindness by the family that adopted him and gave to him the home, love and care that “made all the difference.”
“My father’s experience and his reaction to it came to me not in childhood, but young adulthood, when I was deciding the course my life would take. His example is a constant reminder of the power of one person’s intervention in another’s life or in society at large. That truth remains both a challenge and a guide to my actions,” Amanda confesses.
So it was that this midwestern lady found her way from Bloomfield, Indiana to the University of Florida. As with many young people, her initial career thoughts – she was attracted to microbiology – proved not to be her life’s work.
“My freshman chemistry class was dropped in short order,” Taylor laughingly relates.
Fortunately, Amanda was an active participant in the university’s debate club programs, where she quickly discovered her real talents to be research, writing, public speaking and people-to-people interaction. Reflecting on these early experiences resulted in a change of university major to broadcast journalism and a career path that has been both fulfilling and successful.
After graduation, Amanda began her career in television news reporting and journalism with station WUFT in Gainesville, Florida, and then to Wichita Falls, Texas with the management and staff of KAUZ.
“My first two work experiences permitted me, then a neophyte reporter and news anchor, to make my mistakes in relatively small markets where a career is not likely to be damaged beyond repair by rookie mistakes,” Amanda notes.
Next stop, KENS in San Antonio followed by her present home, Oklahoma’s KWTV News 9 evening news anchor and consumer affairs reporter. The diverse cultural experiences gained from her work in Florida, Texas and Oklahoma have broadened Taylor’s view of the people and events she is reporting to and about.
“Indianans are salt of the earth people, and I benefited from observing and experiencing their simple acts of kindness, loyalty to their own, and real caring attitudes. Each place I’ve worked has influenced me personally and professionally; the people have helped me grow as a person as well as a journalist and reporter, ” said Taylor.
Taylor has been in the role she enjoys at News 9 for eight years, with each year bringing increasing responsibility and opportunity for investigating issues of consumer fraud and safety. When asked to describe the stories that matter the most to her and keep her motivated in her role, there is no hesitation in her response.
“I keep a photograph in my office of me on the witness stand in a trial for a con artist who was cheating innocent people out of large sums by pretending to be an advocate for them against utility companies and supposed overcharging of customers. Working with the FBI and others, I set up a sting operation and caught the guy in the very act of fraudulent activity. He’s currently serving time in a federal facility. That success reminds me that what I do is important to ordinary people,” Amanda confirms.
A normal day in Taylor’s life brings cards, notes, emails, Tweets and a call or two from concerned and thankful citizens, everyday Oklahomans, appreciative of the work she performs to inform and protect all of us from those who would seek to harm us through a variety of schemes.
A multi-faceted and seeming tireless advocate for people of all ages and circumstances, Taylor is a champion for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, and in particular the Food for Kids initiatives. These include the backpack program that provides a weekend supply of nutritious food and snacks to deserving youngsters each Friday during the school year, Kids Café for at-risk kids during the summer break, summer feeding that attends the nutritional needs of kids ages 1-18, and the School Pantry that provides food for middle school and high school children for weekend consumption.
People working at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and News 9 know Amanda’s fundraising efforts have yielded extraordinary results and directly benefited hundreds of kids in need. Rodney Bivens, Executive Director of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, witnesses to the results of Amanda’s efforts.
“Amanda Taylor is a beacon of hope to the one in four children in Oklahoma who struggles with hunger every day,” said Bivens. “Not only has Amanda raised awareness about the issue of childhood hunger as a News 9 anchor, she has also donated countless volunteer hours to the cause. Her connection to the issue through her own father’s struggles with hunger as a child has given her a unique perspective and heightened compassion. Since 2010, News 9 and Amanda have raised more than $500,000 for the Regional Food Bank’s Food for Kids programs.”
Anyone wishing to partner with Amanda in her support and advocacy of the Food Bank can get complete information about the organization, including how to become a volunteer worker, a donor, an advocate and much more at their website at http://www.regionalfoodbank.org.
But Amanda has other important roles as an exceptional cook, a wife and mother. Our readers are invited to view her recipes (including the “Best Salmon Ever”) and read her informative and humorous Amada’s Baby Page, accessible from the News 9 website – www.news9.com.
“My family’s life, like that of other young professionals, was both blessed and made complex when our baby came into our lives. My hubby and I had to adjust our lifestyles for our little boy. That included sharing household duties, learning to let go of non-essentials (our living room can look in complete disarray, but the chalk figures drawn or scribbled on the driveway are much more important to the three of us); and making quality time more important than quantity” says Amanda.
Looking to the future, Amanda remains overwhelmed with her reception and acceptance by her News 9 colleagues and the watching public, and is truly amazed by how quickly the last eight years have passed.
“I love Oklahomans, my management and peers at the station, and can’t imagine doing anything else. This state has the friendliest and most supportive people I have encountered in my travels. I distinctly remember the line of people that was several blocks long bringing donations of needed items to our station’s collection facility in the days following the Moore tornado disaster. It was an impression I won’t forget any time soon,” states Amanda.
So although a transplanted Hoosier, Oklahomans consider Amanda to be one of their own. Adoption can be wonderful thing … in this case, a Distinctly Oklahoma thing.