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June 13, 2017 | Tom Ballard

PART 5: “Paradigm Challenge” start-up Walking with Joy focused on helping people address life events

Knoxville Area Urban League(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fifth article in a series spotlighting the East Knoxville start-ups that are pitching in the upcoming “Paradigm Challenge” competition set for Saturday {June 17} at the Eternal Harvest Life Center East Campus, 2410 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Festivities begin at 10 a.m., and the public is invited.)

The “Paradigm Challenge” is a Launch Tennessee-supported and Knoxville Area Urban League-led (KAUL) effort to bring new business starts into the East Knoxville community. As noted in this previous article about the program, KAUL has been supported in the programming by a number of organizations including the Knoxville Entrepreneur CenterKnoxville Chamber and its Propel programTennessee Small Business Development Center, and Greater Knoxville SCORE chapter.

We asked the Entrepreneurs who will be pitching their ideas to answer a set of questions. Today, we feature Joy Gaertner, a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, motivational speaker, and cancer survivor who has launched Walking with Joy.

  • Tell us about yourself and, if applicable, your other team members . . . names(s), background(s), experience, etc. For more than 45 years, Joy has served in churches and para-church organizations. She is a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist and Founder of Walking with Joy. She has served as Director of Singles and as a mentor and instructor to individuals recovering from substance addictions. Joy’s passion is to help others find healing from life’s hurts. She is a mother of two and grandmother of six. She loves traveling, reading, and photography.
  • Describe the focus of your start-up and the problem you are trying to address. Walking with Joy is a ministry to bring hope and healing to the broken-hearted by equipping them with tools and enabling them to discover freedom and hope. Life can be messy and rarely turns out the way we plan. Everyone has been or will be touched by one of the more than 40 significant emotional losses. Every loss is a death and deserves to be grieved. Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss. Not to compare losses, any list would include death and divorce as obvious painful losses. The list could also include many others: retirement, moving, pet loss, financial and health issues, end of an addiction, etc. We are ill-prepared for grief to process through the difficult emotions that bubble up when something we love ends or changes. There are also costs for grief – death of a loved one ($37.6 billion), divorce ($11.1 billion), family crisis ($9 billion), financial loss ($4.5 billion), major lifestyle alternations ($2.4 billion), pet loss ($2.4 billion), and other areas ($1.2 billion). (NOTE: Source is the Grief Index, 2017 by The Grief Recovery Institute.) Pain that is not transformed, it is transmitted. People with unresolved grief often display anger, violence, depression, anxiety and many other health-related ailments such as cancer, heart attacks, strokes, etc. Grief is the underlying cause of billions of dollars of unnecessary costs to companies, large and small.  The recent story of Sheryl Sandberg’s struggle to function as CEO of Facebook after the death of her husband is only the tip of the iceberg of grief’s impact on millions of Americans in the workforce. Sandberg states that “grief leave” is as important as maternity leave. The billion dollar price tag of the “hidden” costs of grief is due to lost work days caused by emotional distress, reduced ability to concentrate, on-the-job injuries, substance addiction, rehab treatment, stress and obesity. (Grief Index, 2017 by The Grief Recovery Institute). The solution is to “Make Peace with Your Past” using The Grief Recovery Method® seminars and 1-2-1 coaching that provide the correct action choices that help people move beyond the pain caused by loss. It is a program that creates a safe environment in which to look at old beliefs about dealing with loss, to look at what losses have affected your life, and to take new actions which lead to completion of the pain, attached to one of those losses. Time does not heal.  It is the action in the time that brings healing
  • How did the idea to start the company originate? What was the catalyst? The catalyst to begin Walking with Joy came because of Joy’s personal journey through divorce, cancer and the loss of job, finances, and community. She has dedicated herself to helping others discover new tools and be able to navigate through life’s disappointments and hurts. Whether one is looking for substance sobriety or emotional sobriety, there is a path to freedom and peace.
  • What was the impetus for applying to participate in the Paradigm Challenge? In 2016, Joy’s career took another unexpected turn when her position was eliminated. With that door shut, other doors began to open for the fulfilling of her dream to share her experience, strength and hope with others in similar situations. Thus, Walking with Joy has become a reality.
  • What has been the greatest value the programming and mentoring have provided thus far? The Paradigm team of mentors has provided a personalized and in-depth instruction in each area of the business plan components. Volunteers have been easily accessible. Their knowledge, wisdom and genuine encouragement have been vital to the organization and strategy development that is providing stability, growth and sustainability. Walking with Joy considers the privilege to connecting to this rich network a “win”!
  • What do you expect to accomplish by the June 17 Demo Day? First, to have a platform to be demonstrate the importance of grief recovery to individuals, organizations and corporations. Second, to equip and enable individuals with a pathway to “Make Peace with your Past” using The Grief Recovery Method®. Third, to join with sponsors and partners to become part of the solution of healing the brokenness and violence of our families and communities.