Of the 300-plus people who visit Odessa City Hall each day, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t know or isn’t fond of Lakeisa Taylor.
Taylor, the city’s citizen liaison, is the first person to greet visitors with a warm smile and cheerful voice from her first-floor lobby desk. She patiently answers general questions, directs guests to the appropriate department, and with a few friendly words tries to make all feel welcome.
Billing and Collection Director Agapito Bernal, said Taylor’s job is important because she sets the first impression visitors have of the city.
“I remember when I hired her three years ago,” Bernal said. “I was talking to her about the importance of customer service and she told me, ‘I’m going to raise the bar;’ and she did.
“She’s a natural. She is somebody that loves people, she remembers everybody’s name. She’s a ray of sunshine for the City of Odessa.”
Her people skills have earned Taylor several customer service awards from the city.
Taylor admits the role comes easy to her. She’s always been an extrovert, and growing up her parents, Marvin Taylor and Jerry Moore, impressed upon her to treat everyone with love and respect.
“You never know what’s going on in people’s lives,” Taylor said. “So, it’s important to greet them with a warm smile and respect.
“I think everybody wants and should be treated that way.”
When she’s not greeting visitors, Taylor works behind the scenes readying resident permit requests.
Born in Lubbock, but raised in Odessa, Taylor graduated from Permian High School in 1993.
The mother of two grown sons, Taylor has spent most of her life working multiple jobs to help make ends meet.
After finishing her 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift at the city, Taylor heads to a second, part-time job each day where she takes elderly residents shopping and on errands.
She’s worked several different jobs prior to being hired by the city, including at fast-food restaurants and five years as a food service worker at an elementary school on the south side of Odessa.
Providing for her family and helping people is her priority; not getting rich, she says.
“Money ain’t never made or broke me,” Taylor said.
Taylor also supplements her income by braiding hair and has built up quite a clientele list through word-of-mouth.
“When I was younger, she used to braid my hair – when I still had hair,” said Chris Walker, president of Odessa’s Black Chamber of Commerce. “I’ve known Lakeisa and her family for many years.
“I knew when the city hired her, she would do a great job. She has a natural, bubbly personality. But she’s also very level-headed. She’s the rock that has held her family together.”
Walker’s referring to the personal trials and tribulations Taylor has faced during the past year.
In early 2020, Taylor’s sister died of diabetic complications. COVID-19 claimed her mother’s life on Sept. 22, 2020. Her father, who has also contracted COVID, is currently clinging to life.
“My dad is in the hospital and I don’t want him to die, especially in September, just one year after my mother,” Taylor says during a brief moment of somberness.
“I just have to trust God,” Taylor said. “I pray a lot. I think I even pray when I pray. But God and my family keeps me strong.”