Culture is a concept based on the words “cultura animi” which means “cultivation of the soul.” Culture is used to mean the betterment or refinement of individuals through education and it is central to the way we view, experience and engage with all aspects of our lives and the world around us. Culture is something you take with you. You carry it proudly. You educate those around you who wish to partake of your culture.

Darlene Cook, new Franchise owner of 2 Liberty Tax® stores in Johnson City, TN has carried her culture with her from Georgia. I was first exposed to Liberty Culture in its full glory this past November when I attended Darlene’s tax classes. I had taken tax classes before under a previous owner who sadly did not embrace and share Liberty’s culture. I, along with my Johnson City team mates want everyone to know that Darlene has not only employed people…she has already started changing lives here in Johnson City. Gandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” and that is what Darlene is doing every day. She pulls in people who maybe haven’t had the best opportunities in the world and gives them a chance to become something better than they can even envision for themselves. She truly cultivate souls. When she hires you, she makes you family. Your concerns become her concerns. 

I personally have seen some of my team mates start class beaten down by the world who now are avid happy marketers, tax professionals and Liberty wavers who project the same can-do attitude they received from Darlene. She cultivated our souls and she is causing happiness and pride where there was none. When you show your happiness, people WILL want to know where it comes from. Darlene is quick to tell anyone that she doesn’t dread going to work…ever. She believes in the vision and integrity of Liberty Tax®….and she preaches it and she walks the walk.

My personal story is that I am disabled and only allowed to work a limited number of hours a week. I looked for nearly two years to find someone willing to work with me. I am a person who gives 110% to what I am doing, but no one wanted to hire someone with limited hours. Liberty has welcomed me with open arms. Being able to work and be productive again has allowed healing in my mind and soul to begin which cannot but help my body heal as well. I never dread going into work. I love that my outlook on life is changing and that Darlene (and the Liberty Tax® Culture) encourages me to take my new found happiness and share it with every person I meet. 

The clincher for me…what sells me on Liberty Culture…is not only do I see the fans of Liberty Tax® that Darlene cultivates here in Tennessee, I hear from the people she "cultured" in Georgia. I had the distinct pleasure to speak to Demond Walker whom Darlene hired as a Waver when he was homeless. Darlene helped this man find a home and secure employment beyond Liberty. Selfless acts of kindness which changed this man’s life do not go unnoticed and during a phone conversation, Demond told me that he loved Darlene like she was his mother and that no one had ever done so much for him and ask nothing but loyalty in return. Darlene’s actions made someone who could have a very cold view of life tell me that “Oh, I have seen Darlene get upset and even cry before, but I told her that these walls and these files will still be here tomorrow, so you get out of here and do what Darlene do! Cos that is what Darlene taught me about me.”

I have only seen her picture, but Mrs. Dot from Georgia sings Darlene’s praises because all Dot wanted to do 5 years ago was to be a Lady Liberty waver. Mrs. Dot was in her 70s and we all know waving is not an easy job, as tax season weather can be really unkind. Darlene gave into what Dot WANTED to do….and she is still waving for Liberty 5 years later…and it makes her happy.

Sherry Lands from Georgia had this to say: “Darlene Cook is a lady to be admired. Not only did she contribute in training me to be a top notch Liberty Team member, but also pulled me out of personal bondages through her kindness and love. When counting my blessings, she is one of the first!”

I had the pleasure of meeting Samantha Richards from Georgia in person and she agrees as well that if Liberty is looking for someone who exemplifies the culture of what it stands for then Darlene is that person. She says, “I have seen the sacrifice, sweat and tears that have been poured out over the last few years and she most definitely Sets the Standard, improves every day, and certainly has fun doing it! Darlene is true to her word and has personally been my mentor, motivator and friend! She is also a motivator who can see the greatest qualities in a person before they can and she has a way of making you find those qualities and realizing that anything you can dream, can become a reality no matter the circumstance.”

Working for Liberty is a lifestyle, not a job. That is what we have learned from Darlene Cook. She has created raving fans in two states so far with her charismatic personality. The impact we are going to make in Johnson City is going to be phenomenal because we have Darlene leading the way and teaching us the Liberty culture which just makes us better people.

Mr. Hewitt, you need more leaders like Darlene. You need people who instill so much loyalty and trust in team mates that they would leave their home, follow you to another state where you know no one and help you start the dream of new franchises….that’s how much Tammy Rogers believes in Darlene. Oh, and pack your bags, Mr. Hewitt, because when we blow it out of the water in Johnson City this year we are going to be happy to host your visit.