Making miracles happen: An interview with Dr. Honora Norton

Dr. Honora Norton, center, receives a “Service Above Self” award for community service during the Rotary Club of Scottsdale’s 2016 Service Above Self Awards Program held last May. At left is Max Rumbaugh, 2016 club president, and at right is Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane.

Editor’s note: Following is an article recently published in the weekly bulletin published by St. Mary Magdalene Roman Catholic Church in Gilbert. The interviewed was conducted by Lita Arroyo, director of Parish Evangelization, St. Mary Magdalene Roman Catholic Church. Dr. Honora Norton is a resident of Scottsdale and chair-elect for the Catholic Charities Community Services Executive Board of Directors.

Dr. Honora Norton and her husband, Mike Elert, moved to Arizona in 1998 for job opportunities. After many years in the “rush, rush” of the corporate world and after suffering a serious heart attack, she was forced her to reflect on her life.

Even though she was already a grown woman at the time, she said, “I stopped and finally asked myself, what do I do with the rest of my life?”

Around the same time, she described experiencing an, “Is it odd or is it God?” moment. Dr. Norton would always read the Wall Street Journal, but rarely looked at The Catholic Sun. She happened to pick up a copy one day and saw a job opening at a parish in The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix and served as their parish manager for 10 years.

Her experience participating in Catholic Charities Community Service’s JustFaith program with a group of people from that parish profoundly affected her. Most opportunities for formation at a parish include prayer, videos, books, and discussions, but her group participated in immersion experiences as well.

This is what introduced her to CCCS. One of their immersion experiences involved doing van runs from 5 to 7 p.m. for HomeBase Youth Services.

“Each night we would find close to a hundred kids outside, often sleeping under picnic tables,” she explained. On one van run she visited the Greyhound bus station by the airport and found homeless teens. She remembered one particular young girl with a baby that was living under a highway overpass near the bus station.

After becoming more and more involved as a CCCS volunteer, Dr. Norton was asked to be a part of, and eventual chair of, CCCS’s Advisory Board.

“My role over the last few years has been connecting the unexpected” she said.

The Phoenix Business Journal recently listed CCCS as the 11th largest service/assistance nonprofit of more than 22,000 nonprofits in Arizona. CCCS currently has 22 programs serving the poor and the vulnerable within Maricopa, Yavapai, Coconino and MohaveCounties.

Dr. Norton said, “I know they are working to raise $2.7 million this year for programs to help veterans, children in foster care, the homeless and others, so they need all the help they can to meet this big goal.

“This year, you can give up to $500 (as an individual) or $1,000 (as a married couple) to CCCS toward the Foster Care Charitable Giving tax credit. If you give before December 31st, you’ll receive the money back, dollar-for-dollar, when you file for your 2016 tax return.”

CCCS does licensing, assists with home inspections, helps prepare for the placement of the children, assists with referrals for behavior management, and helps recruit families interested in fostering.

“We try as best we can to get the children back with their family,” Dr. Norton said. Often this means being placed with the child’s grandparents. If that isn’t possible, then they try to help establish a permanent home for the child through adoption.

To learn more about CCCS programs and ways to volunteer, visit catholiccharitiesaz.org/ to schedule a Miracle Tour.

To learn more about tax credits, and take advantage of the Foster Care Charitable Giving tax credit at the same time, visit www.catholiccharitiesaz.org/taxcredit.

Dr. Honora A. Norton’s experience ranges from IT data/call center management, Fortune 500 business consulting and small-business ownership, to faith community stewardship and for profit/nonprofit strategic planning and organizational design. She is the current chair-elect for the Catholic Charities Community Services Executive Board of Directors; a member of Rotary Club of Scottsdale; former chair of Arizona’s Starlight Children’s Foundation Advisory Council; and, is and has served on several other community nonprofit boards.

The Scottsdale Independent is published monthly and mailed to 75,000 homes and businesses in Scottsdale.

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