Wednesday 2 December, 2020

Your Hero: Youth mentor Paul Norman making a difference in St Ann

Paul Norman (left) takes a selfie moment with several of his mentees, including Laquaine Piper (second right).

Paul Norman (left) takes a selfie moment with several of his mentees, including Laquaine Piper (second right).

Service before self is ingrained in the soul of Paul Norman, sales and marketing manager at Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios, St Ann, who views his life as a vessel of service to his community, parish, church and the nation.

From helping young persons to properly craft application letters and resumes to being a motivational force to others by providing them with advice on making effective life decisions, the 56-year-old resident of Seville Heights in St Ann has been viewed by others as a ‘Good Samaritan’ and ultimately, an unheralded hero of the parish.

But for Norman, a devoted Christian, he's merely fulfilling his duty to God.

“Stuff like this (being heroic) is hard for me to say, because I don’t really like to speak well of myself, so I wouldn’t say heroic, but (rather) I go over and beyond to ensure that other persons excel and do well and if persons are going through any situations, I stick with them until they are out of it,” Norman explained, adding, “If there are persons who don’t even realise they had great potential, I help them to realise that potential.”

Paul Norman offered motivating words to final year students at a prom held at HEART College in Runaway Bay last year.

That is why Norman -  who describes himself as focused, people oriented, determined, thoughtful and a go-getter -  spends much of his time helping young people with their School Based Assessments (SBAs) or rewriting their application letters and resumes. The latter, he said, should be taught in school more effectively as it is very crucial.

“They (young people) have potential and if you allow them to send off an application letter the way they have it, they will never get the job. So having a resume and application letter that properly represents them and their potential creates a better opportunity for them to rise in life,” he explained during an interview with Loop News.

While outlining the various strategies he has used in aiding several persons in the parish to gain employment opportunities, Norman pointed out that he recommends an individual based on their attitude and aptitude.

“On Facebook, once persons post about any job vacancies, I send them to persons I know that aren’t working or persons who want to change their careers. Sometimes, I also consult with individuals to know what openings they know of and sometimes, too, employers contact me, because they think the persons I tend to guide are worth employing,” Norman disclosed.

Norman with his mentee Travoe Brown

Norman's mentorship goes beyond finding employment opportunities for persons as he also guides them in their career journey by, among other measures, encouraging mentees to work harder to achieve promotions.

Norman has also utilised social media to assist persons in need of financial support to further their education. In citing one example of an 18-year-old he aided, Norman stated that Facebook was the tool he used to gain much welcomed assistance for the young man and his mother, who had reached out to him.

“I contact individuals, for example, I met a lady and we started to interact and she told me of her son that was 18-year-old and he wanted to become a chef, so I made a post on Facebook and persons gave me money for her (the mother) to pay the fees. She told me he needed uniform for school and I made another post on Facebook and persons again assisted,” he shared.

Young persons who Norman have assisted in the past also contribute to his sustained efforts of giving back.

Norman participating at Tourism Week 2019 activities held at Runaway Bay Primary School. 

“Someone who looked up to me from he was young called me one day and said he had $10,000, and he said to me he knows I always know persons in need ... and it happened that someone was in college struggling and reached out to me, and I said to the person, ‘Give me your bank account. I have some money can send to you'.”

Several persons, in interviews with Loop News, referred to Norman as a motivational force in their lives. Among them is the current principal of Magotty High School in St Elizabeth, Sean Graham, who coincidentally is Norman’s godson.

Laquaine Piper, who is employed as a call centre specialist, lauded Norman for the strong impact he has had on his personal development.

“I believe all young people need mentors as they assist with the process of self-discovery. Paul Norman has been a strong contributing factor to my personal development as he consistently shares words of wisdom and inspiration which allows me to stay focused and ensures that I continue to strive for success,” Piper said.

Several awards received by Paul Norman for his school and community service activities.

Accounting Clerk, Nishelle Smith, who has known Norman for over 10 years, depicted him as “a man who stands for excellence.”

“I believe because of his natural charisma, people are inspired by him. He has been a mentor for many including myself and I am delighted to have him as a part of the family of God,” she explained.

General Manager of Dolphin Cove Puerto Seco, Travoe Brown heaped praises on Norman for not only being a great mentor, but for his three decades of contributing to the island’s hospitality industry.

“Paul Norman has epitomised the true sense of being a great mentor. He continues to give back and aid in the development of our young minds as he shares willingly his years of experience and his sound words of encouragement which have guided many young persons to a path of prosperity,” Brown disclosed.

Norman receives a gift after being guest speaker at the St Ann’s Bay Infant School graduation for 2019. 

He added: “Within the hospitality industry, Paul Andrew Norman is seen as a veteran who has given more than three decades of service and offers an experience of a lifetime to individuals who decide on experiencing our beautiful island. The way in which he sells this island is second to none! His involvement in community building initiatives has helped to sustain minds and develop leaders for the future. The life he lives is also a testimony of his words.”

Norman’s kindness has extended to his church, Calvary Tabernacle, United Pentecostal Church (UPC) in St Ann’s Bay, St Ann where he serves as Sunday school director and oversees the Calvary Tabernacle children’s choir. In addition, he is also a preacher of the gospel and has been invited on many occasions to speak at churches outside of the Pentecostal arena. He has participated extensively in motivational talks at schools, churches and other events.

Norman asserted that he supports his church’s outreach efforts through their Missions department by donating cash. The team has fed streets persons living in St Ann’s Bay as one of their many outreach activities.

His humanitarian efforts have stretched to being a member of the Steer Town Primary School’s guidance committee and participation in several activities, including Read Across Jamaica Day, conducting devotional exercises and helping to plan fundraisers at various schools in St Ann.

Nishelle Smith offers a bright smile with her mentor.

And the recognition of Paul Norman’s positive impact will not end for years to come. One of his many mentees, Kevel Daley, a Geography Information Systems/Scientific Geological consultant at the University of the West Indies (UWI), saluted Norman for not only being “a man of God, who takes care of his family, friends, community”, but as “a great model citizen and friend.”

“I Kevel Daley have known Paul Norman for almost eight years. He has been a mentor to me and has been involved in every aspect of my life. He is encouraging, honest, a great father figure and one of the best persons to talk to… Mr Norman has aided in giving me vision since we met and he taught me, for example, how to make my first email address.  He has been actively guiding me to become a better person and he ensures that I stay on track,” Daley said.

Erwin Ramon Elliott, business operator of Elliott's Electronics Repair, described Norman as “an experienced and trusted adviser.”

“Over the several decades of our acquaintance, Norman has uplifted and instilled moral values into fellow youths of the community. His own career path, as well as provided guidance, motivation, emotional support has been a great stepping stone and mold of a modeled citizen,” he said.

Norman (left) and his wife Sheila share a photo with another of Norman’s mentees, Kevel Daley.

Like many others, Elliot, too, commended Norman for his ability to listen, advise and create positive impacts.

“If ever there is a need to talk someone abouta pressing situation, he is there for me… If I’m about make life altering decision in life, I sit back and ask myself what Paul would think. In short, I'm blessed to have him in my life. Thank you Mr Norman for the impact you have had on me.”

But is it exhausting being a good samaritan? Norman, an executive of one of St Ann's premier attractions, doesn't see it as being exhausting as service to others is a character trait passed onto him by his humanitarian parents, Robert and Ann Norman. They were pastors of the Wesleyan Holiness Church in Knoxwood District, St Elizabeth.

His mother, for example, would provide needy children with shoes and uniforms if they did not have any.  It is therefore not a surprise that Norman’s love for service, the community and his skill for planning and organizing events ultimately came from his parents.

Meanwhile, Norman agreed that it is very important for persons to give back to others, but noted that it was often individuals who were not well off that assist willingly.

“The society requires people who will help others, but I find that the persons who go over and beyond to help others are not usually those who are financially well off, but they have a desire to help. And I have observed that alot, because even some persons who I see go over and beyond to help their neighbours are not people who are well off or even seen by society and they give without cameras being present,” he argued.

Norman continued: “And usually when I approach persons for assistance for others, it's normally not the wealthy who respond; it's those citizens who are just average citizens. The wealthy will make a promise, but it is never fulfilled.”

Norman, who is driven by one of his favourite bible scriptures, I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me,’  balances his lifetime of giving with being a devoted husband and father. He and his wife, Sheila, have been married for 32 years and their union has produced two children, Sheena and St Paul.

In the meantime, Norman continues to encourage individuals, especially the youth in the society, to make solid decisions that will benefit their lives. Owning a home at a young age is one vital piece of advice he will always pass on to others.

“I owned my own home at the young age of 25. I purchased it through the NHT and because of that it has helped me to encourage young persons to become home owners, because every time I tell them I did it, so you can, and I always remind them that NHT is for us, Jamaicans,” the St Ann stalwart advised.

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