Four years ago, Hurricane Harvey’s devastating floodwaters overtook Houston, destroying homes and businesses, leaving thousands of residents homeless and unemployed. To get people back to work during the city’s recovery efforts, Norma Meadows worked with community partners to put a plan into action.
“Our department collaborated with Workforce Solutions and the Texas Employment Commission to provide job assistance to individuals whose jobs were impacted by Hurricane Harvey,” said Meadows, an administrative specialist for the Office of Business Opportunity’s Director's Office.
“Working with the city departments, we were able to identify over 300 potential temporary jobs,” Meadows said of the city’s disaster recovery job replacement, which sought out talent to perform Hurricane Harvey-related functions within city departments.
The disaster recovery job placement was an expansion of Turnaround Houston, a city initiative that gives hard-to-employ Houstonians access to job training, resume writing, social service agencies, educational institutions, and counseling and intervention services through readiness fairs.
Meadows has served as project lead for the initiative for the past four years. The initiative has served more than 600 Houstonians.
“Ms. Meadows’ work performance is exemplary,” said Marsha Murray, director of OBO. “I have worked with her for eight years and she has consistently, without wavering, executed her responsibilities with excellence.”
Most recently, Meadows led the build-out of a virtual version of Turnaround Houston this fall to serve the workforce development needs of Houstonians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I've always had a heart and a desire to do things to help people,” Meadows said.
During her free time, Meadows carries that same spirit of service into the community. Three months into the ongoing pandemic, Meadows distributed food to more than 200 families in Houston’s Sunnyside community.
“Our organization has collaborated and partnered with the Houston Food Bank on several occasions to distribute massive food donations,” said Meadows, acting president for the Alves LaFleur Community Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to providing services to residents of Sunnyside.
“It was a really good effort,” she said.
Meadows’ selfless actions for the community earned her a Bravo award in July.
“You know, it’s rewarding for me,” said Meadows of her volunteerism.
For the past three years, Meadows has volunteered with the LaFleur Foundation, taking on the role of acting president in 2019.
Through this organization, Meadows oversees a workforce center that provides job search and resume writing assistance, a food pantry, and affordable housing services for low-income families.
Along with volunteering her time to LaFleur, Meadows is a member of the supervisory committee for the Houston Metropolitan Federal Credit Union, which provides banking and financial services to Harris County and City of Houston employees.
Each month, Meadows meets with her fellow committee members to review audit functions to ensure HMFCU’s compliance with governing rules and regulations.
“Norma is an outstanding volunteer, mentor, and credit union advocate,” said Malcolm J. René, president and chief executive officer for HMFCU.
Meadows, who believes her volunteerism goes hand in hand with her work for the city, is considered the go-to person for OBO.
“I interact a lot of times with our staff, give them a little guidance if they need information in terms of where to go if they have questions,” Meadows said.
Along with her administrative duties and overseeing Turnaround Houston, Meadows is the project manager for OBO’s Small Business Economic Relief Program, which provides grants to small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.
Murray believes Meadows is answering the call to service in the most honorable way.
“Against the backdrop of expanded responsibilities and demands, she approaches her work with grace and patience,” Murray said.
When she’s not busy overseeing volunteering with LaFleur, HMFCU or overseeing city projects, Meadows serves as a deaconess for the Greater New Testament Baptist Church, where she has been a member for 25 years.
She also participates in the church’s outreach ministry serving the homeless and is a member of the women’s empowerment ministry.
“I love helping people,” Meadows said. “I love doing what I do when I can do it.”