November 11, 2022 —Throughout her lifetime, serving others has been a driving force for Dr. Norma J. Taylor. Finding new opportunities to evolve is one of the ways she still leads by example at Collington. This past August, Norma demonstrated how standing out for your age group can still lead to an award-winning moment.
In the early 1960s, she began her undergraduate degree at the University of Cincinnati and majored in Zoology. Norma also became interested in the Peace Corps after hearing about the experience of a woman who was director of the University YWCA. When President John F. Kennedy famously said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” Norma was inspired, and left college to join the Peace Corps herself.
Stationed in Morocco, Norma served as a hospital lab tech during her two years in the Peace Corps. It was a dangerous time in the world, and Norma was there during the six day war between Israel and the Arab nations known as the Arab Spring. That experience, and a growing interest in the social side of serving others, led her to consider pursuing a degree in Social Work after she returned and completed her undergraduate degree.
A job and a field study in New York were the first of a few practical applications of her Masters in Social Work earned at Smith College. When her employer’s company ran out of money, Norma moved down to Knoxville to work at the University of Tennessee. It was there that she became interested in pursuing a PhD in Social Policy at Brandeis.
Post-graduation, Norma was hired to work at the National Association of Social Work in DC, and moved to Maryland. During these years, she became interested in spiritual pursuits. The week before 9/11, Norma entered seminary and after two years of study, she became Reverend Dr. Norma J. Taylor. As a spiritual counselor for the Unity Church of DC, she also continued her career. In her final years, she worked as a training coordinator for social workers at the Child and Family Services of DC.
Deciding to downsize from her family home, Norma chose Collington after falling in love with the open campus on a visit. She chose a cottage and loved the feeling of community in her cluster. She was amazed to discover that for the first time in her life, she truly knew her neighbors. After 9 ½ years, she recently moved to an apartment.
As a Reiki Master, Norma was asked to provide Reiki to residents at Collington’s Creighton Center during her weekly volunteer visits. Reiki is an ancient Japanese Healing Treatment.
Norma also joined the fitness subcommittee; its mission is to encourage residents to be active in a variety of sports like badminton, ping pong, croquet, and swimming. An active pickleball enthusiast, Norma introduced other residents to the sport. The group even convinced Collington to makeover the old tennis courts into pickleball courts.
After playing for 11 years, often as many as five days a week, Norma and her partner won the gold at the Senior Olympics held this past August. As a medal winner for the 75-79 age bracket, she leads by example that life holds many opportunities to continue evolving.
When asked her advice for others thinking of making the move to a senior living community, Norma recommends people really think about what they want the next step of their lives to be. She suggests they try to imagine how they want it to unfold. She explains, “Collington can be whatever you desire it to be. It’s not just what you receive, but what you give that makes it all worthwhile.”