Occupation: Social work, community development coordinator for Harmony Adoptions.
Family: Married to Lorna Norwood for 23 years.
Jim Norwood met the girl who would become his wife Lorna while he was a student assistant in the College of Business. “Lorna’s sister was my supervisor, and her sister asked if I would take Lorna on date. I did, and the rest is history,” he said.
Norwood says his wife shares his passion for helping foster children. “She’s been super supportive of the children who have come into our lives,” he says. “It has been a wonderful experience. A lot of those kids we met when they were 4 or 5, and they are now in their 20s. We still keep in touch.”
Norwood grew up in Seymour and has lived there all his life. He attended Middle Tennessee State University for a year, transferred to the University of Tennessee and graduated with a Liberal Arts degree in sociology.
After school, Norwood said he never really knew what he wanted to do for a living. “But I always found myself drawn to people who needed help. I think it came from growing up watching my mom. She was very involved in non-profit organizations.”
Norwood’s earliest contact with orphans was during the holidays. “Mom used to go to a group home where you could ‘adopt’ a child at Christmas and take them presents. I was exposed to that at young age,” Norwood says. “Watching her and my father and the way they cared for people sort of moved me. As I got older, that’s what I gravitated towards.”
Norwood says he worked with the Department of Children’s Services for a year before he moved on to Helen Ross McNabb Regional Mental Health Center where he worked for 17 years in foster care adoptions.
“Then I took about a year off and started working on my second phase work career, and I’ve been with Harmony ever since,” he says.
Harmony is a private, not-for-profit child placement agency. The agency started in 1996 and has grown to an agency with a staff of 40, says Norwood.
Here is Jim Norwood:
Who are you most like, your mother or your father and why?
“My Mom. She’s more outgoing and a people person.”
What is your favorite quote from television or a movie?
“No man is a failure who has friends,” from Clarence, the angel, in the movie “Its a Wonderful Life.”
What are you guilty of?
“Taking for granted all that I have been given.”
What is your favorite material possession?
“My Cervelo bicycle. I enjoy riding and the Adoption Ambassador’s Tour across the state was born from my love of cycling. Michael Yates and I were riding six years ago and talking about what we enjoy doing, and the adoption tour idea has grown from there.”
What are you reading currently?
“Andre Agassi’s ‘Open.’ I’ve always liked him as a competitor and am enjoying learning of his struggles and how he overcame them.”
What was your most embarrassing moment?
“Walking into the women’s restroom on the first day of class my freshman year at MTSU. I’ll never forget that, and, yes, there were actually girls in there.”
What are the top three things on your bucket list?
“Skydive, hike the Tennessee portion of the Appalachian Trail and ride my bicycle across the U.S. to the Pacific Ocean.”
What is one word others often use to describe you and why?
“Agitator, because I love to devil people.”
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
“I’d have more patience. I’m very impatient . I find it difficult to wait in lines or traffic. I see traffic stopping, and I’ll find an alternate route because just sitting still drives me crazy.”
What is your passion?
“Helping others, I guess that’s why I wound up in the social work field.”
With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?
“My grandmother, Roberta McNallie. She was killed in a car accident when I was 6 years old. I have only vague memories of her. My Mom said she was a very kind and giving person.”
If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?
“The 1940s because I’d like to see my parents when they were kids, and I’ve always had an interest in World War II.”
What is the best present you ever received in a box?
“My first dog, Toto, when I was 5 years old. I still remember walking into the backyard and him jumping out and running toward me and my sister. That is something you never forget, your first dog.”
What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?
“It was probably from my father and it was, ‘A fool and his money are soon parted.’”
Other than your parents, who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?
“My middle school basketball coach Charlie Smith. He was a great mentor not only on the court, but in life. He also got me interested in music and taught me how to play the guitar.”
Are you a cat person or a dog person?
“I have both, but I’m definitely more of a dog guy.”
What’s the worst job you have ever had?
“The Log Flume ride at Silver Dollar City, now Dollywood, when I was 16. It flat wore me out.”
What is your theme song that best describes you?
“ ‘Celebrate’ by Kool and the Gang. I feel like there so much in life worth celebrating. I’ve been fortunate I’ve had my share of celebration and good times and that what that song is about to me.”
What irritates you?
“People who text or answer their phone while you’re having a conversation with them.”
What’s one place in Blount County everyone should visit?
“Coulter’s Bridge at Old Walland Highway. It was our summer hangout when we were kids and still is for lots of kids today.”
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself at 18?
“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”