Perhaps it started with her middle name - a simple, yet powerful word - Joy. It seems as if Norma Joy Barnes is on a divine mission to bring joy into the lives of “the least of these”, as she strives to make our world a better place to live.
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Norma Joy was the first of six children born to Norman and Geraldine Bell, who taught their children to serve those in need with purpose and passion. Norma followed the example that her parents set, with a legacy of volunteer and community service to help empower the lives of disadvantaged individuals.
Norma Joy Barnes, graduated from Boggs Academy (Keysville, Georgia) and received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology and Psychology from Clark College, Atlanta, Georgia. Her graduate studies include Georgia State University (Sociology) and Atlanta School of Law.
As a college student, Norma worked as a volunteer with mentally challenged children. After graduating from college, Barnes worked as a caseworker with Economic Opportunity Atlanta, a casework supervisor with the Christian Council of Metropolitan Atlanta, and as an Equal Opportunity Specialist, Investigator and Mediator for the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). She retired from the EEOC on August 2, 2008, with thirty-four years of service.
During the past thirty years, Barnes has also worked as a volunteer with at-risk youth, teenagers, and disadvantaged women. She served as a Volunteer Coordinator with Joint Action in Community Service (JACS), a nonprofit organization that was funded by the U. S. Department of Labor to provide support services to young males returning from the U. S. Job Corps, and subsequently served on the JACS Board of Directors from 1975 until 1992.
In 1985, Barnes founded the Youth Ventures Program for teenagers in the metropolitan Atlanta area. She subsequently served as a mentor for the Friend to Friend Mentoring Program that was co-sponsored by the NAACP and the Youth Development Center, and as co-founder and project coordinator for Villages International, Inc. She founded the Community Council of Metropolitan Atlanta and the Priority Male Program in 2008.
As a result of her community service, Norma was awarded the Regional and National Volunteer of the Year Awards by Joint Action in Community Service (1975), the Lifetime Non-Profit Trinity Award (2013), the Atlanta’s Top 100 Black Women of Influence (2015), Outstanding Leadership Award (2016) - Miracles, Miracles and More Miracles, Community Service Award (2017) – Let Us Make Man, Inc., Community Service Award (2018) – International Toastmasters, Inc./District 14, RCIE Award (2019), Church Women United Award (2019) and other honors. She has appeared on “A Woman’s Place” (AIB), Focus on Atlanta (WUPA), People 2 People (WSB), The T.D. Jakes Show (BET), Religion Roundtable (AIB), Atlanta Live (WXIA), WCLK TV, and others televised shows. Her work has also been featured in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Atlanta Voice, the Atlanta Daily World, Atlanta Inquirer, Common Ground News, and other media sources.