January 1, 2021

Patrick Norris

My first phone call in 2021 was from Patrick Norris. I’ve known Patrick for nearly two decades. I first met him in a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) class held at a local community hospital.

Former Illinois DMH Recovery Support Specialist Jan Sanders and I were co-facilitating. I was shadowing, facilitating under her certification. Patrick was a participant. Both of us had experienced homelessness.

We went on to successfully complete facilitator training and eventually became employed at that same hospital. We were hired to facilitate discussion groups on the psychiatric units.

Over the years, Patrick has made significant contributions to the recovery community. He has become friend to many and is perhaps best known for emceeing the annual recovery conference, before it was discontinued.

I’ll never forget the time he spoke up with the Illinois Commission on the Elimination of Poverty. A group of us went to Springfield to testify when an announcement was made asking groups to consolidate their testimonies.

Patrick stood up in the middle of the auditorium and, in a booming voice heard by all, asserted with Commissioners that our group did not represent one agency. He advocated for them to listen to our testimony.

Most Commissioners stayed and our consumer testimony was heard.

In June 2018, I lost my transportation for the second time in my life. I carpooled to a training with someone when Patrick asked me to step outside during break. He asked “Will this do you for awhile?”

He was pointing to his green jeep. He loaned it to me. No charge. No expectation of anything other than I would carry on with this good work. Who does that? What kind of person loans their personal vehicle?

When he called today, he asked what I was doing. He said “You’ve always got something cooking” so I told him about our Christian Women’s Mental Health Conference. It’s happening on Friday, January 8, 2021.

Without missing a beat, he asked “Do you need any volunteers?” Yes. If he has the day available, I’m gonna take him up on that offer. He truly has a servant’s heart and is always reminding me of what the good book says.