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Community leaders honored with MLK Servant-Leadership Award

December 08, 2011

Community leaders Bob Ramsey and Jenny Norton have been awarded the MLK Servant-Leadership award for their work with the homeless and support of education.

“It is amazing. I cried when we found out,” said Norton of the accolade. “It is overwhelming and we are so emotionally grateful.”

In the late 80’s Ramsey and Norton founded the Ramsey Justice Foundation to serve the underrepresented and marginalized members of the community, as well as those in foreign countries and developing nations.

Through the foundation, the couple work to feed the homeless in a rotating shelter and provide basic living needs. Norton also lends a helping hand to those in need as a volunteer chaplain at Tempe St. Lukes Hospital.

“I visit patients who are underinsured, access state insured or homeless. I help the homeless to get on access and after care so they don’t return to the streets until they are completely well,” said Norton.

To further support the educational needs of the growing community, the Ramey Justice Foundation offers numerous scholarships and grants students at ASU, Maricopa Community Colleges, the Tempe Union High School District and the Phoenix Union High School District to name a few.

“We offer scholarships for diversity, LGBT, research study and general studies,” said Norton. “Anyone that needs civil rights is on our list to help. I believe that just as the sun is the reason we have light, equality and education are the reasons we can live.”

In 2010 Ramsey and Norton were honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tempe Chamber of Commerce. They have also earned the support of Mayor Hugh Hallman and are currently working in conjunction to open the Evelyn Rose Hallman endowment, named after Mayor Hallman’s mother.

The endowment will be used to provide permanent supportive housing for participants in the Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program (IHELP). IHELP is a coordinated effort of various faith communities in Tempe that provide meals, shelter and showers for the homeless.

In the future, Norton says she plans to continue her work with homeless and hopes the homeless epidemic is brought to an end.  

“I would like to see that we are all, as Brother Martin said, free at last,” said Norton.

Editors note: Bob Ramsey was not available during the time of interview.