CARLA NORBERG – AN INSPIRATION THEN, NOW AND FOREVER

In the late 60’s, our nation began a tremendous and tumultuous time of change.   A popular tune was “The Times, They Are A’ Changing.”  Carla Norberg was not totally unaware of the changing time.  However, Carla’s life, surprisingly to many, needed no change during this time.

                Carla was born in 1955 – a year when our nation was still involved in total segregation – segregated bus seats, drinking fountains, schools, living areas, employment, and segregated offerings for future opportunities.  Amazingly, this inspirational Second Chance recipient, Carla Norberg, of African-American descent, experienced none of the nation’s segregated times.

                Raised until five years old by birthparents and a grandmother in Dallas, Carla arrived in Amarillo, Texas in 1960 as the newly adopted daughter of John and Annabelle Turner, a black, college educated couple who, as this beautiful recipient openly admits, “spoiled her to the tenth degree.”

                Though attending a segregated private elementary school, St. Martins, Carla was actively involved in dance, music, art classes and organizations as “one of the group”-- with Carla being the only person involved that was of her racial descent.  Attending Sam Houston Middle School and Tascosa High School, Carla still had no experience with discrimination.  Before graduating at age sixteen (smart little cookie huh?) she had won the honor of being elected the football queen.

                Amarillo College became the next educational path where her love of the arts in 1973 won Carla the award for best actress.  If you can remember the times, you will know that this was not only a tremendous accomplishment, but also an amazing accolade.

                Paul Quinn College in Waco, an all-black school, became Carla’s next educational center of pursuit, graduating with a major in music and piano and a minor in drama.  Upon completion, the Texas Department of Labor became her first employer where she enthusiastically found jobs for applicants.  This steady income meant moving into her own apartment.

                Living on her own and staying happily busy with her new direction in life, Carla met what she described as loving, caring, intellectual and adventurous people.  By age twenty-one, Carla began to realize how our nation had changed, what discrimination had occurred, and how much had totally escaped her short life.  She also realized what wonderful, and truly amazing, people her adoptive parents were—both college graduates in 1935, a time when our country was still recovering from the depression and segregation existed everywhere.

                Carla married and had two beautiful sons.  Carla divorced and was working two jobs, very happily and willingly, so that these two sons would always know the joy of life and have the hopes and dreams that her parents had afforded her.

                June 3, 2006 Carla’s two sons were visiting their father in Clovis, New Mexico.  Carla drove to Sunset Center to pick up her paycheck from one of her two jobs. While standing by the trunk of her car in the parking lot, a co-worker’s thirteen year old daughter, waiting for her mother, put the car in gear and accidentally rammed the car into Carla’s body. 

                Coma, broken neck in two places, legs broken, broken back in seven places, destroyed knee caps and nursing homes became the new lifestyle for Carla Norberg.  One would want to believe that in one instant this beautiful young woman’s life was destroyed.  OH, NO!  NOT CARLA NORBERG!  Not this inspirational woman who not only gives, but also forgives and forges forward with fortitude.

                In August 2007, Carla was allowed to return home.  However, she was confined to the bedroom and bathroom within her home.  It would be another four months before one of her sons was home.  Michael arrived in December 2007 with J.W. staying in Clovis to complete courses in school.

                The struggle of rehabilitation was, and is tremendous.  Carla had no freedom and was totally confined to her home.  Upon encouragement from a long time friend, Carla finally filled out an application for Second Chance asking for a hand operated brake and accelerator device for her automobile.  Before his death, Ed Collum, a Second Chance board member and concerned friend of Carla’s had only words of hope and joy for Carla’s future.

                Second Chance—the foundation that so silently contributes to and secures the future of individuals who have hopes and dreams of, once again, becoming a contributor to society.  Carla is filled not only with the joys, hopes and dreams of her sons, but knows, beyond a doubt, she can contribute to the nation’s growth of acceptance of all.

                Carla is now driving!  NO-Carla has not regained feeling in her legs.  However, Second Chance has provided hand and foot devices needed for her to operate her vehicle.  She can now leave her bedroom and bath.  She can visit her son in Clovis and she can, YES, contribute to society.

                Second Chance is the foundation that insures joyful lives for all—always willing and always working to provide a fulfilling life for all who are willing to fulfill their life by not only helping themselves, but also by contributing to life overall.

                Second Chance is as amazing as Carla Norberg—both full of inspiration, caring spirit, compassion and both kindlers of hope.

                Second Chance is unlike Carla in that Second Chance NEVER had a realization of discrimination.  Second Chance is the Panhandle’s greatest gift to all—no bias, no prejudice, and the foundation constantly perpetrating and presenting only the joys of life — fulfilling dreams of a good life.

                Thank you Carla for being an inspiration and thank you Second Chance.  Your open heart, mind and spirit are a joy to all.

Diann.Brown@bsahs.org