Bob Gabordi, Florida Today 7:18 a.m. EDT May 25, 2015
Norman Moody was clearly uncomfortable sitting in the executive editor’s office being interviewed by his boss for this report.
So think about how he must have felt being called up on stage at the National Veterans Homeless Support group event he was assigned to cover to be presented with the Veteran Advocate of the Year award.
Here is a link to that story: http://on.flatoday.com/1JQx2ry
“I was completely, I mean, I was very surprised when they called me up for this,” he said. “I thought I might be getting a little certificate or something with a long line of people.”
Moody is a veteran journalist in his 19th year at FLORIDA TODAY. His job is to cover north Brevard County as a government watchdog reporter.
Helping veterans is one of his passions. Bringing attention to himself is not. He managed to cover the event without mentioning his own award. Humble? Right down to his bones.
NVHS was founded in 2008 by George Taylor Sr., a Vietnam veteran who became homeless after coming home from Southeast Asia. Its mission is to find and help homeless veterans. They train volunteers to go into the woods and parks and bring help to veterans.
“You can teach people how to do the work to reach veterans, but you can’t teach them the compassion that Norman has for our veterans, to care for the people who served our country and protected our freedoms,” Taylor said. “He goes the extra mile.”
A one-day census in January showed there are 257 homeless vets in Brevard County. Some believe that number is much higher.
“I asked them ‘Why me?’ ” Norm told me. “They said the stories we have written about homeless veterans really put us on the map, helped to bring attention and helped raise money to help veterans.”
In 2012, the state Legislature awarded NVHS a $1 million grant. The next year, it got $500,000 more. The money is used to expand NVHS’s work beyond Brevard in providing transitional beds, reaching veterans living in the woods and on the streets and for “the annual Stand Down — a one-day event where needy veterans receive medical and dental help, as well as clothing assistance and other services,” according to a FLORIDA TODAY story Moody wrote at the time.
Moody does more than write about others helping homeless veterans; he has been out in the woods, helping to find veterans and connect them with vital services.
“I see a lot of need to tell these stories because of the number of veterans still in Brevard County woods,” Moody said. “I’ve been out in the woods several times. … I know a lot of these homeless veterans. They see me out on the street and they know who I am.”
That is one of the things that separates his work.
“He goes out into the woods and learns the real facts about these veterans, gets to know their real lives. He gets to know the issues; he’s very professional and very passionate,” Taylor said.
Moody is working to help provide eyeglasses to veterans in need, a project he has also undertaken for years in his native Nicaragua through a mission he and his wife, Elaine, call “Through Eyes of Children.”
In March, the Moodys and others were joined by Karen Boothby, a producer at FLORIDA TODAY, for a mission trip to Nicaragua. They bring used glasses and other supplies to those in need. News Columnist John Torres has also traveled to Nicaragua to assist on a mission.
“Everyone pays their own way,” Moody said. “We serve about 400 people on a trip.”
Working with Taylor, Moody hopes to serve 45 to 50 veterans with eye glasses next.
“His passion is amazing,” said Taylor. “He really has an impact on the veteran on the streets.”
View the article at FloridaToday.com http://www.floridatoday.com/story/bob-gabordi/2015/05/25/gabordi-blog-on-norman-moody/27779121/
Bob Gabordi is executive editor at Florida Today. His direct dial number is 321-242-3607321-242-3607 and cell phone is 850-591-2229850-591-2229. He is @bgabordi on Twitter and /bgabordi on Facebook. You can also find him on LinkedIn. His email address email@example.com.