It's a Blessing's 'Mama Dee' is surprised with an SUV

Shawn Hardy
Deidre 'Mama Dee' Norris talks about what the vehicle she was given Tuesday morning will mean as she feeds the homeless, takes care of the elderly and helps the less fortunate through It's a Blessing to Be a Blessing in Hagerstown. SHAWN HARDY/ECHO PILOT

Deidre Norris has devoted her life to helping others, including the elderly, the homeless and the less fortunate in Hagerstown.

The cancer survivor works tirelessly through It's a Blessing to Be a Blessing despite suffering from fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis — and not having a vehicle.

That last challenge disappeared Tuesday when she was surprised with a 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada packed with personal care items, clothes and non-perishable food.

Grandma's Mission Angels, a nonprofit based in Greencastle that helps families faced with medical issues, teamed up with Blaise Alexander to give Norris the SUV, complete with title, taxes and tags.

The presentation 

Norris thought she was going to lunch with a friend, who needed to pick up some parts at Blaise Alexander first. When they rounded a row of cars in the parking lot, they were greeted by a crowd of family, friends, supporters and other donors.

"I am supposed to be going out to eat ...," she said after she wiped her tears and was escorted to a seat of honor.

"She has dedicated her life to insure that the less fortunate, families that have fallen into hard times and the elderly have warm meals and the hygiene products they need daily," said Dawn Folley, president and with her husband, Sam, founder of Grandma's Mission Angels. "You will find her on the corner of Franklin and Prospect streets every Thursday of every week feeding 80-plus people. She also opens her home to so many on a daily basis. Because of this wonderful woman, these families can go to sleep at night with no hunger pangs."

"You are truly a blessing," said Billy Lowe, general manager of the dealership, as he gave Norris the keys.

The first six months of insurance are courtesy of Dustin Beaver, vice president of Grandma's Mission Angels, and his business the Mulch Bin.

Kimberly Jones of US Cellular and Great Commission Ministries presented a basket of cellular vehicle accessories ... and a gift card so Norris can have her nails done and go to the movies. Keplinger's Automotive Accessories in Hagerstown donated the Maryland state inspection and supporters provided $270 in gas gift cards.

"We truly hope that you now understand the support you have for yourself and your organization for the difference you make in our community," Folley said.

"Blessings upon blessings to all ... it will come back to you tenfold," Norris said.

"What I've done in the last four years is a purpose God put in my life," Norris said. "I lost my house, I lost my car, but if I had a spaghetti dinner for me and my kids I could share."

Even though Norris is younger than many of those she helps, the still call her "Mama Dee" or "the Blessing Lady."

She explained what she does is not just about the food, it is also about "loving, caring and a smile."

For more information, see the It's a Blessing to Be a Blessing Facebook page or email deidrenorris8@gmail.com.

Grandma's Mission Angels 

The Folleys funded Grandma's Missions Angels out of their own pockets for many years before becoming a nonprofit organization.

It honors Dawn's grandmother, Carless Knepper, who passed away in 2000.

"My grandmother taught me God always provides. If you help someone with your last dollar, God will provide," said Dawn, who sported a Grandma's Mission Angels T-shirt with "Giving runs through our veins" printed on the back.

For the next act of giving, Grandma's Mission Angels is teaming up with the Redneck Outlaws for a fundraiser for a boy with a rare disorder. It will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 5, at the Athlete's Edge on North Antrim Way and will include a cornhole tournament, chicken barbecue and games of chance. Two-person teams can still sign up for the tournament and the $40 entry fee includes two chicken dinners.

For more information, see the Grandma's Missions Angels Facebook page or call 717-414-9799.