We are happy to announce that earlier this month we welcomed two new members to the FMS staff: Emily Norton and Mercedes Matthews.
Emily Norton will be assuming the role of Programs Manager, supporting our missioners in the field, coordinating short-term mission trips, and directing formation for new missioners.
Born and raised in Portland, Ore., Emily first started volunteering extensively in high school and was committed to service throughout her college years at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa. At Bucknell, she served as the Community Service Chair for the Catholic Campus Ministry and volunteered with several other school clubs. She also went on three different service trips to Nicaragua, South Carolina and Nazareth Farm in West Virginia.
Emily first fell in love with Latin America at age sixteen, during a three-week cultural immersion trip to Cuernavaca, Mexico and later on a mission trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. She continued to grow in her love for the people, language and culture of Latin America as she majored in International Studies at Bucknell and minored in Latin American Studies.
Quito, Ecuador holds a special spot in her heart, because she studied abroad there for five months, taking classes in Spanish at an Ecuadorian university and living with a host family. She also studied and traveled to Costa Rica and Peru.
Upon graduating, Emily took part in a Catholic lay volunteer program in Guayaquil, Ecuador for several months where she directed an after-school program for over 40 at-risk children, assisted at a Hansen’s disease (leprosy) hospital and participated in community outreach.
Similar to FMS lay missioners, Emily lived in intentional community with other volunteers and practiced accompaniment and the ministry of presence with those experiencing poverty and marginalization.
Coming back to the States, Emily worked with Clinton Global Initiative University in New York City, an initiative to engage the next generation of international youth leaders. Emily then took her talents to George Washington University here in Washington, DC to manage the university’s longest-running service leadership program, connecting GWU students to local nonprofits.
Most recently, Emily worked with the Salvation Army National Capital Area Command. As a part of the development department, she oversaw all of their volunteer programs in the greater DC metropolitan region, as well as their Angel Tree Program, which provided Christmas gifts to over 6,100 children in Washington, DC, alone.
Emily first heard of Franciscan Mission Service several years ago by looking into the Nonprofit Servant Leadership Program. “Ever since then FMS has been on my radar since it sounded like such an awesome organization,” Emily said. “When I saw the position opening I jumped on it. It combines my passion for service as well as my faith–it’s a perfect combination.”
Since arriving in DC, Emily has enjoyed the great events that the nonprofit epicenter has to offer, as well as the vibrant cultural festivals and beautiful parks. She actively serves as an Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister and a member of the young adult leadership board for her local parish.
Fun fact: She has a twin brother who is 13 minutes older.
Mercedes Matthews is the new Nonprofit Servant Leadership Program Coordinator whose duties will include overseeing the inaugural class of DC Service Corps volunteers.
A native of Valencia, Calif., Mercedes is an alumna of St. Mary’s College of California, a Catholic liberal arts school in Moraga run by Lasallian Christian Brothers where she majored in integrated liberal arts and led the school’s Habitat for Humanity organization.
While in college, Mercedes took part in two alternative breaks to Oregon as part of Habitat for Humanity to build homes for those in need of proper shelter. She also took part in two study abroad trips to Italy and Brazil.
Over the summer before her junior year, Mercedes studied the Italian language in Sorrento, Italy, as well as the theatre and the impact it has on the people.
Outside of Manaus, Brazil, Mercedes participated in a month-long program called “Poverty and Promise” where she worked in a marginalized neighborhood helping with summer programs for the neighborhood youth to stay engaged.
Upon graduating, Mercedes had a desire to devote a year to service after the impact her trip to Brazil had on her. To fulfill that desire, she took part in AmeriCorp’s National Civilian Community Corps based in Vinton, Iowa, where she served as a team leader for the corps members of the program.
When her first year with AmeriCorps was through, she joined another AmeriCorps program serving with an affordable housing alliance in Honolulu, Hawaii. Following these years of service Mercedes continued to work in Hawaii as a volunteer coordinator at an aquarium.
“Working alongside marine biologists and educators gave me a greater appreciation for the connections and interactions between each part of our environment,” Mercedes said.
She returned to California after her time in Hawaii to work with her local parish in faith formation and young adult ministries. Mercedes discovered FMS’ Nonprofit Servant Leadership Program through the job postings on Catholic Volunteer Network’s website. As fate would have it, a week later she visited the FMS booth at the LA Religious Education Congress where she met operations manager Sarah Hoffeditz and fell in love with the program.
“Finding an opportunity for service with an emphasis on faith and spirituality is a great opportunity and I’m really excited to be part of such an awesome program,” Mercedes said.
Mercedes is looking forward to exploring Washington, DC’s many museums and churches and growing in her Catholic faith.
Fun fact: Her favorite food is watermelon.