Share this story


When the Essence of Love is Life:

Norma and David Hammons, Lifelong Birthright Volunteers

Norma and David Hammons were born in Southern California, where they met in high school. Both are alumni of the University of California at Los Angeles, and David attended medical school at Baylor University in Houston, Texas. Upon returning to California David worked for years as an emergency room physician while volunteering at a free medical clinic for the poor and homeless. Norma taught middle and high school Spanish and coached volleyball while being involved with Birthright. They have been married for 51 years and their combined Birthright ministry spans most of that time. They have two children and 11 grandchildren and attend Christ Child Catholic Church in the Santa Cruz Mountains.


Tell me about your ministry or role within the ministry at Birthright and how long you have been involved.

David: Birthright's mission is to provide free, confidential support to women facing unplanned pregnancies. Birthright of San Jose is one of the hundreds of chapters in the U.S., Canada, and South Africa. I have had the privilege of volunteering in Birthright San Jose’s office for more than 20 years. Before that, Norma and I became involved with the organization as a shepherding home —homes that offer shelter to pregnant women. More recently, I have served as a member of the board and the executive director.

Norma: Birthright offers women an alternative to abortion through practical and emotional support. Our motto is, "The Essence of Birthright is Love," which comprises the belief that every pregnant woman has a right to give birth and every child has a right to be born. I have been involved with Birthright for 40 years. As David mentioned, we volunteered as a shepherding home for the first ten years. After that, I worked with clients for the next 30 years. In that time, I have been both a director and regional consultant for Birthright chapters in California, all told, for close to 20 years in each position.

How has your ministry impacted you spiritually?

Norma: It has made me realize how important it is to have faith in this type of work. Helping those in need requires trust in Him and humility, but above all it requires love.

David: It has made me realize how important prayer is to our work. Our foundress, Louise Summerhill, used to say, "Speak to God about the girl before you speak to the girl about God". This work has helped deepen my faith. Being a Birthright volunteer has stretched my capacity to love and taught me to be a better listener to clients and to God through prayer. Witnessing how God answers our prayers for clients has also brought me closer to him in the process.

What do you wish others knew about Birthright?

Norma: I wish more people knew about our work as we can serve more women if more knew about us. Our wonderful volunteers are nonjudgmental and ready to help.

David: I wish more people knew what we do. Due to confidentiality, and the desire to stay out of politics, Birthright operates away from the public eye. But we also love engaging in and with the community to garner support  so that more women who may need us know about us. Another thing I would like people to know is that our clients are not all single and poor; some are married and financially comfortable.

What inspires and challenges you the most in your ministry?

Norma: I am most inspired when a woman in difficult circumstances chooses life even though society tells her that sustaining the life inside of her is a mistake and an undue burden. I am also edified during Birthright International’s annual training events which are attended by fellow dedicated volunteers from around the world.

David: The most inspiring thing is to know you have helped a woman choose life and that a baby has been saved. It is deeply rewarding to work with those who are also passionate about defending life. At the annual international conventions that Norma mentioned, it is beautiful to witness Birthright’s mission on a global scale. The most challenging part of working at Birthright is finding the words to encourage and support a woman considering abortion to reconsider her choice. Our approach is positive, loving, and without judgment, but it is difficult when they choose to terminate.

Why is this ministry important to you personally? Why should it be important to all Catholics?

Norma: I have witnessed firsthand the heartache caused by abortion and feel God has invited me personally to work for its alternative. It should be important to all Catholics because we share a universal call to protect life in its weakest, and most vulnerable forms. I have come to believe that women deserve better than abortion.

David: I feel that God, in a particular way, called me to use my life experience to help our clients. As Norma said, this ministry should be especially dear to all Catholics to defend the weakest among us.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

David: God calls the weakest among us to do His work. All that is required is a caring, humble heart, that shares God’s passionate love for all human life.

Norma: We would like to invite everyone who reads this to pray for us and for God's guidance if you feel called to work with us or support us. God bless you.