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From Retiree to Jewelry Expert: Meet Longtime Volunteer Norma

From Retiree to Jewelry Expert: Meet Longtime Volunteer Norma


With her eclectic, show-stopping style, Norma Mascarotti has become the long-standing jewelry guru of Housing Works Thrift Shops. Read below for Norma’s story, and get the chance to meet the queen of glitz and glam herself at her jewelry event, “Norma’s Picks”, on December 15th at our Gramercy Location.

Housing Works: How long have you been volunteering at Housing Works?
Norma Mascarotti: “Wow, it’s got to be at least 15 years!”

HW: What initially made you want to get involved with Housing Works?
NM: “I had just retired from a top executive position; I was a buyer at Federated Department Stores. After that I was the Vice President of a textile company. I had to do something after I retired to keep myself busy. I found Housing Works and I thought that would be the place to go!”

HW: What’s your favorite part of volunteering?
NM: “Being able to get up in the morning and having something to do. I really love being around the Housing Works community and the customers.”

HW: You’re known as the jewelry expert around here! When did your love for jewelry develop? Did you have any influences?
NM: “I have been a collector of jewelry since I was a little kid. I like fashion jewelry, in particular. Anything handmade, different, and exciting! It’s fun to wear and fun to collect. I would always buy handmade jewelry from wherever we traveled to when I was young.”

HW: What was your style like when you were in school?
NM: Very eccentric! I was sometimes criticized for it. I remember at my first job in a department store, I loved wearing loose-fitting dresses. I was called up to the office and they told me to stop wearing those dresses because it looked like maternity wear! They weren’t, but I was criticized for that! My friends accepted my style for what it was, though. Now I tend to wear mostly black so my jewelry can stand out. Plus…it makes me look thinner!

HW: What’s your favorite piece of jewelry and why?
NM: I have a very dramatic, long-strand, pearl necklace. It’s very long with a big rhinestone clasp on it. It’s my favorite because my husband gave it to me. It’s from Paris! I’m famous for that particular piece. It was given to me in the 70’s and I wear it mainly on special occasions.

HW: How has Housing Works impacted your life?
NM: It has impacted my life so much! As a volunteer, I see two sides of it: One side is the giving side of yourself to helping the cause, the other side is helping yourself. It works both ways. It keeps you going for a reason, and the reason being the cause. It makes me feel good while making others feel good.

HW: If you could describe the Housing Works community in three words, what would those words be?
NM: Best of people. I’ve made a lot of friends here. I come to Housing Works from another industry where most of my time was spent with the people within that industry. That’s what your life becomes when you are so involved with your career. I never had too many friends there. Here, I have so many! I’m always at ease. The people here are always great. Whether it’s in the stores or coming to the warehouse…They always make you feel at home and great and a part of the community. The Housing Works community brings together the best of people!

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