3 Questions With ... Rev. Sadie A. Woolford in Celebration of Black Philanthropy Month - WGC's Our Giving, Our Stories - 8/9
WGC's 2022 "Our Giving, Our Stories" Series in Celebration of Black Philanthropy Month
The Women's Giving Circle of Howard County is proud to continue our support for Black Philanthropy Month (BPM), observed every August! The primary aims of BPM are informing, involving, inspiring and investing in Black philanthropic leadership to strengthen African-American and African-descent giving in all its forms, for the benefit of our planet, our communities, our organizations and our lives.
One way WGC is doing this is through WGC's "Our Giving, Our Stories!" daily profile Series each August. Each day this month we are sharing daily profiles of incredible women in our community who are giving in so many ways - in celebration of Black Philanthropy Month.
Today, we elevate the voice and story of philanthropist, Rev. Sadie A. Woolford:
What moves you to give your time, talent and financial resources?
My main motivation is that I want to leave a better world for future generations. They should not have to reinvent the wheel by enduring all the same trials that my generation has endured. For example, when I graduated from high school I could not afford to go to college even though I had a full academic scholarship for tuition. So today I work to provide scholarships for Black Howard County students graduating from high school. I was proud to give a scholarship in memory of my deceased husband, who worked tirelessly to get equal protection under the laws for Black students in this county.
An important opportunity came for me to support the next generation when my daughter and her friends started Jambalaya Magazine, a Howard County publication spotlighting the accomplishments of people of African Descent. They asked me to be president of the umbrella organization, Jambalaya, Inc. I remember as if it were yesterday how excited I was to attend the meeting where I was to be elected president. I even remember the opal-colored blazer and the opal earrings that I wore.It was one of my proudest moments. As an organization, we later held the Maryland Jambalaya-Fest at Lake Elkhorn. This was a cultural festival featuring speakers, seminars, artists, writers, music, food booths, and more.
I understand that one person can make a great difference in the world. So I do my part and do not leave everything for others to do. Just as each of us benefits from the good that others do, I believe it is important that each of us do something to benefit others. When I see suffering and injustice in the world, I cannot just sit silently. I am a strong believer that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
Further, I believe that a valuable way to show gratitude for m many blessings is to give back to the community. Service and stewardship are part of my Christian heritage. I remember when the Drug Abuse Ministry at my church here in Columbia hosted a delegation of Russians who were visiting the White House and they were in disbelief that we conducted this ministry without pay. We explained to them as they listened intently that volunteer work was an integral part of our Christian tradition. They said that they were not familiar with this volunteer tradition.Their attitude helped to increase my understanding of the uniqueness as well as the importance of volunteer service.
After I earned my advanced degrees in counseling and becoming credentialed as a licensed counselor, I conducted most of my counseling for my church, which was my main motivation for pursuing this discipline. Having served in almost every capacity in the church, currently I conduct a noontime prayer line. My husband and I proudly donated, among other funds, to our building campaign by donating a brick in memory of our mothers.
When did you start giving to issues that are important to you?
I started serving and giving to an issue that was important to me when I served as secretary to the Parent Teachers Association at Bryant Woods Elementary Schoo in Columbia. After moving to Columbia in 1970 partly influenced by the forward-looking school system, I was dismayed at both the extreme shortage of Black teachers and the way the Black students were not prized by their white teachers. Realizing the importance of being actively involved n my children's education, I became active in the PTA. From that vantage point, I joined my husband in petitioning the Superintendent of Schools to hire more Black educators, an effort that met with some success.
During this same period of time, I became active in the interfaith movement at the Wilde Lake Interfaith Center. It became clear to me that Blacks were losing our religious heritage as well as our voice in decision making. Along with my husband, I then became a founding member of St. John Baptist Church of Columbia, Maryland, which restored these features. While I worked for the church to regain its voice, I also found my own voice.
What advice do you have for those interested in giving back?
I say, just get started. Don't wait until you think the time is right, but make yourself available immediately. There is probably never a convenient time. Know that you can make a difference no matter how small you think your contribution to be. Someone will be influenced and appreciative. Do your best, and that will be good enough. You will likely enhance someone else's life, and you will certainly gain valuable life experience.
Where do you focus your time, talent, and treasure?
Learn more about the WGC's "Our Giving, Our Stories!" Series celebrating Black Philanthropy Month every day in August 2022.
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