Lula R. Woodard is celebrating more than two decades of service to Women of Colors (WOC). Lula began volunteering for us in 2000! Today she reflects on her amazing journey working with like-minded women to benefit communities in and around Saginaw.
Lula has watched firsthand as WOC has expanded our programming to serve more people and to serve them more effectively. One of the first programs WOC launched was entitled Great Empowering Motivational Sessions (GEMS). This program focused on teaching young people social and life skills. In addition to WOC’s continued emphasis on mentorship and skills training for youth, including children and teens from underserved families, WOC now promotes three forums to mothers, fathers, and community members as part of an even more holistic approach to community building. Each forum series embraces powerful, transparent storytelling, and the topics range from “How I Overcame” to “I Am Still a Man” to “Time to Have a Conversation.”
Lula is happy with the many partnerships WOC has cultivated over her two decades of service. “Many variants have transformed our group through collaboration with other Great Lakes Bay agencies,” she says. WOC has remained firm in our values but flexible in our approach in order to respond to community needs. Based on increased demand for substance abuse prevention education in the Great Lakes Bay Region, for example, our organization now administers two evidence-based programs, Prime for Life and Botvin Life Skills, which serve middle school students and adults.
Like other nonprofits, WOC tackles old and new community challenges alike. Lula feels well-equipped to tackle those challenges as a community thanks in part to the training and support WOC provides for our members: “Women of Colors strongly believes in professional development training for its members. We have attended many leadership trainings, and the Prevention Team is required to complete at least twelve hours of training for certification each year.”
Great leadership more often than not requires individuals and organizations to adapt. In 2020, WOC ran a drive-thru Warm a Child for Winter coat giveaway, coordinated virtual forums, and created take-home science kits for youth in the Students and Future Technology program. “My perception of how far Women of Colors has come is due to the leadership and volunteers as we have learned to pivot during this pandemic since last year by doing remote sessions,” says Lula. “WOC has shown fastidious decision making during the highs and lows that many nonprofit organizations experience.”
For Lula, WOC embodies the values of spirituality, unity, and accountability. She finds hope in the Bible verse Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the thoughts and plans I have for your life.” In the future, Lula envisions WOC expanding to other counties within Michigan and even other states to become a national organization to help more women, children, and families.
Thank you, Lula, for your varied and vast contributions to Women of Colors! Your commitment to lending a helping hand in the Saginaw community has touched our lives and many others.