Monday, April 24, 2017

Inspirational Chapel Speaker on NVW 2017 : Alumna Dj. Wood'11, Saint Baldrick's Team

7:30 am YAC makes thank you cards for LD donors.  
The LD helped with all drives YAC facilitated.  
Thank LD for your giving hands and your kind hearts!

8:00 a.m.  Inspirational  National Volunteer Week 2017, Guest Speaker, Dj. Woods at UD Chapel

YAC Co-Vice-Presidents introduced alumna, Ladijah Wood'11 as YAC inspirational speaker for National Volunteer Week 2017.  D.J. PP here

Hi, my name is Dj and I have some good and bad news. The bad news in that this moment will only happen once in your lifetime and we don’t get to press the redo button on anything. A great philosopher once said “And life ain’t a rehearsal. The camera’s always rolling”. 

The good news is that nobody actually had their cameras rolling so we can redo that introduction for people who are going to watch this on social media later on. It’s early and it’s Monday and I know when I was in your position a few years ago, the only thing on my mind as I sat in chapel was sleep and what was for lunch. 
So, indulge me for a moment. Allow me to reintroduce myself. Good morning! My name is LaDijah Wood. I’m a graduate of Casady School (Class of 2011), a Class of 2015 graduate of Philander Smith College, a private HBCU in Little Rock, I’m an aspiring dentist and I am the only me you will ever meet in your life. Over the next couple of minutes, I want to talk to you guys about this week’s theme – Service Unites, my experience with service, and the importance of serving others.

      Let’s take it back in time really quickly to the most awkward years of my life. That’s right, I’m talking about….high school. I was 13 years old when I first came to this school and I was the youngest person in my freshman class.  Naturally, since I was a lot younger than my classmates, I found myself feeling out of place. Even though I came to Casady with my older sister, I still found myself feeling a lot like a fish out of water, struggling to find at least a small puddle to sustain me. It wasn’t until I found a hidden treasure tucked away in Lee Lecture Hall that I was reintroduced to myself. That treasure was then called the Youth and Adult Advisory Council or YAC as we so lovingly knew it.

My first year as a member of YAC meant more to me than just being a part of a club. I became part of a family. My family included people from different cultures and backgrounds but we all desired to leave our school and community a little better than when we found it. When we came together, we had a single heartbeat for a common purpose. We were intentional agents of change. We were less concerned about how people would respond to our efforts and solely focused on achieving our goals. It was through YAC that I got the opportunity to travel to Minneapolis for the first time for the 2008 National Service Learning Conference. It was through conducting my first service project that I met my best friends of 10 years. It was through combining the things I love with my passion for serving others that the Casady Dance Crew (CDC) was born and we developed a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Oklahoma City.

Fast forward 6 years later, I am currently serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. If you’re not familiar with AmeriCorps, it’s a national service program. Members are sent to different non-profit organizations across the country for a year to serve as a capacity builder, laying a solid foundation for future members to add to. While I’ve always been sure of what I want to do since I was 3 years old, I decided to pursue AmeriCorps because I understand that my life is about more than just that one thing. It’s the compilation of many small elements coming together to create a masterpiece. I believe my larger purpose in life is to use my gifts, talents, and abilities to further someone else’s progression and that’s a call each of us has on our lives. 

Think about it – every skill that you have was because someone had to help you. None of us got to where we are now on our own. The same way someone gave us their time and energy to help uplift us, we have a duty to do the same.

Philippians 2:3-6 says “In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more that yourselves. Don’t be interested only in your own life, but care about the lives of others too”. 

In case you’re unware, there are people in our country that are struggling. There are people in our state that are struggling. Someone close to you could be struggling and you may never know. Most organizations asking for volunteers need them to be able to serve a population of people or to get a significant amount of work completed at a faster rate. If you choose not to come, work doesn’t get done and the amount of people benefiting from the fruits of your labor significantly drops. While there will likely be someone that comes along to volunteer for the same cause, what would happen if they choose not to come? Are you comfortable knowing that the people who are counting on you may not receive help on your watch? While each of us is just one of 7 billion plus people in the world, somebody is depending on you. You are here on this Earth, at this school, in this chapel for a reason. You have a purpose that’s so much greater than you can imagine. If we were meant to keep our gifts, talents, and abilities to ourselves, there would be no need for us to be here. The sooner we recognize that there are so many lives connected to ours, we can begin the conversation about uniting to serve with a purpose.

My fellow Cyclones, you are fortunate enough to have an amazing organization right here on campus with a director who lives and breathes service that can help you figure out how you can use your abilities in the most efficient way. Perhaps the most important part about serving others is doing it with a cheerful spirit. If you’re helping out with an indifferent attitude, then you’ll easily miss the beauty of your works. The bottom line is everyone has a story. Everyone has dealt with something and everyone has been down on their luck. If you haven’t, I know I have. A few times actually. One thing is for sure. I would not be standing before you today without others pouring into me.

I know I’ve stood before you and I’ve said a lot of words, some of which may have gone in one ear and out the other, and you may be trying to convince yourself that service isn’t for you or that you have plenty of time to help others out and you would rather just wait until you’re ready. Well, I want to leave you with this. In the immortal words of John F. Kennedy, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”Thank you!

8:45 am Service-Learning pauses to play the Earth Week Compassion Games: 

Reflect On Yesterday's Mission

Before moving on to Mission #3, reflect on yesterday's mission. How did it feel to consider how much our lives depended on water, and that our bodies are mostly made of water? Was it difficult to be mindful of saving water? Why do you think this is? How did it feel to appreciate water more fully for its many gifts? Did you feel more connected and present? If you haven't already done so, shares your experiences on the Compassion Report Map to inspire others!
Our third mission, Agents, is to love food by preparing a healthy and nourishing meal for those you love.

“Is there any practice less selfish, any time less wasted, than preparing something delicious and nourishing for the people you love?”
- Michael Pollan, Cooked

To love our family and friends is to wish for them to have the vital things that make life possible and worthwhile. Food, without a doubt, is life. All living beings require good, healthy food to grow, have strength, and make life worth living. This nourishment grows abundantly from the generous bounty of Mother Earth, and when we take this bounty into ourselves, it becomes our very bodies.

Cooking food and sharing a meal together makes us more human. The experience of coming together, around a fire and a good meal, lies deep within our ancestral memories. When we eat a healthy meal that we made ourselves - not only are we connecting with this ancient tradition - we are nourishing ourselves in an act of compassion that extends to those we dearly love.

Agents, our third mission is to love food by making or sharing a healthy meal for someone you care about. If you don’t cook, don’t worry! It isn’t as difficult as it first appears.
  • Try teaming up with someone who knows how to cook to fulfill this mission.
  • Think about where your ingredients are coming from, and make an effort to select from the most local and sustainable options if you are able to.
  • You can even invite many people to cook for each other by having a potluck, and having a discussion about the importance of food, human connection, and our relationship to the Earth.
Every act of eating symbolizes our innate bond to the living world around us. How incredible is that?!

Share your experiences on the Compassion Report Map to inspire others and amplify the power of your compassion for Mother Earth!

Good luck, Agents!

Going Deeper:

This mission was inspired by award winning author and food activist Michael Pollan. If you have an inkling to deepen your appreciation for food in any way, check out his newest documentary called "Cooked". Watch a meaningful and heart-provoking clip of "Cooked" below.

Each day during Earth Week, the Compassion Torch will be passed to a different Champion of Compassion. For Day 3 of the Earth Week, we are thrilled to pass the Compassion Torch from the Amy Walker to the People's Climate March.

YAC works on Students Rebuild, Youth Uplift Challenge throughout the day.  Stanley Hupfeld Academy at Western Village joined our effort to decorate 1,000 traced hands before Thursday, April 27, 2017.
375 traced hands for the Student Rebuild, Youth Uplift Challenge
were decorated by Brookdale Statesmen Club residents and staff
A few members of the Saint Baldrick's Day Head-Shaving Team stopped after MD Chapel for a token of YAC's appreciation for a job well done.   
The team raised $ 11,793 as of 5/2/2017
News story at