Feb. 26, 2013
Sarah Wood's HOW acceptance speech
Thank you so much for this amazing honor. I'm so sorry that I am standing here alone tonight. Kerry has returned to work with the Cubs organization and is participating as a Spring Training instructor in Arizona. He sends his apologies that he is not here to join us this evening.
I would like to begin by thanking the HOW organization (their administrative team, Board of Directors and Committee members) for this great honor. I would like to give a very special thank you to Sylvie Ricketts for introducing us to this amazing organization and I have a strong feeling that she is the very reason I am standing here tonight. Thank you, Sylvie!
I don't think we could have picked a better city to call our home. Chicago, the city of Big Shoulders, we brave the coldest of winters, we are a hard-working, forgiving, patient (just ask Cubs fans) and, more importantly, a giving town. This city cares for its own and all of you are showing that you are committed to that tonight.
Kerry and I began our love for Chicago children's charities over 13 years ago. The years of time spent with these charities helped us piece together exactly how we wanted our foundation to be and who we wanted to reach. The Wood Family Foundation is small but mighty. We are a grassroots, family organization that is determined to make a difference in the lives of our city's kids. We launched the Wood Family Foundation in 2011, with not the easiest path in mind. We did our homework and decided that we were going to dedicate our lives to making a difference in four of the city's neediest neighborhoods: right here in Englewood, Humboldt Park, Austin and Lawndale. Our hearts are open and our boots are on the ground, seeing these children first-hand and finding new and creative programs to reach them all on an individual level.
With all honesty, it has been like watching your child learn to walk or seeing your dream in the distance. Within two years, we have been able to build a playroom on the oncology floor of Lurie Children's, Hospital service over 1,000 children with coats and toys during the holiday season through our Warm Wishes program, provide over 5,000 children with school supply kits to begin a successful school year, and conduct our WFF summer baseball clinics in Englewood. You will not believe the hard swinging talent, right here in this city. I wish you could witness the need for a strong male role model there and how I honestly feel that this is the new role of Kerry's next chapter. Using baseball to heal with big shoulders.
Along with those programs, we have recently created the Wood Family Foundation scholarship at UIC. This fall we will be granting a full four-year scholarship, to a student from one of our four target neighborhoods to UIC's prestigious Honors College program. Giving them the opportunity to not just escape these communities, but to hope they take this opportunity to give back to their neighborhood and create a new cycle of change. Kerry and I both feel that giving a child the keys to an education creates a ripple. It changes a life, a family, a neighborhood, and so the ripple grows. We are excited to welcome a new member into our family this fall.
Housing Opportunities for Women is an organization that truly speaks to me. I, myself, was raised by a single mother, just north of us in Waukegan. There is nothing in the world like a single mother. They are truly the ones with big shoulders. What HOW is doing is impactful, digging deep. There are so many things we take for granted in life, such as a home, that safe haven where a child is nurtured and protected from their outside environment. HOW is creating this refuge for our city's children and the mothers who have dedicated their lives to being both parents. Giving them the skills they need to better themselves and make a life for their family. It's the little things, that to us, are the biggest gifts to others.
Kerry and I have often felt that you can inspire a community by being a catalyst. This city has the heart to give and is open to learning of ways to make a difference. We hope to provide others with opportunities to give in a multitude of ways: by dedicating time as a volunteer, making a donation to bring a college education to a family for the first time, cleaning out closets to donate winter items, or tonight, providing a mother with the resources she needs to create a safe, loving home for her children. Sometimes the greatest results come from the smallest effort. I hope during our evening together you are inspired to use your big shoulders to help make a difference, not only tonight, but in your community.
Thank you again for this great honor. Enjoy this wonderful evening!About the Wood Family Foundation: The WFF is a non-profit organization that was founded in June 2011 by Kerry and Sarah Wood. The WFF works to improve the lives of children in and around Chicago by raising funds and awareness for its children's programs and other children's charities they support. The WFF acts as an advocate for children in the Chicago community, inspiring others to join them in their mission of giving children the resources they need to succeed.