Woods (pictured), 87, received gold honors in the Community Champion category from the Older Volunteers Enrich America awards program, which is sponsored by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging and the MetLife Foundation. He was one of 26 people to receive awards earlier this summer in Washington, D.C., and just one of three gold honorees.
The Epilepsy Association of Oklahoma nominated him for the award, which is given to people over the age of 50. The charitable organization, which he helped establish some 30 years ago, received an award of $2,500 for their nomination of Woods.
“It’s pleasurable when you do something, or are a part of doing something, that you see is doing some good,” Woods said.
His days start early and finish late, which may be surprising because of his age, but shouldn’t be surprising considering all of his commitments. These commitments include a part-time job with Oklahoma Christian University, volunteer work for the OKC Veterans Affairs Medical Center and board member positions with the Boy Scouts of America, a senior nutrition program, Variety Health Center and the Epilepsy Association.
He has spent many years working with all of these organizations, including 75 with the Boy Scouts, 16 of which were as a Scoutmaster, and 50 with the Variety Health Center.
Woods is an Army veteran who spent 42 years in the service before retiring in 1983 as a colonel. His military experience included time in World War II, where he was held as a prisoner of war for about five months in Germany.
“We were all living under very difficult conditions, and we learned to help one another under very difficult conditions all the way through.”
He elaborated on these conditions, including an anecdote about carrying one of their fellow prisoners for five days following their release, because his feet were severely frozen and damaged.
Although his time in WWII contributed to his ideas about volunteering, he said he has always enjoyed helping others.
“An important part of life is learning to help one another,” Woods said. “We grew up learning to love one another, and to help one another.”
He hails from Fort Smith, Ark., and wound up in Oklahoma City after OGE offered him a job. He has been here since, living in the same house for 63 years.
After his time with OGE he ended up with Oklahoma Christian, where he still works today, involved principally in youth outreach programs.
Financially, Woods doesn’t need to work, but he enjoys what he does.
“To me it’s not like hard work; it’s something enjoyable,” he said.