Friday, September 26, 2014

Luncheon Speaker, Wanda Pratt

A tiny portion of the keynote speaker's presentation--from our notes--follows. Wanda Pratt, mother of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant, had the audience gripped from the moment she, with beaming smile and radiating kindness, was introduced. 

United Way of Central Oklahoma has orchestrated many inspiring volunteer luncheons, but this is among the best.

Charla Rhodes, director of the Volunteer Center, introduced Wanda Pratt, who is a multi-faceted role model. At age 18, Wanda was a teen mother of Anthony. At 21, she had Kevin. Fortunately, she had strong, supportive female relatives as mentors. Although she was a single mom of two boys by age 22, she achieved a two-decade career with the federal government and raised two outstanding young men.

Wanda Pratt & Linda Tharp,
VP Human Resources &
Programs, United Way
Wanda described herself as a good mother, or “hovering” one. She wanted her sons to participate in youth basketball or other organized sports. Caring who was around her boys, she made the opportunity to observe the men involved in her sons’ organized sports. Quickly, she became the team mom. 

“The little boys were really there for the chips and Gatorade,” she added.

Eventually, Wanda decided to spend time with the girls at the recreation center, and she built relationships with them. When her sons were older, Wanda decided to go back to school to get her college degree. She had not realized the impact she had had on the young ladies, approximately 15 of them. Later one of the girls told Wanda that she had left them hanging. She had not realized the power of her time and relationship with the girls. 

Wanda told the audience, “It broke my heart.”

Gaylene Stiles, Mercy Health's Mentor Coordiator, and
Barbara Royce, AFL-CIO Community Services Liaison at
United Way of Central Oklahoma
Realizing she loved little girls, too, she designed a second chapter of her life, i.e., talking to young girls and women about self and their potential. 

Drawing from her own childhood, Wanda knew that she and her mother were close, but her mother had issues. A broken woman, she had worked herself to the bone rather than focusing on self to realize her potential.

Wanda talks to girls and women about who they are and who they want the world to know they are. 

To girls and young women, pregnant and unmarried or not, Wanda shows paths and processes to be successful.

“It’s not what you do but how you do it even if you have a job at McDonald’s or elsewhere,” she told the audience.

As an illustration, Wanda clasped her hands. "We’ve been clasping hands this way all of our lives. If we do it differently, after a while it feels normal," she stated.

The sacrifices she made help her touch lives—of little boys, single moms, and others as a career coach.

Anthony, her older son who works for a nonprofit, mentors in California in a group home. Kevin mentors.

Dedicated to the lives of children, Wanda reminded us that we are all in a village. Growing and nurturing young people does take an entire village. She encouraged the audience to reach out and try to make an impact on a child.

  • Be who you are.
  • Know what you have to offer.
  • Give out who you are.

Wanda is involved in the Mothers of Professional Basketball Players Association and Foundation in addition to motivational speaking and other forms of mentoring and coaching. She also is a frequent visitor to Oklahoma and Thunder basketball games.  

After her presentation, Wanda Pratt stood tirelessly, patiently, and lovingly for many photos with guests. This magnanimity was greatly tested as she posed almost endlessly for 1,000's of photos on Oklahoma Mentor Day 2015, where she was the keynote speaker.

To learn more about the incredible, genuine Wanda, see her website or wait for another post!  

No comments:

Post a Comment