Richmond’s D’vondre Woodards Attends President’s State of the Union Address

Devonne Boggan (left), Director, City of Richmond Office of Neighborhood Safety joins D’vondre Woodards (center) and Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez) just before Miller and Woodards walked to the Capitol to listen to President Obama’s State of the Union. Miller had asked Boggan to select a Peacekeeper to attend the State of the Union as his guest.

U.S. Rep George Miller met Tuesday with D’vondre Woodards, a 22-year-old young man who grew up in Richmond and was Miller’s invited guest to President Obama’s State of the Union speech.
Woodards serves as a Senior Fellow as part of the City of Richmond Operation Peacemaker fellowship.
Miller, Woodards and other Peacekeeper fellows met for an hour before President Obama’s State of the Union Address. Peacekeepers shared their personal stories with Miller, including the reasons that compelled them to join the Peacekeepers program.
Miller encouraged the young men to stick with the program and congratulated them on their milestones.
Woodards shared with Miller that he just finished his first semester at Contra Costa Community College and hopes to attend Morehouse College or Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University to continue his studies.
He asked Miller about his path to becoming a Congressman. Miller explained that he, too, attended a local community college before attending San Francisco State University and University of California Davis.
Miller also spoke to the group about his work, expressing his concern about the gridlock in Congress.  “You know what they say, ‘politics is like war without the guns,’” he told the Peacemakers. “This is serious business that we engage in here – the American people win and lose based on what Congress is deliberating. Students will get money to help pay for school, or they won’t.’”
The primary purpose of the Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS) Peacemaker Fellowship is to save lives. The fellowship is designed to create a viable space for selected individuals ages 16-25 to contribute in a real way to building and sustaining community peace, health and well-being, with the express purpose of eliminating gun violence in Richmond.
Each member of Congress receives one ticket for a guest to sit in the visitors’ gallery of the House of Representatives to watch the speech,
Woodards has been involved with the Fellowship program for more than a year.  He has already achieved Senior Fellow status as a result of his willingness to work with rival neighborhood individuals to create peaceful resolutions to existing conflicts.  
He attends school and works. Raised in Richmond, Woodards credits the power and impact of the Fellowship opportunity and mentoring for his personal transformation.  He said that he now mentors young men in his community as a result of his appreciation for those people who mentored him at critical times in his life.

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