Article written by: Corey Buchanan, February 3, 2021. More about Wilsonville Rotary’s Heart of Gold celebration and Silent Auction can be found here. www.wilsonvilleheart.com
Aaron Woods has lived in Wilsonville for 25 years and been an active volunteer in the community for much of the last decade.
But in the last couple years, his efforts and perspective have taken on a heightened significance.
A few months before racial injustice and police brutality became topics of national conversation, Woods helped start a group dedicated to fostering an inclusive community. He then joined an informal outfit tasked with planning the formation of a standing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee and has frequently offered his own perspective at Wilsonville City Hall and other venues on what it’s like to live in Wilsonville as a Black man.
He’s also continued his role on the Wilsonville Planning Commission and was named to the Clackamas Community College Board of Education.
According to those who have worked with him, Woods brings a level head, a positive attitude and a commitment to act on his beliefs. It’s for all these reasons that Woods was named a finalist for the Rotary Club of Wilsonville’s First Citizen award, given annually to an impactful volunteer in the community. Heart of the City Director Lyn Whelchel and Charbonneau volunteer Elaine Swyt have also been named finalists. The winner will be chosen during a virtual gathering Feb. 25.
“Aaron Woods’ character and background and what he offers to our community stands alone. It speaks for itself,” said Chelsea King, a West Linn-Wilsonville School Board member who helped start the Wilsonville Alliance for Inclusive Communities with Woods. “I have long looked for increased representation of people in our community and some of these high-profile events, and so I think it’s overdue that we recognize members from underrepresented groups — and his achievements and value stand alone.”
Woods came to Wilsonville after getting a job offer from Tektronix back in 1996. He then worked for Xerox for many years before retiring.
His first stint in local government consisted of two terms on the city’s Development Review Board. He served on the board for six years before moving to the Planning Commission.
“I found that volunteering for the city, for the DRB, expanded my knowledge but also allowed me to use the experience I had from the business sector to contribute to help the city to move forward,” he said.
In 2019, he also helped start the Wilsonville Wellness Fair, which combined the Holistic Health Fair and Community Health Fair into one event.
Woods has previously told the Spokesman and stated in other venues that he has experienced racial profiling from local police and injustice throughout his life. And yet, as Wilsonville resident Brian Everest has noticed, this hasn’t seemed to embitter him, but instead motivated him to push for better days. Woods described himself as a “glass-half-full” person.
“That optimism is infectious. He has this pure-of-heart desire for everyone to lift together,” Everest said.
Additionally, Woods is on the board of the National Cristina Foundation, which provides refurbished technology for those in need. He said their work is more important now than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic and he hopes to help expand broadband access in Wilsonville.
“If you don’t have access to high-speed internet, you’re dead in the water. Last year really brought this to the forefront with COVID and kids needing access to high-speed broadband and a device in many cases to do their schoolwork,” he said.
For his part, Woods was surprised by his nomination, but said he has been happy living in Wilsonville and feels a part of the local community.
“I’ve been very happy with how they’ve embraced me and my family. It’s a tremendous feeling to know you are appreciated and people like you, truly like you,” he said.
Source: Thank you to Pamplin Media, Wilsonville Spokesman and Corey Buchanan so we could reprint this article in Charbonneaulive.com. 2.3.21