Joining Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority just might have led to one of the best decisions Drema Lee Woldman has ever made. Woldman recalled being invited to another member’s son’s party and the child was part of Top Teens of America, sponsored by Top Ladies of Distinction.
“I had never heard of them but was impressed by the event and that it provided scholarships and had a component for children,” said Woldman. Top Ladies of Distinction is a nonprofit professional humanitarian organization that organizes talents, energies and skills of women across the nation in a collaborative effort to alleviate moral and social problems confronting youth.
“In order for you to have a chapter, you have to sponsor a group of teens from 13 to 18 and implement a program that helps them with academic achievement, leadership skills and cultural enrichment,” said Woldman.
Over the years, Woldman worked her way up to becoming the national president of the organization. She strove to grow the organization, whose only qualification for membership is to have a desire to serve the community and be sponsored by a current top lady. There have been many memorable experiences, including a bullying program with the National Institutes of Health and a visit to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Many programs have become traditions, such as those with the March of Dimes, which has partnered with the organization since 1985, and St. Jude, who will be named a permanent partner at this year’s Atlanta conference.
Woldman is excited about what the future holds, including potential programs on Alzheimer’s and mental illness.
“We look in our neighborhoods, see what is happening and where there is a need, and we focus our impact, services and programs there,” said Woldman. A recent need was addressed through the Status of Women program that helps people get jobs and additional training if they lost work during the recession and did not have the skill set to return. Their goal is to return women to the workplace.
“We also have a community beautification program where we make sure our communities are beautiful through our nice partnership with Keep America Beautiful,” said Woldman.
This year is victorious as the organization celebrates 50 years of Top Teens in America in our very own city of Atlanta. Woldman is thrilled they are beginning a Top Teens Alumni Council that offers workshops, internships and scholarships and allows members to stay connected to the organization. There is an annual leadership conference in the fall and a biannual national convention.
“This is where new recommendations are made, new programs and initiatives are voted on, new officers are elected, and we invite our partners, projects and everybody we do business with,” said Woldman.
Woldman emphasizes the rewards of involvement.
“We are hands-on, so most of the volunteerism is one-on-one and you get instant gratification and can see the joy and happiness on someone’s face because of something you did,” said Woldman.
When Woldman is not busy with Top Ladies of Distinction, she enjoys spending time with her two daughters, two sons and five grandchildren. She loves gardening, playing Scrabble and watching television.
Though her time as the national president is ending, she assured us that she is not going anywhere. “I have to stick around to see that the things I started continue,” she said.
“It could be the smallest thing in the world that you did but that you care makes a world of difference to them.”