In memory of Kendria and Kayla Woods, youth from throughout the area participated in the fourth annual K & K Woods Youth Conference held Saturday at New Salem Missionary Baptist Church at Sherrill.
According to Vaccarlo Allen, one of the conference organizers, the conference was started as a way to honor the memory of the sisters, members of New Salem, who were killed in a car accident on Feb. 6, 2009.
Speakers for the conference included Deaquanita Lancelin of First Baptist Church at Pine Bluff; Aaron Johnson, pastor of Liberty Hill Baptist Church at Pine Bluff; Kenetta Hill-Ridgell and Kymara Hill-Seals, both of Breath of Life Church at Pine Bluff; Dr. Tracy Dunbar of Old St. James Baptist Church at Pine Bluff; Alisha Jackson of Mt. Olive Baptist Church at Pine Bluff, Leaudra Sanders and Kim Fox.
During the conference, presenters addressed topics such as “Who am I? I am somebody in Christ”, “The Power of Association”, “Setting and Achieving Goals”, and “Who’s looking at me? How to set the right example.”
New to this year’s conference was a session entitled, “Seizing the Moment,” where parents who have lost children spoke on how to cope with losing a child.
Robin Woods vividly recalls the day she received the phone call that forever changed the lives of her and her husband, Kenny.
Robin said it was a busy Friday at work for her. So busy that she had lost track of time and received a call from her daughters saying that they were preparing to head to Dumas for a friend’s basketball game. Not long after speaking with her daughters, Robin said she received a call that they had been involved in an accident.
“I called my husband and told him that I had gotten a call that Pooh had been in a wreck and I told him to come and pick me up,” she said. But because she could not immediately leave her job, Robin said her husband went ahead to Dumas without her.
After speaking with her husband, Robin said a friend of hers, who was also on the way to the game at Dumas, called and said she could not open the window or the door to Kendria’s car.
“I told her to take a brick or something and knock the window out,” Robin said.
As time went on and calls steadily came to Robin’s phone, she said she still had not been able to leave work.
“I got a call from a man and he said, ‘You don’t know me, but are you the parent of the children that had a wreck?’ He said, ‘your daughter, Kendria has passed,” she said.
Robin said she then inquired of the whereabouts of her younger daughter, Kayla.
“He said she was in the ambulance. I asked him to tell someone to get in the ambulance with her because they were scared of the hospital,” she said.
Robin said by this time, she had asked a neighbor to drive her to Dumas. She said the traffic to Dumas was at a standstill and they had difficulty getting through. But with assistance from an Arkansas state trooper, she arrived at the hospital at Dumas to a throng of people awaiting her.
“All this time I was still patient and calm. I never did cry. My concern was to try to get to Kayla because I knew she was going to be scared,” Robin recalled.
Once inside the hospital, Robin was advised of the efforts to save her daughter, but even then, she said she still did not cry.
“I was so in shock. I left the hospital and stopped by the car because I wanted to see the car and I got their personal belongings.”
Even though their lives were cut short, Robin said her daughters lived good lives.
“Kendria was a daddy’s girl. She was the oldest but she whined all the time. She was like a baby,” she said.
“When Kendria started driving, you would never see one without the other. Kendria would have to take Kayla everywhere she had to go.”
Kayla was in the ninth grade when the accident occurred and Robin said she regrets that Kayla did not get a chance to go to high school.
“She was so excited about going to high school,” Robin said.
K & K legacy
Robin said her pastor, Rev. Clark Thomas, has been very instrumental in helping to ensure the legacy of her children lives on. One way is through the Kayla Woods Award, which is presented each May to a Jack Robey Junior High School band student with good grades and good behavior.
“Both my kids were in the band,” Robin said.
The K&K Woods Scholarship is also awarded each year during the annual youth conference. Scholarship applicants must have at least a 2.3 grade point average, be active in their church with a letter of support from a pastor or youth leader, show proof of enrollment in a college or university, and write an eight to 10-sentence statement on why education is important to them.
Robin said on her girls’ birthdays and during the conference, she also passes out balloons or pencils with their names on them, bracelets with crosses or bags with their picture on them.
Robin said after the tragic accident that claimed the lives of her daughters, she didn’t sleep for about four weeks.
“For a long time I didn’t cry. My mom and friend stayed with me for a whole year,” Robin recalled. “For a long time, every morning I would go in Kendria’s room and turn on the radio and open the shades in her room.”
Robin said that it has been with the help of God that she is learning to cope with life without her children.
“God has gotten me through this, as well as Rev. Thomas, my church family and my family. Otherwise, I probably would have lost my mind,” she said.
“Right now I do have bad days. Some Sundays I can’t even sit through church without crying but the people at our church really, really support us.”
Robin said that eventful day, “changed our lives completely. I had to try to get used to our house all over again. About five or six months ago, I just got used to them not being there (at home),” she said. “Even getting used to cooking for just two people … it’s been a big adjustment.”