A local woman got the shock of a lifetime when she was a participant in the popular television program “Oprah’s Favorite Things.”
The program reveals Oprah Winfrey’s must-haves for the holiday season and gives them away to the unsuspecting audience.
Apex resident Catherine Woyee-Jones, was asked to participate in the event after she was recognized as one of the 2012 finalists for the Military Spouse of the Year, a contest sponsored by Armed Forces Insurance in the Military Spouse Magazine.
Although Woyee-Jones did not win, magazine officials contacted her and told her she won a trip to Washington, D.C. for a Harpo production.
Initially, Woyee-Jones did not believe she would be able to meet the famous Winfrey, but soon after arrival she learned she would not only meet Winfrey but would also appear on the Favorite Things special.
Woyee-Jones said she was surprised when she realized that she made it on the television program.
“I felt shocked, blessed and amazed,” said Woyee-Jones. I’m a firm believer in living on purpose and you are rewarded in due time. It felt like that was the time.”
Winfrey gave Woyee-Jones and other participants a trip to Fiji, designer handbags, an elliptical machine, R Nichols Candles, tequila, a Tempurdeic mattress and other great items. The episode aired on November 18.
Woyee-Jones said she could not remember all the items that she received from Winfrey.
“There’s so many I have lost count,” Woyee-Jones said.
Woyee-Jones said she was extremely touched by Winfrey’s generosity and said she was extremely thankful for what she did for the military spouses.
However, officials with Military Spouse magazine, the company who sponsored the initial contest, said they are thankful for Woyee-Jones and the other military spouses and what they are doing to help soldiers.
“We cannot imagine a more deserving group of military spouses than the ones who are representing their branches and changing the entire community each and every day for the better,” said Babette Maxwell, Executive Editor for Military Spouse magazine.
Woyee-Jones was nominated for the 2012 Military Spouse of the Year by one of her neighbors.
Woyee-Jones is the founder and executive director of HUUMAN Initiative, Healthy Young Bodies and Minds.
“Through this organization I use my own weight loss experience to change the lives of our youth and service member’s children around the country by providing free healthy living services to girls between the ages of 12-18 and their families,” said Woyee-Jones.
However, her work with the organization does not end there. She organized the first annual Veterans Day 5k in Apex in 2011.
“It has grown so much that we have to change the location to a larger trail in 2013,” said Woyee-Jones. “Proceeds go to help homeless veterans through the Raleigh and Durham Rescue Mission.”
Woyee-Jones also assists her 10-year-old daughter with her letter writing campaign every year. They have collected over 3,500 letters, through Team Attraction Gymnastics, Thales Academy, The Apex Youth Council and several local businesses and schools. The letters are then sent to Kuwait, Afghanistan and Walter Reed Army Hospital.
That is not the only work that Woyee-Jones does with the military. She is also the Wake Area Chapter Director for Blue Star Families.
“Our goal is to support, connect and empower military families,” said Woyee-Jones. “We regularly survey military families to keep our civilian and military leaders informed about top issues. We also connect to help fellow military families and the larger community through programs likes Operation Appreciation, Operation Honor Card, Blue Star Theatres, Blue Star Museums, MilKidz Club and Books On Bases.
“We also provide suicide prevention information, reintegration toolkits and resume builder and our military family life survey.”
Woyee-Jones said the things she does for the military isn’t work. Instead, she views it as more of an extension of her education, professional and military life experience.
“I’ve been a spouse for almost 12 years,” said Woyee-Jones. “Programs like Military Spouse Magazine or Blue Star Families were not around for me to look to when I felt discouraged and overwhelmed. I now know it’s my duty to inspire those who are marrying into military life, educate them and encourage them to embrace our lives, even if it’s only on borrowed time.”
Woyee-Jones said she was extremely thankful for what Winfrey did for the military families. She described Winfrey as amazing and personable, but after meeting Winfrey she said does not plan to sit back and take a break from serving military families.
“She (Winfrey) has inspired me even more than I thought she could,” said Woyee-Jones.