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Woodruff honored for making a difference


Throughout the years Mel Blount has made a difference in the lives of countless youth. He has touched those in the Pittsburgh area, as well as his hometown of Vidalia, Georgia. And he has done it because he has a love and passion for helping others, especially the youth in the community that don't have anyone there for them.

Blount operates the Mel Blount Youth Home in Claysville, Pa., a place where young males who are victims of abuse or neglect can go to grow into men through programs that stress education, hard work, discipline and dedication, all while providing the nurturing hand that "Mr. Mel" brings to their growth and development.

Former Steelers cornerback Dwayne Woodruff was honored at the 17th Annual Mel Blount Youth Home All-Star Celebrity Roast.

So it's only fitting that this year's honoree at the 17th Annual Mel Blount Youth Home All-Star Celebrity Roast is a man who has a similar passion, former Steelers cornerback Dwayne Woodruff.

Woodruff, or it should be said the Honorable Judge Dwayne Woodruff, played for the Steelers from 1979-90 and pursed his law degree at Duquesne University while he was still playing. After practicing law for over 10 years, he took the next step, and was elected a Judge in the Court of Common Pleas in Allegheny County. And his goal was to immediately help guide the youth that appeared before him in court.

"I had the opportunity to pick what court I wanted to preside," said Woodruff. "I picked family court. It's the busiest, but I feel it's the most important because it deals with our children, our families and our future. I wanted to be a part of that and add whatever I could to make sure our kids get on the right track. We all make mistakes, poor choices, some of us are just luckier than others. Fortunately we have a system here in Pennsylvania that allows for kids to not just be thrown out, or locked up. It allows us to balance and restore justice, hold them accountable, but be able to help them make a proper decision."

Woodruff, who is currently running for Supreme Court Justice in Pennsylvania, was roasted on Friday night, with some former teammates and friends sharing entertaining stories. But more importantly he was honored for what he has done for the Pittsburgh community and the impact he has made.

"It really is special to have Mel honor me," said Woodruff. "When I look at my teammates, and the Steelers as a whole, there are so many involved with the community and have been since day one. To be honored by Mel, our lockers were next to each other, just how he helped me and instructed me when I was coming up as a player, it means a lot. What he does for his community, what he did for Vidalia, Georgia, what he does here at the youth home, is amazing. When I got on the bench I saw even more the positive impact he has on children.

"It's an honor to be a part of the dinner and be honored at the program. I am happy to be in his company, someone that I see what he does to help the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and children and families."

Former teammate and fellow cornerback Ron Johnson was among those roasting him, and spoke highly of Woodruff.

"He was a real competitive guy," said Johnson of Woodruff. "He wanted to be on the field all of the time and compete all of the time. That made him a special player. He was smooth in the things he did on the field. He couldn't stand it when people caught the ball on him. If a receiver caught a ball on him he would be mad for a week, and I am not talking about touchdowns. I am talking about just catching the ball period. He couldn't stand for them to catch the ball."

Over two dozen former Steelers players and coaches, including John Stallworth, Franco Harris, and Mike Tomlin were on hand to help honor him and show their appreciation for one of their own.

"I consider the Steelers organization part of my family," said Woodruff. "When I came in 1979, there were people and players in the organization whose opinion I valued extremely high. When I have to make some tough decisions there are people that I call, all of them part of the Steelers organization, to get their opinions. It's like family to me. I get phone calls all of the time from different players, even their kids sometimes. They are part of my family, I treat them that way. They treat me that way. There is nothing but love for them."

The event, which simply started as a 50th birthday party Blount, is one of the main fundraising efforts for the Mel Blount Youth Home, helping them continue the programs they have in place.

"This is a huge part of our budget," said Blount. "We need these funds to continue to provide services for the kids we work with and take care of the responsibilities of running the program. We are in it every day and my name is on the door, so we want to make sure we provide the best we can."

About The Mel Blount Youth Home of PennsylvaniaIt is a multi-service treatment program for young males who are victims of child abuse and neglect. The Mel Blount Youth Home is situated on 300 acres of land located in Washington County. The Youth Home is surrounded by beautiful woods and fields, an outdoor equestrian center, walking trails, basketball court and fishing ponds. Our inter-disciplinary treatment program takes full advantage of community based agencies that provide children with an array of opportunities to experience success. Individual therapeutic techniques are used with the pre-adolescent such as play therapy activities, music therapy, reality therapy and anger management. All regular and special needs residents attend one of the McGuffey School District's elementary, middle or high schools, unless specified by their Individual Education Plan (IEP).

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