Delphine Warren Woolridge is small in stature but she more than makes up for it in heart, especially in her job as a voter registration and election clerk.
The Orangeburg County employee is soft-spoken and mild-mannered, traits that serve her well whether she is registering voters, training poll managers or educating the public on what she considers one of their most important civic duties.
It is the integrity with which she carries out her beliefs and actions that has earned Woolridge designation as the exemplification of “honor” by the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative.
On receiving the recognition, Woolridge said, “It was breathtaking, and then the tears just started flowing because they thought of me in such a way. I was just honored, but my daily thing is to just put my heart into my work and motivate people."
It is not always easy doing the honorable thing, but Woolridge says it is worth the effort.
“Treating others the way you want to be treated even if they’re having an off moment is one thing I have taken from my heavenly father’s teachings. Instead of being judgmental, be nice and kind because that could change their spirit at anytime," she said.
Woolridge said she enjoys registering voters and visiting venues, including schools and churches, to do other public relations work. Preparing poll workers for elections, which can include the occasional tweak of electronic voting machines, is something she takes seriously, she said.
“I want poll managers to feel, ‘Well, she’s the person I can ask questions of,’ and not feel like they’re dumb or that the training is just too much," Woolridge said.
She added, “They are able to call you on the phone or come by to get the training on a laptop. They can get the understanding of the new laws and rules. All of that matters.”
A little firmness never hurts either, though, because rules and regulations still matter, Woolridge said.
“We’re going to back you but we’re also going to tell you what’s right and wrong. You have to have the sweetness but also the firmness to carry out the duties of your job,” she said.
Woolridge said self respect and a willingness to learn new things have helped her perform her duties with honor.
“You have to make the time to learn so you can share what you’ve learned with somebody else. God knows all the different things on my plate, and I ask him to give me perspective to put things in order,” she said.
The divorced mother of one son said she has tried to instill good character in her only child, Tyler, who will graduate from Alabama State University in May.
“The first thing his father and I taught him was to be steadfast in who you are. Know yourself and follow the teachings of Jesus,” Woolridge said.
She said another nugget of truth she shares with her son is, “If you don’t have nothing to say about a person, keep your mouth shut and just pray in your heart for God to better them and yourself."
Woolridge said she honors the values she displays in her work as a county employee.
"In our department, our motto is to serve and educate the county of Orangeburg. Voting is a right we should be honored to have. I’m grateful to know that there are others who are working to help people understand the importance,” she said.