He's a world-renowned performer who has made his dreams a reality, and through his charitable work, he's making dreams come true for others as well. Dr. Oz welcomes vocal artist, education activist and motivational speaker Wintley Phipps to the show. Wintley talks about life's blessings and his work as the founder and president of the U.S. Dream Academy, an after-school program dedicated to helping at-risk children.
Wintley says he is fortunate to have lived a blessed life and fulfilled his childhood dreams. He's traveled the globe, performed for presidents and dignitaries, and won numerous accolades for his music and philanthropic work. He credits much of his success and good fortune to a higher power. "I've never had a manager, I've never had an agent, but I've had what I call hook-ups from heaven," he says.
Over the years, Wintley says he has felt the hand of God at work in his life. One such divine intervention happened 26 years ago when Wintley met a 20-something news anchor in Baltimore. Wintley says the young woman was worried about losing her job and whether or not she would succeed in her career, so he invited her over to talk. Speaking from his heart, Wintley counseled the woman, saying, "God has impressed me to tell you he's going to bless you and give you an opportunity to speak to millions of people." That woman was Oprah Winfrey.
Years later, in January 2007, Oprah invited Wintley to speak at the grand opening ceremony of The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls—South Africa. For Wintley, it was a full-circle moment. "Me being there and being asked to speak at the opening was a special moment for me that she would remember that role that I had been able to play in her life," he says.
For over a decade, Wintley has been committed to making an impact in the lives of many underprivileged children as the president and founder of the U.S. Dream Academy. After performing for inmates at a number of prisons, Wintley says he wanted to do something to break the cycle of intergenerational incarceration. So he created the Dream Academy, a non-profit organization that brings tutoring and mentoring after school to children of prisoners and other children falling behind in their coursework.
The Dream Academy features a customized online curriculum to increase reading, math, English comprehension and proficiency. More importantly, Wintley says the Dream Academy focuses on building relationships between children and their mentors. "You have to increase the density of loving, caring adults in the life orbit of these children," he says. "There's just no substitute for love and caring."
Printed from Oprah.com on Friday, December 6, 2013