NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — From East High School to Tennessee State University, Oprah Winfrey’s roots run deep in Nashville. So when it comes to supporting her home cities, Nashville was at the top of the list.
“I feel like Nashville gave me my great send off into the world, it was the foundation for who I am,” Oprah told News 2’s Stephanie Langston.
With that in mind, Oprah collaborated with Mount Zion Baptist Church and her alma mater Tennessee State University creating NashvilleNurtures, a $2 million dollar donation to provide immediate food relief to the underserved communities she says currently experiencing a disproportionate impact from the pandemic.
“It has impacted black and brown communities with a fierceness that others have not felt and so because of that I specifically wanted these funds to go specifically to the black and brown communities,” she explained.
Her gift, a $200 Kroger card given to feed more than 10,000 families.
“It reminds me of all those years I was doing favorite things on the show, so I would have done you get a card, you get a card,” she laughed.
The gift has changed lives for those in the heart of Nashville and provided hope at a time when everyone is searching for it.
“The folks who have received have just been changed forever and you know as well as I know, Nashville needs hope and Mrs. Winfrey’s generous contribution has provided so much hope in our city at this time,” said Bishop Walker with Mount Zion Baptist Church.
One of those stories shared by TSU’s president, Dr. Glenda Glover who went to school with Oprah.
“Lawanda Jackson has been displaced by the tornado that happened on March 3rd and her hours had been reduced and she just said there was no way she could make it and when she got this gift card she said she had hope again. Oprah brings hope to the city. She didn’t know where her next meal was coming from so she was just so thankful for everybody that made this happen, particularly to Ms. Whinfrey and so we have so many of those stories,” said Glover.
Oprah knows first hand what it’s like to remember as her family struggled to get by when she was a child. She recalled one Christmas when nuns showed up at her family’s front door with gifts.
“I was embarrassed by it, I was shamed by it and I never forgot those nuns who came to our rescue. Through all my work philanthropically and otherwise I try to remember the spirit of that, of giving back, what I was given at a time when I though we wouldn’t be remembered. They won’t forget that they were remembered and that was what this gift was all about,” said Oprah.
Oprah’s latest effort is just the beginning of bridging the gap in providing additional help and resources for those in underserved African American communities through NashvilleNurtures.
Oprah said she lives by the lyrics of one of her favorite songs, Bill Withers’ “Use Me.”
“So my question always for my personal philanthropic work is how can I be used? How can I be used in the communities I grew up, how can I be used in service now, and so right now the issue is food.”
For more information on NashvilleNurtures visit the website.
Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.