I've been an Oprah fan...ever since she came to Chicago. I wasn't crazy about her "Jerry Springer" shows at first, but I gave her a chance and she changed her format. I was so excited to be part of her Angel Network. I remember once, a dear friend bought me an "Angel" flannel nightgown and put it by my door to surprise me. This was a Karen Neuberger nightgown. Oprah and Neuberger joined forces to collect a portion of all sales to benefit kids around the world and to build houses in poor areas of our country. In a 1997 episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, Oprah invited viewers to join her in using their lives to improve the lives of others. What began as a campaign to encourage viewers to collect spare change evolved into the charity known as Oprah’s Angel Network. That was when I started collecting my spare change...it was sent to this cause. Through donations, the Angel Network was able to award funds to hundreds of organizations throughout the United States and in more than 30 countries around the world, building schools, sending millions of dollars for school supplies, helping when disasters hit...Katrina to name one.
She helped me enjoy reading a little more. I always enjoyed reading, but while watching her show...I really took time to read in my busy day. I think that I read something from a book each day and still do. Her book club was so much fun for me. This friend of mine would call after the show to see when I was going out to buy the book. We had to get the book during the first couple of days, or take a chance that the bookstores would be out of them. Some of these books were not to our liking. We would call each other..."How far are you? Wait till you get to page 289. This book is so boring, but I have to finish it." were a few of our comments. Oprah would introduce a new book..."Here is a summer read. A fascinating book. I couldn't put it down. I read it in one sitting." and that was all it took to get us to the book store over and over again. She would have the author on the show and a few readers...there would be a discussion of the book at the end. They would sometimes gather in some one's home or around the table eating a meal while talking about the book. I looked forward to those discussions and found that sometimes I would reread parts of the book...after hearing someone's critique. When my book club days were over, I donated the stacks of books to our little library in town.“Oprah’s Surprise Spectacular” this included a giveaway. When 13,000 people at the United Center stood in tribute to Oprah Winfrey and the power of reading – each holding a brand new children’s book to be donated to a child in need through First Book. Surprises don’t get much better than that! Instead of her donating the books...the members of the audience brought books to give to libraries in need.
Education became her goal for everyone. She was the teacher's biggest fan. She is responsible for putting thousands of kids through school. Little kids who never owned anything...now had a book to call their own.
We all had our gratitude journals during her time on the air. I would write good things about each day in this journal. I wish that I had kept it. No matter how terrible the day was...I had to find three things that were good about the day. Sarah Ban Breathnach was a regular on the show at that time. I still have her book...Simple Abundance...a Daybook of Comfort and Joy. It's a book for each day of the year. As the days go by, you come to the end of the month and read a list of joyful simplicities for that month. I always thought that the month should start with this list, but I didn't write the book. I read it still...it's on my bedside table to this day.
I could go on and on and tell about shows that particularly touched me...but those are shows that I alone will remember and there's not room for all of them here. The last three days have found me in front of my TV enjoying watching this woman celebrating her TV life with all of her friends.
Yesterday's show was not what I expected..she stood alone on her set and just talked to us...her many fans. She spoke about us really knowing ourselves and finding something to do that will fulfill us and help others. She has pioneered for women, children, and the disabled...
She's one of my heroes..