Oprah Winfrey is one of the most recognized women in the world, and after 25 years the “Queen of Talk” has said good-bye to daytime TV with her Ultimate Farewell Season. Famous for her generosity, Oprah’s Favorite Things has been a hit for more than a decade, so to land a seat in the studio audience for the final season was the ultimate experience for any Oprah fan.
Shawn Long of Atlanta, Ga. was one of the fortunate few to be a guest on Oprah’s Ultimate Favorite Things show, which aired on Nov.19. Saving the best for the farewell season, Oprah’s audience members were showered with fragrances, gadgets, unique and expensive gifts.
“It was one of the most exciting times in my life,” said Long. “Everyone there was so nice; it was 24 hours of happiness for me, something I really, really needed.”
Long’s journey to The Oprah Winfrey Show began on a dark and painful road. Long has three daughters – her oldest, 24-year-old Tiffany Hulsey, was a victim of domestic violence. Long said Tiffany’s young life ended on May 11 when her boyfriend killed her, then took his own life, the tragedy playing out in front of Hulsey’s two daughters, 5 and 1. Now, Long and her husband Kelly are raising their two grandchildren.
Months after the tragedy, Long’s sister wanted to do something to lift her sister’s spirits so she shared Long’s story with The Oprah Winfrey Show. She was selected, for what she thought was a segment about people who had given back to help others. After Long and her sister Sherrie Reimherr flew to Chicago for a taping on Nov. 16, they learned it was really for Oprah’s Ultimate Favorite Things. After 24 hours of pampering, the two returned to Georgia with a number of gifts, including a Philip Stein watch, framed in diamonds and worth thousands of dollars.
One morning, while listening to “The Fish” WFSH 104.7 radio morning show, Long heard the on-air host talk about the need in Haiti, and the homebuilding work Food For The Poor is doing there. Moved with compassion, Long said she had to help, but with funds tight, she remembered the watch, called the radio station and donated it to the charity.
“We had a very rough year, and it has been hard on all of us, but in the end we have a home, we have food, and we have each other. God has blessed us, and we wanted to do something to bless someone who doesn’t have anything. I sincerely wish I could do more,” Long said.
Long went on to say she’s grateful to Oprah for giving her the beautiful time piece, but once she realized she could help a suffering family have a home, parting with the gift was easy.
So how will this watch be transformed into a shelter and hope for the future? Food For The Poor will auction the Philip Stein at its annual “Fine Wine and Hidden Treasures Gala” at the Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla. on Jan. 30, 2011. Money from the auctioned watch will build a new two-room concrete block house with sanitation, and so much more for a family in Haiti.
“We are blessed and moved by this beautiful and selfless gift Mrs. Long has donated to Food For The Poor to further our efforts to help the suffering in the world,” said Angel Aloma, Executive Director of Food For The Poor. “We are humbled that during this time of the year when the pain of the loss of her daughter is probably at its greatest, she has room in her heart to remember the less fortunate.”
Food For The Poor, the third-largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian agency provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.