Oprah announced a $12 million donation for COVID-19 relief efforts across the country Wednesday, and $5 million of that will go to Chicago organizations helping communities of color disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
ABC7's Cheryl Burton had the chance to talk with Oprah about the new effort and what moved her to action.
"It is our essential work to give back. That's essential work," Oprah said. "That's what's touched my heart, is to know that you don't have all this to not use where you are and what you have to try to share it with other people. I'm sharing it now because I want other people to step up. Because this is a long haul."
Oprah's donation will support Live Healthy Chicago, an initiative that provides families in predominately African-American and Latinx communities, known to face an elevated risk of severe symptoms, immediate support in the form of wellness visits, contact tracing and care packages by building the capacity of organizations that are on the front lines in the fight against this pandemic today while also invested in the long term recovery of these communities.
"One of the things that I wanted to do was to give back directly into the black community and also understand for myself that the essential service for people that have means, no matter who you are or what those means are, the essential work for us is to recognize that in this moment, the people who have been the essential workers for us all and have shown us united in ways that we didn't even know, that it is our essential work to give back," Oprah said.
Oprah said she was inspired by what she saw happening in the city that gave her so much. It was important to support those fighting the pandemic on the front lines.
"That came together because I wanted to give back something to Chicago and because Chicago has been so great to me and for all the years that I spent there and I wanted to be able to get it directly into the hands of the community."
The business mogul and philanthropist has spent her life giving back, she calls it her passion. In 2013, when she was honored with the presidential medal of freedom at the white house we talked about the responsibility of giving back and helping those in need. For her it's been a life-long goal. So, this latest act of service is close to her heart
"People are going to be suffering for a long time and so this is just the beginning for me and I want to encourage other people to use what you have to do what you can," Oprah said.
Oprah reached out to community organizations to best support Chicago, and in response, helped institute a collaboration between West Side United, Rush University Medical Center, the MAAFA Redemption Project, My Block My Hood My City and Forty Acres Fresh Market.
The remaining $7 million will go to support underserved communities in Oprah's other "home cities" of Nashville, Milwaukee and Kosciusko, Mississippi.