Oprah Celebrates Hometown Heroes Who Help Others: Inspiration to Assist People in Need Takes an Idea and Action

The Oprah Winfrey Show, broadcast on ABC, feature Hometown Heroes on the May 19, 2009 episode. The Oprah Show, along with People Magazine, celebrated random acts of kindness and acts that are not so random. Everyday people have been inspired with ideas to help marginalized people to get through tough economic times. The Oprah Show told the story of people how help with medical care, houses in foreclosure, cars, bedding for the homeless, soup for the hungry, home heating and shelter.

ECHO Health Clinic

Dr. Oz visited ECHO Health Clinic in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, which was founded by Dr. Bell. The doctor and a volunteer staff transform a church gymnasium into a full service medical center twice a month. Described as “not high tech, but high touch,” by Dr. Oz; the free clinic provides medical care, prescriptions, counseling and hot meals. There are 46 million people in American without health insurance coverage, so this is an idea that could benefit many communities.

Foreclosure Angels

A Dallas woman was inspired to help another woman whose house as in a foreclosure auction but purchasing her house for $30,000 and giving it back to her. This was the origin of Foreclosure Angels, started by Hometown Hero Marilyn Mock. According to Marilyn, she attended a foreclosure auction with her son, saw a woman crying and asked her what was wrong. As first the woman did not want to talk, and Marilyn thought she was snobby, but she persisted and learned the woman’s house was in the auction. Marilyn did not have $30,000 on hand, but she did have a dump truck. She took a loan out on the truck to raise the money to purchase the house, which she gave back to the woman. This was the start of Foreclosure Angels. According to Marilyn, many people need only about $600 to $2000 to keep a roof over their head and keep the homes they have worked so hard for. Marilyn Mock also stated that anyone can become a Foreclosure Angel.

Hometown Heroes

Anyone can help people in need by keeping their eyes open and being open to the inspiration to do so. Oprah featured more Hometown Heroes, including the following:


  • Hal Colston of Burlington, Vermont; founded Good News Garage to provide donated cars to people in need.
  • Dale Dunning of Lewes, Delaware; has served over 65,000 bowls of soup to hungry people over the past 11 years with the Jusst Sooup Ministry.
  • Von “Dallas” Gigrich, of Lake Forest Park, Washington; provides heating oil from old oil tanks so people can heat their homes during the winter months, with HEAT.
  • Tim and Nancy Nicolai have a 26 room motel in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The couple provides shelter and free meals in some of the motel rooms, helping hundreds of people.
  • Mary Marzano, of Maplewood, New Jersey, collects gently used bedding from hotels and ships it to homeless shelters with Green Recoverings.

Oprah Winfrey stated that she hoped the show would inspire other people to look for ways to help others in need. People in need are all around. Thinking about how to help others may spark the inspiration for a ministry that can help one person. or help hundreds of people.

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