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our atlanta ultimate day “o” service by priscilla nelson

There are many people who believe that no good comes from television, but this story just may turn that line of thinking upside down. For millions of people all over the world, The Oprah Winfrey Show was much more than a TV show – it was a bridge between cultures, a window into therapy and an exploration of the best and worst of human behavior. Most of all, the show was a symphony of lessons that shaped the lives of viewers for 25 years.

I raised my daughter, Avalon, using nuggets of wisdom from Oprah and her many inspiring guests. However, I could never have guessed that we would someday be part of an audience that Oprah would whisk to the other side of the world for the trip of a lifetime. After 10 days of gourmet meals, amazing experiences and VIP treatment, the group of 302 lucky Ultimate Viewers began to brainstorm about ways to express their sincere gratitude for Oprah’s kindness and generosity.

There was no shortage of suggestions – including talk of custom jewelry pieces – but one idea from Ultimate Viewer Tamika Longino really made an impact – and stuck. What if we participated in a day of service that would benefit both people and animals? An Ultimate Day “O” Service!

Everyone agreed that Tamika’s idea of giving back in this way was exactly the type of “thank you” gift that Oprah would love. So a thought morphed into a movement, spawning Ultimate Day “O” Service (UDOS) projects across the country.

As a professional artist, I have gifted numerous murals during my 30-year career. I had been in talks with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) to donate a mural, and thought this was the perfect opportunity to include UDOS and celebrate the one-year anniversary of a moment that will bond 302 grateful Ultimate Viewers forever.

My mural design was primarily inspired by the location – a dark courtyard in need of vibrancy, happiness and hope. I chose a garden theme to blend with the landscaping while introducing bold colors and whimsical creatures like frogs, butterflies, lizards and ladybugs. I spent about three weeks prepping – sketching and, with the help of Raymond Kuma, priming. Ultimate Viewer Keisha Kuma organized an amazing group of volunteers – Tamika and Cornell Longino; Caitlin Seaton; Jan A. Johnson; Gary Rhymer; Karen Shawn; Mercy Mungah; Nikki and Shantia Kerr; Amy Dodds; Akil Johnson; Brianna Lesnick; Jan Lowery; Karen Bockrath Ferguson, Lisa Lipkins-Hill – who painted the larger elements of the mural.  Tamika Longino, the creator and executive editor of Bella Flowers Books, also donated books to each of CHOA’s libraries.

Now, as the paint dries, Oprah moves from The Oprah Winfrey Show to OWN, and Australia becomes more accessible in the minds of westerners, a group of Ultimate Viewers remembers how a television show inspired them to give something meaningful to children who are forced to spend time away from the comforts of home – and some who may never return to those comforts.

This Ultimate Day “O” Service started out as a tribute to Oprah but, after seeing the happy faces of the children this morning, all of us who participated feel like we’ve been given a special gift as well.

Read about the previous Atlanta Ultimate Day “O” Service here.


  1. Caitlin Rumpf says:

    I love reading these thoughtful postings. It keeps me connected among this great group while I am so withdrawn from any kind of life outside this house, at the moment. This special group of Oprah-ites have a strong common thread and there is no doubt that each of us will (and already have) ‘pay it forward’ and will inspire others to follow suit. This is the kind of ‘epidemic’ I like to see spread! Keep the communication going! I thank you for your efforts. God bless. Caitlin

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