- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 9, 2016

Oprah Winfrey made a surprise donation of $1 million Thursday to N Street Village, a D.C. charity that houses homeless women and helps them to get off drugs and back into society.

“Intention determines what will come back,” said Miss Winfrey, the keynote speaker at the 10th Annual Empowerment Luncheon at the District’s Ritz-Carlton.

The media mogul said that everyone she has interviewed throughout her career — presidents, diplomats, celebrities, murderers, victims or even regular people — always asked her the same thing at the conclusion of an interview, “Was that all right?”

“There is a thread throughout all of us as humans: ‘Did you hear me?’” Miss Winfrey told the audience. “‘And did what I say mean anything to you?’ Every argument you’ve ever had, it’s never about the things you think [it is], it’s about ‘Did you hear me?’”

The crowd came to its feet as Miss Winfrey announced her million-dollar donation to N Street Village, which provides shelter, counseling and recovering programs to homeless and low-income women battling addiction, mental illness or other difficult circumstances.

According to the center, 58 percent of those they help are age 50 or older; most are black and battling some form of mental disease. More than three-in-five who show up at The Village’s door have no income at all.

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D.C. native Lolita Mitchell is a Village success story. A former crack addict, she told the crowd about watching Miss Winfrey’s show when the founder of cable TV’s OWN was but a little-known TV personality in Chicago.

When she returned to the nation’s capital, Ms. Mitchell told her friends that she believed Miss Winfrey was going to be a major success. Meeting Miss Winfrey in person brought her own narrative full circle, said Ms. Mitchell, who proudly related she has been sober for years and has held a job for 20 months without missing a day of work.

N Street Village alumna Lynda Rush introduced Miss Winfrey. Ms. Rush now works at the Department of Behavioral Health, helping other women find housing and make changes in their own lives. 

The Village says that more than 93 percent of its mentally ill residents maintain a semblance of psychological stability, and more than 95 percent maintain sobriety.

“What I love about N Street is that every staff member understands the principle that every woman who comes to that front door wants to know their life matters,” Miss Winfrey said during her speech. “Not only does your life matter, but the circles that are formed [are] unbroken circles of life we were all born to form.”

Miss Winfrey, a self-made billionaire, has been successful beyond anything she might have dreamed as a poor, pregnant teenager in Mississippi who had suffered sexual abuse as a girl at the hands of a relative.

While her vast fortune is “certainly good,” she maintains that, for her, “success” is being able to “stand in the truth of yourself. Have a sense of contentment with what you do and [be] in service to your community that brings meaning to yourself and others.”

She then channeled her late friend, Maya Angelou, who once told her that “your legacy is every life you touch.”

In addition to her fiscal donation, Miss Winfrey imparted the crowd some wisdom from Martin Luther King Jr., who said “not everybody can be famous, but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.”

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