Tidewater Community College alumna Rickkita Taylor says the three minutes she spent on “Ellen” were life changing.
Not only did she get to meet DeGeneres, the star of the show, she received $10,000 for her family and another $10,000 the charity she runs.
“Meeting Ellen and being in the room with all of that energy was an amazing experience,” said Taylor, who graduated with an Associate of Science in Business Administration in 2013. “She’s very sweet and has an amazing heart.”
Taylor was surprised to learn that Ellen was pretty normal.
“She was genuine and very smiley and upbeat,” Taylor said. “We talked during commercial breaks, and she was interested in what we are doing to serve the community.”
Taylor sent several letters to Ellen beginning in April as the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up. She wrote about the nonprofit she started, Sisters Healing Sisters.
“I started the charity in 2018 because just a few years ago I was that sister in need,” she said. The single mom of two was without a job or home.
Sisters Healing Sisters, run entirely by volunteers, provides meals and outreach programs for women in need. The goal is to educate, empower and elevate women.
Taylor used her savings and scraped by on last year’s grants and donations for most of 2020. The donation from DeGeneres helps the group serve even more people.
Throughout the pandemic, Sisters Healing Sisters has regularly delivered meals and hygiene items to a local women’s shelter. They also provide groceries and hotel vouchers for homeless families.
While Taylor ended up losing her job due to the pandemic, she never stopped serving. “I had a lot of bills piling up, but my faith in God kept me grounded and kept me going,” she said.
“I understand that it’s not about me. It’s about my purpose, which is to help other people,” she added. “Even though it’s been tough, if I can help someone else, that helps me.”
Taylor is now a real estate agent and back in school for her bachelor’s in social work at Norfolk State University. She hopes to open a transitional home for those in need.
Taylor is thankful to all of the organizations and people who support Sisters Healing Sisters.
“It’s been two years, and we are going strong,” she said. “We are all absolutely committed to the mission and not letting anything slow us down.”