This is one show that just keeps getting better. Yes, you do need a box of tissues when you watch ABC’s “Secret Millionaire” but it’s a small price to pay to watch people helping people. “Secret Millionaire” is emotional, heart warming, joyful, and gives viewers ideas on how they can help out in their own communities.
The “Secret Millionaire’s” on this episode are Gary and Diane Heavin. Diane is co-founder of Curves, International and Gary is the CEO. This is the world’s largest fitness franchise according to Diane and last year they were quite successful with 2 billion dollars in revenue.
Both Diane and Gary want to understand how they can really make a difference in others lives and are looking forward to being the “Secret Millionaire” on this show. Diane admits that she’s not sure she understands poverty in this country but she finds out the answer during her time in the Third Ward.
They spend a week near Houston, Texas in what’s known as the “Third Ward” district. Gary grew up in Houston and remembers this area. He recalls that it was poor back then but not as impoverished as it is today. Currently, 20% of residents live in poverty and there’s an extremely high crime rate. The Third Ward is just 15 minutes from the affluent section of Houston.
No More Victims, Inc.
As the “Secret Millionaire’s” are food shopping on their first day in the Third Ward, a white van catches their attention with No More Victims, Inc. written on it. Diane wants to check it out as it has something to do with kids.
No More Victims, Inc. helps children who have one or more parents in jail. Diane and Gary meet Marilyn who explains the services that No More Victims provides. Marilyn is a former parole officer and her goal is to have violence stop with each and every one of the kids that’s enrolled in No More Victims.
Diane and Gary join Marilyn, or “Mama G” as she’s known to the families, to bring supplies and words of support to these families. This nonprofit offers counseling services to children to encourage them to talk about their pain instead of holding it in and becoming violent adults. Marilyn explains that they are ‘families for life’ and treats them as such.
On the “Secret Millionaire’s” second visit to No More Victims, Diane and Gary take part in a counseling session with the kids. They meet Warren who helps mentor these kids and who grew up in this area. Warren tells the kids that he was shot in high school and lifts a pant leg to show his scar. The reaction from some of these young kids is emotional. Warren explains to the kids that he’s here to help them out; that they have someone to talk to because he understands their pain and what they’re going through.
An emotional moment comes when Diane asks the children to tell her about some of the struggles they have at home. One little boy answers by saying that he’s very upset with his Dad because his Dad went to prison twice. “After the first time, wasn’t that enough?” this little boy asks. He then tells Diane how he’s had to take on responsibilities that his Daddy should be doing. It’s very overwhelming to see a young boy facing these types of struggles and questioning his Dad’s actions.
When the “Secret Millionaire’s” reveal themselves, they present a check for $50,000 to Marilyn to help this worthy organization. They also recognize how special Warren is and present a check for $10,000 to him to help him out while he’s going to school and mentoring these children.
To contact No More Victims, please call them at 832 922-0053 or email Marilyn Gambrell at [email protected]
The Lazarus House
This nonprofit is a wellness center to help people with chronic medical conditions by preventing muscle loss. It’s a non clinical program and the only one in Houston. Diane works with Boyd, one of the trainers while Gary helps paint the outside of the house. They both learn that many of the clients at the Lazaraus House are HIV positive. As people with HIV can now live a fairly long time, they need to exercise and keep strengthening their bodies. They come to The Lazarus House to do just that.
Diane and Gary learn that not much money is coming in to The Lazarus House as local banks don’t want to lend money to nonprofits. As I’m watching this, I’m wondering, ‘what are banks for?’ Currently, this nonprofit is renting their site and would like to purchase it but there’s no lender that will help them.
The “Secret Millionaire’s” identify themselves in the end and present a check for $100,000 to The Lazarus House. Hugs are given all around and with this donation, The Lazarus House is able to purchase the house to continue their programs.
Gary explains that when you “…see the evidence of giving, it’s a great experience.” Diane realizes that “Who cares how a person gets HIV. These are real people with dreams and they’re amazing.”
For more information on The Lazarus House, please call them at 713 526-5071 or email Danielle Samprey at [email protected]
The Sean Ashley House
This organization deals with autistic individuals and it’s the only organization in Houston of its kind. Autism affects 1 out of 110 children in this country and the disease is a ‘spectrum’ disease as Kelly, the Director tells our secret millionaires. The spectrum ranges from people who need little help to those who need constant care.
What we learn about the “Secret Millionaire’s” is that they have a 6 year old grandson who is autistic. Gary and Diane admit that they don’t really know much about the disease or how their grandson will fare in life. They are concerned and want to learn more.
Diane and Gary spend time playing with the children and they both found it to be a very emotional day. I’m sure that thoughts of their own grandson were weighing heavy on their minds. When they return a few days later, they join a group of autistic children and adults and visit a riding stable where everyone gets to ride a horse which is good therapy for autistic individuals.
The Sean Ashley House is very close to the hearts of our “Secret Millionaire’s” as they present a check for $250,000 to the staff. This experience helped them realize what type of life their autistic grandson may have and how important an organization like the Sean Ashley House is.
A very touching moment came when Diane presents Justin, one of the autistic individuals, with a pair of sunglasses. Justin had asked for a pair the other day while horseback riding, but there wasn’t a pair on hand. Justin grinned from ear-to-ear and thanked Diane over an over again. Such a simple gift for such a big smile. There’s a lesson in there somewhere…
If interested, please contact the Sean Ashley House at 713 667-6460 or email them at [email protected]
Source: ABC’s “Secret Millionaire”; April 3, 2011