As Mr. Fred Rogers once famously said, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” One Memphis Uber driver took this sentiment to the next level when she got the idea to start delivering hot meals to overwhelmed COVID-19 nurses. And this generosity was repaid with an incredible reward from Jada Pinkett Smith, of all people.
Tammy Rivera, a single mother of two, was driving home an exhausted, hungry nurse home from an overnight shift at Germantown Methodist Hospital in early March, who asked if she could stop for some food on the way home. As the nurse explained, the hospital cafeteria closes in the evening and night shift nurses who didn’t bring their meals often had to go without food or scavenge vending machines.
Horrified at the thought of these front line heroes having to go without food, Rivera floated the idea of bringing meals to hospital workers on Facebook, and by the next day she had no shortage of people willing to donate money to help her.
Within two months, Rivera had hand-delivered 3,500 meals from locally-owned restaurants to the doctors and nurses at Germantown Methodist, but the only thing holding her back was her old, unreliable car.
“Kind of like a box of chocolates I never knew what I was going to get when I started the car,” Rivera told WMC Action News 5.
As Rivera’s story began to get worldwide attention, it came to the attention of Jada Pinkett Smith, who invited her onto a special Mother’s Day episode of her Facebook web series, Red Table Talk—where Pinkett Smith was joined by her mother Adrienne and daughter Willow. (Rivera’s story begins at about the 18:30 mark.)
After Rivera was wished a heartwarming thank you and a happy Mother’s Day from the Germantown Methodist staff, Pinkett Smith revealed the big surprise.
“We at the Smith Family Foundation heard that you were having some car problems,” said Pinkett Smith.
“And we know that that is your livelihood, and that’s your office, and that is also your chariot of service,” she continued. “So we want to purchase, for you, an eco-friendly car. A brand new one, for Mother’s Day.”
“You guys are an inspiration,” Rivera told the women through tears.
“I have never known such generosity in my entire life,” Rivera, is still making deliveries every night, later told WMC Action News.