By Will Fairless
Jerwayne and Shawanda Terry, two Smiths Station residents, were featured on The Ellen Show in November. As part of “Ellen’s Hyundai Fundays,” the show recognized and did giveaways to people like the Terrys.
Shawanda was a registered nurse before quitting her job to have time to raise a group of children who were going to be put in emergency foster care. “We found out about the children being placed in emergency foster care, so I decided to leave my job,” Shawanda said on the show on Nov. 3. “They were trying to separate the kids and put them in different homes, so we said, ‘Absolutely not.’”
Jerwayne, who now works as a firefighter and paramedic, said on the same show, “Basically, I went to work one day and I had two kids. And when I came home from that shift, I had a whole bunch of kids. That’s basically what it was.”
The Terrys were invited to be on The Ellen Show via a remote video call, although they did not know they were on the show until some time after they saw Ellen DeGeneres on the other end of the call. Shawanda said that she thought they were looking at a photo of the show’s host until she (DeGeneres) addressed the couple directly, at which point the call’s audio had to be muted due to a prolonged outburst from the two long-time fans.
The Terrys have, since that initial adoption, become licensed foster parents so they could take in children in addition to their existing seven and an expected eighth.
“It’s a big need, there’s a lot of kids that are homeless,” Jerwayne said. “Basically we want to be able to give back and give kids a home and surround them with love and give them something they are missing. They’re going through a rough time in their lives, and we want to give them that.”
Shawanda added that the couple feels blessed to be able to provide some stability to the children, that to do so during hectic times in the children’s lives is the Terrys’ calling.
To provide for his growing family, Jerwayne works as a firefighter, paramedic and teaches on the side. “We see him maybe once or twice a week,” Shawanda said.
After the Terrys told their story, DeGeneres revealed a massive gift box and invited the Terrys to come to the studio to open it. The Ellen Show provided the suitcases, the tickets for the children’s first plane ride and for all other expenses as the family made the trip to Los Angeles for the Nov. 11 show.
On that show, Shawanda said, “It means a lot. It was just amazing, and we’re just so grateful. We’re so appreciative, and our hearts are so full of gratitude. We couldn’t thank you enough.”
That outpouring of gratitude came before the Terrys’ gift from the show was revealed to them. The gift that required such an enormous box was a new Hyundai Palisade, the revelation of which produced a nine-person fit of excitement that must have been a nightmare for the show’s sound engineer.
A second wave of excitement was unleashed when DeGeneres opened the car’s trunk to reveal $50,000 in cash.
“We’re just so happy we found out about y’all because you’re such an amazing family,” DeGeneres said.
To see the Terrys’ Nov. 3 appearance on the show, go to www.ellentube.com/video/firefighter-and-family-open-a-huge-life-changing-gift.html
Photo by Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.