Two Area Women Featured in Oprah Shows
Two women with ties to Moore County will appear on separate Oprah Winfrey productions this weekend.
County resident Eli Arroyo-Allen is one of 30 "Military Spouse of the Year" nominees honored by Winfrey during the Oct. 11 taping of her "Favorite Things" show, which will air as a two-hour special on Nov. 18 at 8 p.m. on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). This program will be followed by the debut of "Married to the Army: Alaska," OWN's new reality show about military spouses. That program will include Yolanda Goins, the wife of Southern Pines native and Pinecrest graduate Col. Morris Goins.
Arroyo-Allen said it was "amazing" to be part of the program.
"A magazine called 'Military Spouse' has a yearly contest to select a 'Spouse of the Year,' and a couple of years ago I was a nominee," Arroyo-Allen said. "I didn't win, but I was a finalist, and when the Oprah staff decided to put a show together honoring military wives, they asked for a list of this magazine's previous winners and nominees. That's how it came about that I was selected."
The 30 were flown to Washington, D.C., for what they thought would be a private showing of the "Married to the Army: Alaska" program, in order to get their input on the show. But Arroyo-Allen said that once they were seated, things became "very strange."
"They told us beforehand that they were representatives of the Oprah Winfrey Network, and that Oprah wouldn't be there. But just before the screening was supposed to take place, out walks Oprah. You can imagine the reaction from everyone. She talked to us for a while and said she would meet us again after the screening. But then about two minutes into the program, the screen goes black, and I thought, oh great, we come all this way and their equipment breaks down. Then absolute chaos ensued when Oprah suddenly came back out and announced that it was the return of her "Favorite Things" show. They were taping the program and we were part of it."
Arroyo-Allen, a Cuban-American and a breast cancer survivor, said the program went well.
"The reason we were chosen was not only because we are military spouses, but also because we have done things that have contributed to our communities," she said. "In my case it was founding the Loving Life/Amando La Vida organization to educate the Hispanic population about breast cancer. The stories from the other spouses were amazing, and I think Oprah did this as her way to honor the military."
As with other Oprah productions, unique gifts to participants were part of the show.
"There are a number of things we are not allowed to discuss prior to the debut of the program, but I can say that one gift has arrived and more are coming," Arroyo-Allen said. "The gifts are amazing, but I took in so much more as a result of the whole experience."
In the "Married to the Army: Alaska" program, Goins is one of seven wives featured. The program premiers at 10 p.m. Sunday and will show again on Nov. 19.
Col. Goins, the son of Mrs. Edna Goins of Eastwood and the late Thomas Goins, is brigade commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) 25th Infantry Division. He recently returned from Afghanistan and is stationed in Anchorage, Alaska.
"I am very excited to know my son and his wife will be featured on the program," Edna Goins said. "Morris called me at the beginning of October and said his wife was in negotiations with the OWN. I don't have much information about it, but I am looking forward to seeing the show."
A press release for "Married to the Army: Alaska" says the series "follows the lives of seven women from Fort Richardson, Alaska, who are married to soldiers of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry. Their husbands deployed in November 2011, and are just now starting to return after almost a year in combat."
Arroyo-Allen said that she believes Oprah and her staff "got" the idea of what being a military spouse entails.
"While we realize the choices we made when we became military spouses, we miss out on a lot of things, and our spouses lose out on even more," she said. "At a child's birth, they have to leave. When a son or daughter graduates, they are deployed. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my husband had to leave that very day for a year.
"The gifts that Oprah gave us, I believe, reflect on what we miss as military spouses. I was amazed and humbled to be part of this experience."
Contact John Lentz at (910) 693-2479 or jlentz@thepilot. com.
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