05/21/2014 11:23 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How This 'Oprah Show' Guest Broke The Cycle Of Poverty In Her Family (VIDEO)

In 1989, "The Oprah Winfrey Show" struck a nerve by featuring mothers and daughters dependent on welfare. Back then, viewers met Dorothy Sanders and her daughter Altomese. Dorothy been on welfare for 28 years -- 15 of which were during Altomese's childhood -- and Altomese was on welfare as well. Neither woman was content with her circumstances, but tried to explain the challenge of breaking this cycle of poverty.

"It wasn't a great feeling to be on welfare, but sometimes the system locks you in," Dorothy explained to Oprah. "For instance, if you're getting money per month and you're offered a job paying $3.35 an hour, I mean, it's easier to take the money than [spend] eight to 10 hours away from the kids."

Altomese, a mother of two, went on welfare when she was five months pregnant with her first son, and was still on it nine years later during the "Oprah Show" taping. Just a few years earlier, Altomese had another child.

"I really just don't understand why if you have one child that you really cannot afford to take care of, I don't understand why you then have a second child," Oprah said to Altomese.

"Well, my children are six years apart and I met another guy that I fell in love with also," Altomse said. "I got pregnant and he wanted me to have it, so I did."

Twenty-five years later, Altomese shared an update for an episode of "Oprah: Where Are They Now?" She said that the show was an enlightening moment in her life.

"Once I got home, I realized I wanted more for myself," Altomese said. "Oprah said something that was very astounding to me. She said, 'Altomese, you know better.' That 'Altomese, you know better' stuck with me to this day."

Altomese got off welfare, went to school and got her real estate license. Today, she owns three pieces of property. "I went from a Section 8 tenant to a landlord," Altomese said.

As for her mother, Altomese said that Dorothy also made changes after the show. "She went back to school for business education," Altomese said. Unfortunately, shortly after earning her certificate, Dorothy was diagnosed with lung cancer. She passed away in 2005, leaving Altomese with powerful words she'll never forget.

"My mother told me before she passed away that I made her proud because I was able to achieve something that she wasn't," Altomese said.

New episodes of "Oprah: Where Are They Now?" begin airing on Sunday, June 1, at 9 p.m. ET on OWN.

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