On Monday's at-home episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, she chatted with Mario Salerno, a Brooklyn landlord who told his 200 tenants they no longer owe rent for the month of April due to the pandemic, and gave him the surprise of a lifetime.
"I did that not only for humanity, but these tenants of mine are like my family and they were struggling," Salerno told the daytime host. "They were going through tough times. And to me, it wasn't part of the money because that's irrelevant to a human life and I had tenants come to me crying telling me they couldn't afford not even to put a meal on their table."
"So, I thought it over after the first and the second tenant came and I said, ‘Listen to me…' I think to myself it's easier for me to tell them I'm gonna waive the rent," he continued. "I want them to make sure they have food on their table, I want to make sure they can take care of their roommates and their neighbors."
As he told DeGeneres his story, Salerno encouraged others to practice the same act of kindness, adding. "And please, if we could just pass this on to someone who needs a little extra help, I would really appreciate that."
After waiving the month's rent, the landlord shared that he showered with gifts from his tenants. But for him, the real "thank you" comes from watching them be kind to one another. "I told them, ‘This is not necessary,'" he said. "If you can just help each other. Help the person that needs help and the assistance. That's what will make me very happy."
During their chat, Salerno admitted that his wife is a huge fan of The Ellen Show, and DeGeneres gifted him and his family tickets to the show once filming resumes. In collaboration with Shutterfly, she also donated $25,000 to North Brooklyn Angels, a charity that is close to Salerno's heart and offers hot meals to vulnerable communities in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Watch Ellen surprise Mario in the heartwarming video above!