Christy Porter was a photojournalist in Kentucky when the little paper where she worked did hard investigations of local sacred cows like the university basketball program. She moved to L.A. hoping to keep shooting, sold books at Dutton's, and eventually found her way to the Palm Springs area. On Tuesday, she was honored as the "Mother Teresa of the Coachella Valley" by Maria Shriver, Jimmy Carter and about 14,000 others. Hidden Harvest, the program Porter founded, has located and donated nearly three million pounds of food and serves some 10,000 families a month across the desert.
Porter, and the others, received standing ovations and $25,000 for their organizations.
"I am not a spotlight person, more a 'flashlight' person fumbling along with her small light from one place to the next," Porter said. "But spotlight I am in for the moment. Hopefully, I can use this momentary light for good."
Established in 2000, Hidden Harvest is a recovery program that hires farmworkers to harvest about $200 million in produce that is plowed under every year....Porter's response to January's freeze, which destroyed $86 million in Riverside County crops, won her recognition when she spearheaded food drives for the estimated 10,000 farmworkers laid off by the cold snap.
Former President Jimmy Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize winner for his own humanitarian efforts, congratulated Porter calling her efforts "Herculean."
"Christy attacked hunger because it's a solvable problem - just get food to the people who need it," he wrote in a personal letter to Porter, reprinted in the event's program. "She believes that in one of California's most fertile breadbaskets - the Coachella Valley is the fifth-largest producer of row crops in the nation - there's no reason anyone should go hungry."
Porter was nominated for the Minerva Award by Kathleen Brown, the former state treasurer. Sweet Alice Harris, the Watts community leader, also picked up a Minerva on Tuesday at Shriver's annual Women's Conference in Long Beach.
Photo: Taya Kashuba Gray / The Desert Sun