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Killing Kid Care Carol and Hurt Porter Jr. ran a well-connected, million-dollar “model charity” in Houston -until it all came crashing down. BY DAVID THEIS 0 n a recent Saturday afternoon, a group of parishioners from Berean Adventist Church on Houston’s near East Side gathered to fill grocery bags with donated food. It was part of a weekly post-church ritual organized by the PortersCarol and Hurt Jr. The Porters round up donations from grocery stores and bring the fruits and vegetables to be sorted, bagged and delivered to the neighborhood’s numerous elderly and shut-in residents. As the group counted out how many bananas, mangoes and yams should go into each bag, Carol and Hurt were lively and engaged. Carol, who’s 64, is a talker anyway, a dynamo of a woman. Hurt Jr. \(his father was named Hurt because of noticeably more voluble here than at home, where his quiet demeanor perhaps shows the effects of the Job-like trial the Porters have lived through for most of this decade. Until 2002, the Porters headed a nationally prominent charity, Kid Care. Started in the kitchen of their modest northside house in 1984, Kid Care had grown spectacularly, feeding more than 20,000 a month in the nation’s first Meals on Wheels program for hungry children. As donations came in, the program had branched out into delivering health care and providing cultural-enrichment programs for inner-city kids. Kid Care became well-known in short order. It was named 14 THE TEXAS OBSERVER SEPTEMBER 18, 2009 as one of Bush 41’s “Thousand Points of Light”No. 866. Carol, a lifelong Republican, stood behind Bush 43 in the Oval Office when he signed the Faith-Based Initiatives Act. Kid Care had gone international, recognized as an NGO by the United Nations, where Carol had spoken. Carol was an ABC News “Person of the Week.” Her face, along with those of needy children, adorned billboards all around Houston. A New York Times article called her “the Mother Teresa of Houston.” By 2002, Carol says she had begun to contemplate life after Kid Care. She had turned the day-to-day operations over to a new executive director and wanted to write a book, hit the speaker circuit, and spread her and Hurt Jr.’s vision of selfempowerment for the poor farther beyond Houston. Then disaster struck, in the form of muck-raking Houston television reporter Wayne Dolcefino. In September 2002, on the local ABC affiliate, Dolcefino produced the first in a series investigating how Kid Care spent its money. He found plenty that was suspicious: money apparently spent on the Porters themselveson fancy meals and hair salons, on personal property taxes, on friends and relatives and, as the nail in the coffin, on strip-club outings. As Dolcefino’s series ended, the Porters were sued by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. The AG’s office shut down Kid Care and ordered another charity for children opened \(without