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Kid Care was feeding more than 20,000 Houston kids a month. photos courtesy Kid Care ing the Porters owed $550,000 for unreported income. Donations dried up fast. Despite the Porters’ protestations of innocence, almost all of their old supporters fled. Some, no doubt, felt that they couldn’t trust the couple anymore. Others, perhaps, feared getting on the wrong side of Dolcefino, an aggressive reporter best known for bringing down Sylvester Turner, an African-American state representative then running for Houston mayor, with a damaging expostimed to run close to election daythat turned out to be anything but a model of fair and thorough reporting. A Texas Supreme Court justice later said that Dolcefino had helped decide the mayoral race by publishing a ginned-up story “knowing that it would create a false impression.” The Porters’ legal exoneration finally cameproving, Carol says, “we were not crooks.” But by then, Kid Care was gone. How had a “model charity” fallen so far, so fast? Were the Porters victims of a sensationalistic, ratings-hungry reporter and an attorney general who too readily accepted his reports as fact? Had their impatience with “bean-counting” and sound business practices doomed them when Kid Care went from a self-funded mom-and-pop charity to one with a $i million budget and 15 employees? Was Kid Care poorly served by a board of directors who didn’t exercise enough oversight? Or were the Porters brought down by the size of their ambitions for Kid Careto not just feed hungry kids, but draw them out of the cycle of poverty? The answer, in all cases, is yes. Carol and Hurt Porter both grew up in families that routinely offered helping hands to people down on their luck. She came from a middle-class, black Republican clan, growing up mostly in Brooklyn and on army bases in Germany. Her father was a career soldier. A generous one, as she tells it; Carol recalls seeing her parents sharing food with hungry Germans in the early 195os. According to a Kid Care pamphlet written by Carol, Hurt’s mother, when he was growing up in Pittsburgh Pa., took in homeless folks to help them “get on their feet.” The Porters were married in 1973. In the early years of their marriage, Carol worked as a registered nurse and Hurt as a union metalworker. They lived comfortably in their north Houston neighborhood, which was mostly black and poor. They began handing out food to the homeless and others, informally at first. By the mid-‘7os, when their son Hurt III was born, Carol wanted to quit full-time nursing and expand the food handouts. The Porters had done well enough financially to buy a first house. Carol says they settled on a lessthan-prosperous neighborhood, and a modest house in it, after Hurt told her: “You have to choosea small house and feed SEPTEMBER 18, 2009 TEXASOBSERVER.ORG 15