Comedienne Lucille Ball once said, “If you want a job done well, give it to a busy person.” This adage applies to one of Evergreen’s busiest and engaged people: Candy Porter. Candy is an established fixture in Evergreen despite being born, raised and educated in Omaha, Nebraska.
Some Evergreen mountaineers often refer to Nebraskans as ‘flatlanders,’ but the momentum that Candy has sustained since she was a child belies any resemblance to being flat in scope of interests and knowledge.
As a high schooler in Omaha, Candy was awarded the title role of Anne Frank in the annual school play. This early role jump-started Candy’s stage career that led her to multiple roles, including a key role in the Nebraska Theater Caravan’s A Christmas Carol. While working for the Nebraska Theater Caravan, Candy and her son Matthew were able to take to the stage together while traveling on an extensive tour of New England and Canada for summer theater productions.
When not involved in stage productions in Nebraska, Candy nurtured her love of volunteerism. Porter proudly declares, “I am a professional volunteer and thrive on helping others.” Candy’s penchant for sharing her time in a volunteer capacity led her to work with Mobile Meals, serving as acting Director of the Indian Chicano Health Center, a member of Landmarks Historic Preservation Organization and docent at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha.
Candy’s passion for volunteerism and helping others often called for lobbying local Omaha governing bodies, and she became a veritable fixture at the courthouse – so much so that her two sons delightfully anticipated the courthouse visits. “The boys,” she sayd, “knew exactly where the kids’ corner was at the courthouse because they spent a fair amount of time there while I lobbied for funding and fairness.” Her sons developed an early appreciation for helping others their mother was able to take the kids with her to many of her volunteer opportunities.
Candy realized the need to balance her passion for volunteerism and the necessity to earn a living. Putting her Library Science degree to use led her to the head librarian position at the Cathedral High School in Omaha. From that role Candy transitioned into owning ‘Paper Dolls,’ a wallpaper and decorating business, and on to owning and managing a consignment shop.
While fully ensconced in the clothing consignment shop business, Candy recalls, “the emptiness I felt in not helping others.” As it turned out, she devised a way to help older men and women who were entering the workforce to ‘dress for success’ and began offering classes at her shop for this group of adults who were beginning their careers later in life. Candy feels she has the ability to turn her good fortune into opportunities that help to empower and encourage others.
As her Nebraska swan song of sorts, Candy acted as the production coordinator for a film entitled “The Grass That Never Breaks” – a glimpse into Native American culture and traditions that was funded, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts.
In 1993 the lure of the Rocky Mountains and her future husband, Paul, met no match with Candy’s docent activities at the Joslyn Art Museum and the tireless hours spent at the Indian Chicano Health Center in Omaha. The Nebraska native traveled westward after her sons reached adulthood and raking up a reputation of being a relentless go-getter and go-to person in her many endeavors.
In a whirlwind of energy, Candy came to Evergreen loaded with years of experience and a passion that is admirable in scope and depth. Following a short stint working at downtown’s Evergreen Crafters, she was hired to manage the Evergreen Conference Center in 1994, a venue that accommodated everything from weddings to banquets and corporate seminars. As events coordinator, she had her hands full in all aspects of the operation of the center including, as Candy recalls, “ Often repairing the water system during breakdowns in service.”
After awhile, Candy held down the operations of the center with the help of an on-site chef. She delights in recalling, “Preparing and renting a 6-room guest house that I often rented to authors looking for peace and quiet”. This guesthouse remains on the former ECC grounds and is located between the current Center Stage and the Lariat Lodge Brew Pub. Candy remained the one-woman-show at the ECC until 2010, at which point the venue was shuttered and offered on the real estate market.
When asked why she didn’t revive her stage career with the Evergreen Players or other local theater groups, Candy replied, “It is not that I didn’t have the interest; I just had no time to devote.”
The contours and definition of Candy’s sense of volunteerism in Evergreen span everywhere from serving on the Board of the Jefferson County Historical Society to her unfailing commitment to programs and guiding tours of historical interest at the Hiwan Museum. She has been a member of the Downtown Evergreen Business Association, the Evergreen Chamber and is an active fundraiser for the Jefferson County Historical Society.
In her retirement from the Evergreen Conference Center, Candy and her husband operate a successful antique business located at a local antique mall. As a professional researcher, Candy continues to uncover and relate the history of Evergreen’s Douglas family, one-time owners of Camp Neosho (Hiwan Museum) and the Evergreen Conference summer music camp.
When asked what she most admires about living in Evergreen, Candy quickly replies, “The magnificent beauty and history of the area, the countless opportunities for public service and the community’s sense of the importance of volunteerism.”