Starla Porter-People You Should KnowCommunity News, People You Should Know — By Buddy Sampson on August 31, 2011 at 4:05 am
Purveyor of Change
There are many heroes and heroines in the community that don’t get the fanfare they deserve. They quietly go about their way, helping others that are less fortunate. These dynamic individuals are purveyors of change and they positively affect every neighborhood, every village, every group and every person they encounter. Starla Porter is one of those incredible human beings.
There are several people that consider themselves life coaches. True life coaches have the innate ability to enrich lives by their sage advice and counsel. However, many life coaches don’t know the meaning of true adversity, so they lack the ability to be a sufficient guide for others. Starla Porter knows the meaning of adversity. She grew up in South Central Los Angeles, which can be an area of challenge. “My character was formed in that I saw many things, probably more things that any child should have seen,” said Starla Porter. “We were poor, but I didn’t know it. I don’t remember a day of not having a meal or anything like that because my mom knew how to stretch a dollar.” Starla’s family, which consisted of her father, mother and five other siblings, lived in a three bedroom apartment. “We lived across the street from what was then called Sid’s Cafe,” she reflected. “Mr. Jase(the owner) was the local hero for the kids, we’d go over and offer to help in the restaurant and he’d give us some change and a lot of the kids would wind up working there even and that would be their part time job. So I saw some good things and I saw some bad things.” Unfortunately, the bad things included the influx and epidemic of crack cocaine in the South Central community, which destroyed many lives. “That affected many of my friends,” she said. “And there were some that didn’t survive. They were both male and female. They have either been imprisoned or maybe still are, dead or on drugs. They just did not survive and didn’t make it out. So I’m grateful that I had something within me that always continued to press me and push me forward.”
Starla’s decision to help others came as a result of her growing up in a challenging environment. “Since I did not have many women to draw from, many mentors, I had purpose to become that myself,” she explained. But she did have teachers in school that saw her potential for doing great things. “I was what the kids would call a teacher’s pet,” she laughed, “because I have always been drawn to wisdom. The mentoring that I did get was always within in a school environment, it never was in my own community, though.” As in many communities, however, churches and the park recreational system were important parts of her life. “Those two places became foundational for me,” she said. But budget cuts as a result of new laws, coupled with drugs, gangs and violence saturated South Central Los Angeles. Starla saw changes that affected meny families. “I remember when Prop 13 passed, we no longer had basketballs for the gyms, we no longer had bats or balls or anything like that,” she said. “Nobody had money to go buy basketballs and things like that. When all that went away, then the gang activity increased.”
The gang activity touched her brother, who was also involved in the gang lifestyle. But Starla drew inspiration from her brother to start a publishing company. “Looking back on my journey, what I do today is as a result of helping him,” said Starla, who started Zoe Life Publishing (now Zoe Life Publications) in 2004. “He is extremely intelligent and extremely talented and a gifted writer. He was in and out of prison, I wanted to get his attention and that’s how I started publishing.”
A Certified Life coach and motivational speaker, Starla, out of the need for mentors in the community, started Sister’s Network in 1996, which eventually became The Lavender Room. “It was just a support group for women to come together, leave your titles at home,” she laughed. “At my first gathering I had 45 women. I was intimidated.” Among the group were lawyers, surgeons and other professionals. She realized that she had the beginnings of a successful woman’s forum. Later, she changed the name to The Lavender Room after it was decided that men needed to be part of the amazing forum. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a Masters degree in Organizational Management.
Starla Porter is excited about a new book that will be released soon called “Living The Zoe Life Every Day.” Originally released in 1996, the book has benefits for all its readers. “It’s a personal coach that you can carry with you all the time,” said the author. “I’m really challenging the reader to be accountable for the choices and the decisions that we make in our lives so we can get the results that they want to see.” Starla is also excited about a new project she’s involved in, “Hole In The Head: A Life Revealed” a documentary narrated by Dennis Haysbert, which debuted at The Pan African Film Festival in 2011 by Wilbert Smith Ph.D. and Brett Leonard. For more information on this project visit www.smithleonardproductions.com.
The beautiful lady with the effervescent and bubbly personality often finds herself mentoring both the young and the mature. In doing so, she serves what she believes is her life’s purpose. Occasionally, she mentors youth from South Central and the surrounding areas. One of the reasons Starla Porter has helped kids is because of her willingness to hear their stories and relate to their trials and tribulations. Many kids listen to Starla’s message because she truly understands them. “I know where you’ve been because I’ve been there,” she says to youth. “I think that once they understand we’ve been there, then the dialogue truly starts.” Change often comes by understanding and patience. A true purveyor of change, Starla Porter is a heroine in the community and for that reason, one of the People You Should Know.
Starla Porter hosts a monthly Meeting of the Minds Zoe Life Series every second Saturday of the month from 2-5PM. For more information, visit www.starlaporter.com.
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