A heartfelt success story

Elva Treviño Hart plans to bring a slew of food — oranges, apples, blueberries, strawberries, pickles, even a bottle of ketchup — to Huntington Beach High School on Thursday.

They won't be for tasting, though.

Hart, the author of this year's HB Reads book selection, "Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child," grew up in a family of migrant farm workers in the mid-20th century. The book tells the story of her journey from the fields to a well-paying job as an IBM executive, a success that she attributes to her dogged education.

When Hart addresses the students, though, she expects to focus on crops more than computers. In preparation for her speech, she asked the HB Reads team to make a stop at the market.

"I think there's a disconnect between the crops and the migrant workers and kids," said Hart, who lives in Virginia. "I think kids think apples come from the grocery store and spinach comes in little bags in the freezer.

"I want to suggest to the kids that the next time they put ketchup on their French fries, they think of the hand that takes the tomato and pulls it off the vine. And maybe the hand is attached to a heart that has a family someplace and misses it."

The HB Reads program, which grew out of the city's Human Relations Task Force, spotlights a book every year with a diversity or human rights theme. For two months, the city hosts film screenings, storytimes and other events centered on the book, with the author visiting Surf City on the last day of the program.

In addition to addressing Huntington Beach High students in the morning and evening, Hart will attend an afternoon reception at the home of former Mayor Ralph Bauer, who has hosted the author each of the last three years. The reception, "An Evening with Elva Treviño Hart," is open to the public with a $50 suggested donation.

Bauer, whose parents came to the United States from Germany, said he found "Barefoot Heart" a particularly resonant tale.

"Things like that, those success stories are always very heartwarming," he said. "My parents were immigrants to this country, so I'm very oriented toward immigrant stories. They arrived in 1929 with nothing and made a lot for themselves.

"So anyone who starts from meager beginnings and ends up like Mrs. Hart, I think that's a wonderful story."

If You Go

What: "An Evening with Elva Treviño Hart"

Where: Home of Ralph and Charlene Bauer, 16511 Cotuit Circle, Huntington Beach

When: 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday

Cost: $50 suggested donation

Information: (714) 497-3237 or http://www.hbreads.org. Hart will also give a free presentation at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Huntington Beach High School gym, 1905 Main St.

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