Eva's HeroesBy Michael Quintanilla – Express-News
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

“Desperate Housewives” actress Eva Longoria has won Screen Actors Guild, ALMA and People’s Choice awards, but the recognition she finds most humbling these days is for her activism and philanthropy.

On Oct. 6, she’ll be honored in Memphis, Tenn., with the prestigious Legacy Freedom Award presented by the National Civil Rights Museum for her philanthropy and humanitarian efforts. She’s one of three women who will be honored at the Memphis Cook Convention Center event.

But before Parker joins fellow honorees in Memphis – Nobel Peace Prize recipient Dr. Wangari Maathai of Kenya and Dr. Dorothy Cotton, who is known for her work in social change – the actress will put on her poker face for an Eva’s Heroes benefit: the third annual Tony and Eva Parker’s Celebrity Casino Night, Saturday at Pedrotti’s North Wind Ranch in Helotes.

Inspired by her sister, Lisa, Parker founded Eva’s Heroes, an organization that helps developmentally disabled children and young adults, four years ago. Parker also is a leader with Padres Contra El Cancer (Parents Against Cancer) and an advocate for migrant farm children, the subject for a documentary she’s working on called Harvest. And there’s her namesake’s foundation that raises money for personal charities and causes around the world, such as her campaign to house Haiti earthquake victims.

The celebrity-filled casino night will be attended by several Spurs players, local personalities and Parker’s Hollywood chums Roselyn Sanchez, Terry Crews, Robin Antin and Leeann Tweeden. Phil Hellmuth, 11-time world champion poker player, will be back as the Texas Hold ‘Em tournament emcee. For more on the event, go to www.evasheroes.org or call 210-694-9090.

We caught up with Parker between scenes of a movie being shot in Los Angeles; just the day before she was filming in Mexico.

Q: I heard you were filming in Mexico. How did that go?

A: Crazy, busy. But, yes, I’ve actually filmed two movies this summer. One is called Without Men that was shot here in L.A. and in Santa Barbara. It’s an independent film based on an amazing novel, Tales from the Town of Widows. All the men go off to war and die, so the women have to figure out how to make a new society. In the other movie, Cristiada, I play Andy Garcia’s wife. We shot part of it in Durango. It’s a period piece in the 1920s in Mexico, when the government overthrew the Catholic Church. I love historical fiction and never imagined that I would do a period piece. And I always dreamed of working with Andy Garcia.

Q: How has the economy played into your fundraising for Eva’s Heroes? Do you find that people are still just as giving?

A: It’s interesting that you say that because we have found in hard economic times the people that suffer the most are charity groups because nobody has that extra income to spend on philanthropy. We have been really lucky that we have held steady throughout the economy’s dip. But it doesn’t mean that we’re not nervous that we’ll never reach our fundraising goal. It’s a daunting task to fundraise in any economic climate. But we have managed to have some really loyal supporters who are loyal to the cause, loyal to the message and are loyal to the kids.

Q: How can one who isn’t famous or rich help? You don’t have to be a celebrity.

A: I say that all the time. Most philanthropists are all around us. You can give of your time. You can donate clothes to the Salvation Army. You can spend time at a soup kitchen. There are so many things you can do to make a difference in people’s lives, especially if you are blessed as I am. And I am not talking about money or fame. I am talking about how I am blessed with my health. I am blessed with amazing parents. I am blessed with an amazing family. I am blessed with a great husband. So I count my blessings in that way. I have so much love and energy and spirit to give to others. I think that can be found in everyone.

Q: Where were you when you received word about the Legacy Freedom Award?

A: I think I was working in L.A. and going, “Huh?” I feel like I am still so young in my activism life. I’m not saying I am a young person, but I am so young in seeing what I want to be able to accomplish in civil rights for Latinos, civil rights for women, civil rights for children’s health care.

Q: Where does your drive come from?

A: My philanthropic drive definitely comes from my mother. My Latino pride – my Mexican-American pride – comes from my father, who always taught me to never forget where you came from, and I never do. There are a lot of privileges that I have and so many people fought before me so that I could have it. So I want to continue their fight to make a better life for those who want it and earn it and need it.

To read more visit  http://www.mysanantonio.com/entertainment/article/Longoria-Parker-s-work-off-screen-in-spotlight-676878.php