A Lake Oswego High School senior who coaches special-needs children and founded her own business to benefit local charities has been chosen to represent Lake Oswego as The Review's "Amazing Kid."
Seventeen-year-old Jenny Kwon will join two dozen other students at a special event on May 8 — hosted by Pamplin Media Group and held at OMSI — that honors young people from across northwest Oregon who have shown a deep commitment to community service.
On May 11, she'll be featured in a full-color special section that will be included not only in The Review but in newspapers across the state, reaching more than 425,000 community-minded readers.
Kwon is the founder of Tough Cookies, a charitable business that donates 60 percent of its cookie sales to nonprofits. She also volunteers to coach special-needs students on the swim and cross-country teams at LOHS, all while maintaining a 4.34 GPA and staying active in community and school groups.
Kwon is the co-editor-in-chief of the student newspaper Lake Views, Associated Student Body's clubs and committees director and president of her school's chapter of the National Honor Society. She also does Bible study through her church. And she participates in Youth Action Council, a teen board that works with the Parks & Recreation Department to plan and promote community activities.
"I just think I've been given so much, and we often forget how much we are given," she says. "Not only does it help other people to give back, but I think it's really fun."
In 2014, Pamplin Media Group created the Amazing Kids award to recognize young people who were committed to making a difference in their communities. The hope was that by sharing their stories, others would be inspired to do the same.
Since then, Pamplin Media Group's community newspapers have honored 29 children as Amazing Kids each spring. The students may be accomplished in academic studies, sports, dance, music or other disciplines, but community service is the primary criteria used in the selection process.
Earlier this year, The Review asked readers to nominate Amazing Kids who are involved in the community and striving to make a difference. In addition to Kwon, the Lake Oswego finalists included:
Lake Oswego High School junior Delaney Ericson: Ericson has earned a place on the honor roll every semester while also competing on the tennis team and performing community service through National Charity League and other organizations. "Her favorite was Northwest Children's Outreach, where she compiled and donated over 150 hygiene kits for deserving children and families," says her godmother, Hilary Reinmuth. Ericson also trains service dogs for Autism Service Dogs of America and volunteers at a local cat shelter several hours per week.
Westside Christian High School sophomore Jake Mount: Mount has raised more than $5,000 for the Children's Cancer Association in the past five years through a basketball camp for younger children (ages 4-12) that he holds during the summer. He organizes the camps in honor of Gage, a close friend who died of cancer on Valentine's Day in 2011 at age 9. Gage was the only child of Lauren and Trux Dole, said Lauren Dole, who nominated Mount. "Jake wanted to do something to help other kids fighting cancer," she says. She says what's impressive is how long Mount has kept up this effort. He never forgot Gage, she says.
Oak Creek Elementary School fourth-grader Melanie Gabriel-Hastings: Gabriel-Hastings was recently honored by the Lake Oswego Rotary Club with a Service Above Self: Educational Excellence award; she received the honor because of her volunteer efforts in the school's garden program last year. This year, with support from a grant she received after applying to the City of Lake Oswego, she will be installing a butterfly garden at her school and launching a monarch butterfly-raising program. "Melanie has put in countless hours volunteering at her school for both of these projects, along with other projects at her school," says her mom, Megan Gabriel. "She is truly an amazing kid!"
Oak Creek Elementary School fourth-grader Makayla McCartney-Pike: As a Girl Scout, Makayla is giving any donations made during her cookie booth sales to a homeless outreach organization in Tigard called A Trace of Grace. Makayla, who does the project as an individual and not as part of a troop, also gave A Trace of Grace 36 boxes of cookies that people bought and donated. She is sending care packages of cookies to members of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force serving in Japan and Afghanistan, says her mom, Lake Oswego resident Sarah Pike.
The Pamplin Media Group's Amazing Kids event is presented by Pacific West Roofing and made possible by the generous support of local businesses that believe in the value of giving back to their community, including Coastal Farm and Ranch, EleMar of Oregon, Stonebridge Homes and The Closet Factory.
Jenny Kwon and 28 other Amazing Kids will be honored May 8 at a celebration in Portland. They'll also be featured in a full-color special section that will be included in newspapers across the state; look for it in the May 11 issue of The Review!