Brooklyn Chillemi,
Emma Olson,
Hannah Reddick

2021 Amazing Kids - The Times - Beaverton
Ages: 16 and 17
School: La Salle Catholic College Preparatory
Hometown: Happy Valley, Or
Why they're Amazing: They staged benefit shows to support a Portland nonprofit organization that provides mentorship opportunities to homeless youth.

PROUDLY SPONSORED BY:

BENEFIT SHOW SUPPORTS BUDDING ARTISTS

After spending a summer at home because of the pandemic, three La Salle Catholic College Preparatory students decided they wanted to do what they and so many other teenagers wanted to do — create art.

So they gathered via Zoom and planned “Artists Aiding Artists,” an online show featuring student performances and artwork.

La Salle juniors Brooklyn Chillemi, Hannah Reddick and Emma Olson said they wanted to stage the shows to give students a chance to perform and support a Portland-based nonprofit organization that provides mentorship opportunities to homeless youth. Donations raised as a result of the three Happy Valley residents’ benefit went to p:ear, an organization that seeks to help homeless teens discover and nurture their artistic talents.

Michael Shelton, La Salle’s theater teacher, said one of the traits that makes the three teens amazing is that “they looked outside of themselves.”

“They looked around at the community and saw how isolated and alone so many folks — including themselves — were feeling,” he said. “They wanted to create a way in which people could safely come together, share their art and serve their community.”

After hosting auditions, the students filmed each of the acts individually on La Salle’s stage. They then edited together a video of the acts, creating a show that went live on YouTube last fall. Students demonstrated a mix of styles in the benefit. Sophomore Isabella Simonutti sang “I just want to be a star” from the off-Broadway musical “Nunsense,” while other students showed their visual art projects and described what inspired them to create their pieces.

“Being able to express and honor nature and things that I get to experience in my community is something that’s really important to me and definitely inspires me to create art,” Olson said. Chillemi loves how free-form and expressive art can be.

“There are so many different kinds of art and different people who do art and everyone has their own style, so everyone can work together on something and make something really cool,” Chillemi said.

 

Producing the show is just one of the many ways these three teens have volunteered. Reddick gives time to the Children’s Center in Vancouver (it provides mental health care to children in need) as well as at homeless shelters and other programs for people with low incomes.

“The Pacific Northwest has a big problem with people not being able to access housing,” she says. “I want to do my part to protect those people.”

As for the role of art in helping people, Reddick said, “I feel like the basis of human connection is sharing each other’s emotions.”

Chillemi enjoys volunteering at food pantries, such as at Turning Point Church, which collects food, then gives it to people in need.

“My family is Italian, so we’ve always said that food brings people together,” she said. Olson’s service work includes tutoring through National Honor Society, and making lunches and care kits for Blanchet House, a nonprofit that supports the community with free food, clothing and hygiene items. At school, she helps with shows and the National Art Honors Society.

“I volunteer with these activities because they allow me to combine doing things I am passionate about with helping other people,” she said.

The show is still available on YouTube. The teens said they hope to create more events that serve the community.

“They wanted to use their art to connect folks together, build relationships and look out for one another,” Shelton said. “I am so proud of them.”

To learn more about Artist Aiding, go to sites.google.com/view/artists-aiding/home. To see a rough cut of the show, go to La Salle Prep’s Facebook or Instagram pages.