PACIFIC CREST SOPHOMORE SEES UNIQUE MINDS AS A BENEFIT TO HER COMMUNITY
Ilf a job needs to be done at the Children’s Healing Art Project, the odds are Maryn Moreau is already on it. A 10th grader at Pacific Crest Community School in Portland, Moreau is passionate about volunteering and dedicating the time she isn’t in class to service work.
Her time volunteering has helped the Oregon Food Bank, Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon, Store to Door, Children’s Healing Art Project, and the Autism Society of Oregon.
“Maryn comes in eager and ready to do anything you ask her to,” said Faye Pendergrass, program manager at the Children’s Healing Art Project. “Maryn spent her whole shift this morning just filling glue bottles.
I kept offering, ‘You don’t have to do that. There are other people that could do that next week if you would like to sequin.’ And she said, ‘No, this needs to be done.’”
When she was an eighth grader at Portland Jewish Academy, Moreau had trouble picking her capstone service project — not because it was difficult to select an organization or cause, but because there were so many she was interested in. “I did not want to do one project.
I wanted to do many,” Moreau said. She focused on helping the Oregon homeless population by partnering with PDX Diaper Bank. By the end of her project, she’d distributed close to 2,000 diapers to families in need.
Moreau’s favorite subject is science, and she is particularly interested in psychology and neuroscience — things she’s incorporated into her community outreach and service.
Moreau advocates for children and adults who are on the autism spectrum and cited Temple Grandin — a popular author and speaker on autism and animal behavior — as an inspiration for pursuing equity in neurodiversity. “I think neurodiversity is something that affects everybody,” Moreau said.
“I just find it very important to highlight that everybody’s minds are different, and that’s awesome. We need different types of thinkers to solve the world’s big questions.” Moreau hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology focusing on Autism Spectrum Disorder, and loves to dive into neuroscience writing and research. Her advocacy and volunteering work often focus on areas that have affected her family and community.
“When a kid, teenager or an adult has a disability, especially a developmental or intellectual disability, people often assume that they are incompetent or will not understand the world around them, especially for people who are nonspeaking or use other forms of communication,” said Moreau. “That doesn’t mean that they don’t understand, and it probably doesn’t feel great for people when they’re not being interacted with as they should be.
“I believe that everybody should be treated equally. Assuming competence is just a very big and important thing that I go by.” She began working with Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon because her grandfather had lived with the disease.
“I got to talk to other volunteers who have had experiences with family members who live with Parkinson’s, and it was really amazing, and it felt really nice to be able to also help people who are experiencing that right now,” Moreau said.
She volunteered with the Autism Society of Oregon during the Portland Fan Expo because many people in her community are on the spectrum.
She also wants to work with the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Oregon. “I’m passionate about giving back to places that have helped my family,” Moreau said. Moreau attributes her passion for service to her mom, who works as a teacher at the Catlin Gabel School.
“When I was 5, I think, I had done a lemonade stand and gave the money to Habitat for Humanity. That’s the first memory I have of doing any service work. My mom got my sister, and I started young,” Moreau said.
“I remember having a Ziploc bag full of coins and then bringing it to Habitat for Humanity.” As she continues her service work in high school, Moreau said the most prominent challenges come from needing to be older to get involved in service opportunities for volunteers over 18.
At the Children’s Healing Art Project, she’d like to continue helping out in any way possible, even if that means filling up glue bottles.