2020 Amazing Kid - Clackamas Review
School: La Salle Prep
Hometown: Happy Valley, Or
PROUDLY SPONSORED BY:
ARTIST DISPLAYS PASSION TO SERVE COMMUNITY
Annie Hoang has volunteered for Oregon YouthLine every Friday night for the last three years.
She helps teen callers through dark times and thoughts of self-harm.
“Annie is an exceptional young person who will undoubtedly spend her life making the world a better place,” says La Salle Prep counselor and social studies teacher Kerri Kelvin, who saw Annie graduate from the Milwaukie-area school this spring.
With many people forced into quarantine due to the spread of COVID-19, Annie says it’s a lucky thing the YouthLine has been able to continue to operate. Supported by private foundations, Multnomah County, and individual donations, YouthLine is a Lines for Life service, a 501c(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to prevent suicide and substance abuse.
“Before I started volunteering at YouthLine, I struggled with my mental health for a long time and felt ashamed about reaching out for help,” Annie says. “The first person I ever told about what I was going through was a YouthLine volunteer, and the validation and compassion they showed me helped me to take the first step in getting help from people in my life.”
Annie then started volunteering at YouthLine with a modest goal to be a voice of support for someone — anyone — in a dark place, just like volunteers at YouthLine had been for her. However, her volunteer time at YouthLine has been more meaningful than she could have ever expected.
“I’m really grateful for every person I’ve met there, talked to on shift, and everything they’ve taught me,” Annie says. “I was a really quiet kid growing up, but my experiences at YouthLine taught me to speak out and empowered me to advocate for youth mental health.” Annie’s advocacy is expressed through her art inspired by social justice issues that she feels passionately about. She is involved in equity issues regarding gender, sexual identity and mental health awareness.
According to veteran educators, an artist and activist like Annie doesn’t come around every day. La Salle Prep art teacher Cha Asokan calls Annie “one of the most talented artists I have ever met” after 22 years of teaching.
“Annie is an amazing community member who gives and gives of herself continually,” Asokan says. “She not only serves in communities, but she also has extreme talent and passion for creative writing, visual arts, and screenwriting, where she expresses her voice with talent and passion.”
Annie and her friends are currently selling prints and donating all the proceeds to Black Lives Matter organizations through the Instagram account @artforadvocacy. Her artwork ranges from colorful, provocative and political posters to black-and-white etchings of nature scenes. One of her drawings shows what appears to be a smiling, playful 2-or-3-year-old African American boy holding up his hands under the words “don’t shoot” rendered in a multi-color crayon-style font.
“I hope that through the making of and sharing of my art, I am able to better educate myself and others,” Annie says. “I’m also really grateful for the La Salle community for educating me about social justice, especially my art teacher Cha and my friends who are amazing artists and inspiring youth activists.”
During the upcoming school year, Annie will be studying psychology and film at Seattle University, where she will attend the honors college.
“I was really drawn to their honors program because they have a society, policy and citizenship track,” she says. “I’m really excited to learn more about how to be a better social justice advocate and address issues in a way that makes a real change in the world.”