Fellowship program highlighting social service projects

The Dragon Kim Foundation, an Orange County-based nonprofit, has announced the 35 teams selected for the 2022 Dragon Kim Fellowship Program. The 72 teenagers, including 37 from Orange County, make up the foundation’s fifth fellowship class.

The 2022 California Dragon Fellows, calling themselves the Dragon Warriors, gather at the Dragon Kim Foundation office in Irvine for their first leadership training weekend in preparation to launch their community projects this summer. (Photo by Justin Kuo/Dragon Kim Foundation)

Serving as a social entrepreneurship incubator for high school students, the foundation inspires teens to serve their communities while discovering and pursuing their passions.

The creative social service projects were culled from those submitted by 297 teens from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds and ethnicities attending 33 high schools in Arizona, California and Nevada.

Teens propose projects that channel their talents and interests into a community service project. Among this year’s projects are a hand-washing aid invention to prevent the spread of disease, a grief counseling workbook for youth and a lifestyle podcast for the visually impaired.

The teams receive three weekends of leadership training and hands-on guidance from invested professionals. This year, 39 mentors come from companies like Edwards Lifesciences, Choice Leadership University, Google, UCI School of Business, SCORE Orange County, Kingston Technology, Nestle, Pacific Life, JOYA Scholars and IGT.

This summer, the teams will implement their projects, supported by grants of up to $5,000 from the foundation.

At the end of the program, the top teams will present their projects to a panel of judges at the annual Dragon Challenge, to be held Sept. 8. One team will win additional funding to continue their project.

– Submitted by Dan Pittman

Volunteer Assisteens leave mark in Irvine

Assisteens are getting back to in-person activities, including Library Craft Days the first Saturday of each month at University Park Library in Irvine, now that COVID-19 restrictions have been loosening up.

Assisteens, the teen auxiliary of Assistance League of Irvine, worked with the OC Parks restoration program to help improve the environment.(Photo by MacKenzie Lee)
Assisteens, the teen auxiliary of Assistance League of Irvine, work on kits with home supplies to be donated to HomeAid Orange County.(Photo by Janice Jim)

Established in 1995, Assisteens is the teen auxiliary of Assistance League of Irvine. Its 89-teen membership is made up of boys and girls in grades 7-12. Teens are given opportunities to volunteer within their community while learning leadership and organizational skills.

Their projects include preparing school supply kits for students in need attending Irvine Unified School District schools; sewing blankets for premature babies in the Kaiser Permanente Irvine NICU; working at the Orange County Great Park Farm + Food Lab; and providing towel sets, self-care kits and crafts for women and children staying at the Human Options shelter for domestic-abuse victims.

Over the past two years, many of Assisteens’ 15 philanthropic programs have been altered to help ensure the health and safety of its members. Creative ways were used to continue serving the community with goodie bags, decorations and cards for assisted living residents, families staying at the Ronald McDonald House, and Human Options shelter residents.

Assisteens also sewed face masks at home for Assistance League of Irvine’s Operation School Bell program for students in need and helped maintain the environment with OC Parks and beach cleanup days.

The group welcomes new members in grades 7-9. To learn more about joining Assisteens, contact aliteenmembership@gmail.com.

– Submitted by Ella Wong

OC students win cash for documentaries in C-SPAN competition

Irvine and Rancho Santa Margarita students take home prizes in C-SPAN’s national 2022 StudentCam competition.

Amber Khauv and Sharon Chen, students at Portola High School and Orange County School of the Arts in Irvine, took third place in C-SPAN’s national 2022 StudentCam competition for their documentary “The Lasting Impact of Space Travel.”(Photo courtesy of C-SPAN)

Sharon Chen and Amber Khauv, students at Portola High School and Orange County School of the Arts in Irvine, will receive $750 as third-place winners for the documentary “The Lasting Impact of Space Travel.”

Kaleel Nabi, a student at Las Flores Middle School in Rancho Santa Margarita, placed third in C-Span’s student video competition for his documentary, “Government in the Age of Machines.”(Photo courtesy of C-SPAN)

Kaleel Nabi, a student at Las Flores Middle School in Rancho Santa Margarita, will receive $750 as a third-place winner for the documentary “Government in the Age of Machines.”

The competition, now in its 18th year, invited all middle and high school students to enter by producing a short documentary. C-SPAN, in cooperation with its cable television partners, asked students to explore a federal policy or program and address the theme “How does the federal government impact your life?”

In response, more than 3,000 students from across the country and beyond participated in the contest. C-SPAN received more than 1,400 entries from 41 states; Washington, D.C.; Morocco; and South Korea.

The most popular topics addressed were environment and pollution, health care and mental health, COVID-19 and recovery, immigration, and Second Amendment and firearm legislation.

“The winners showcased exceptional research and production values as they wove personal stories with historical or contemporary issues. These middle and high school students far exceeded our expectations, and we are elated to share their hard work with the country,” said Craig McAndrew, director of C-SPAN Education Relations.

The 150 winning videos can be viewed at studentcam.org.

Family honors a legend by giving back to community

Orange County-based legendary Samoan musician Jerome Fa’anānā Grey wrote the song “We Are Samoa,” the unofficial anthem for the country.

Legendary Samoan musician Jerome Fa’anānā Grey. His children are honoring him by raising funds benefiting the Pacific Islanders community.(Photo courtesy of We Are Samoa)

Now his children are honoring him through giving back. Many of them are Mater Dei High School alums: Loa, a singer and lead guitarist with the band FAIVA; Sisa, a singer and an actress whose credits include “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Hawaii Five-0” and “NCIS Las Vegas”; Ana, a business owner; and Mata, lead guitarist in the band Common Kings.

The inaugural We Are Samoa Diamond Gala celebrated 75 years of Jerome Fa’anānā Grey and raised funds to support the Pacific Islander community and the National Pacific Islander Education Network.

The event raised more than $142,000, which will be divided equally and will go to academic scholarships (through the National Pacific Islander Education Network), performing arts scholarships (through the Jerome Grey Performing Arts Fund), and toward creating programs for diabetes and heart disease awareness in honor of the siblings’ mother, whom they lost to diabetes in 2019.

“One of the things that stood out the most from this special evening is that it was the first of its kind for the Pacific Islander community,” said Ana Grey Niumata.

Westminster High School students win national finance competition

Westminster High School students won first place in Virtual Enterprises’ National Finance Competition. The educational nonprofit provides students with the opportunity to start and run a simulated business.

Westminster High School students Chelsea Nguyen, Thao Le, Kerwin Phan and Rachel Nguyen won first place in Virtual Enterprises’ National Finance Competition with their simulated hair care company, ROOTS.(Photo courtesy of Virtual Enterprises International)

The competition took place during Virtual Enterprises’ annual Youth Business Summit (YBS), a week of virtual and in-person business competitions, leadership events, and an International Trade Show, which drew more than 1,000 in-person and 10,000 online participants who showcased their companies and engaged in trade with their local, national and global peers.

Last September, the Westminster High School students launched ROOTS, a simulated hair care company that promotes diversity by catering to different hair types with products offering natural ingredients and sustainable packaging.

For the past several months, Westminster students entered their financial plan for ROOTS in VE’s local, regional and state competitions and won each time.

Their success led them to the final round of VE’s National Finance Competition on April 5 at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus, where they competed against 40 other finalists.

The National Finance Competition required teams of accounting and finance employees from each VE company to deliver an oral presentation to judges addressing their company’s financial highlights while explaining financial statements and internal controls.

Irvine resident celebrates 106th birthday

Irvine resident Mary Remo recently celebrated her 106th birthday with a special performance by an opera singer.

Mary Frances Conover sang Remo’s favorites, from Puccini and Offenbach to Rodgers and Hammerstein, at a party at Brookdale Senior Living Irvine.

Remo grew up in the Bronx, New York, and has a high school education. She was a homemaker who raised three boys.

Her hobbies include opera and Yankee baseball.

Remo’s advice for a long life is to stay active every day.

The Bravo! section highlights achievements of our residents and groups. Send news of achievements for consideration to ocrbravo@gmail.com.