A Shining Star from Jubilee REACH

Helen first came to Jubilee REACH in 2008 when she was in 8th grade at Tillicum Middle School.

Her name, “Helen” derives from ancient Greek and has the meaning “shining light.” From a single parent, immigrant family and the eldest of four children, Helen carried a lot of responsibility at home and still applied herself to academics at school. At first, she was somewhat reserved, but over time she connected to other students and volunteers at Jubilee REACH. Helen developed more confidence, became a student leader, and soon embraced life as a grand adventure. She gained the courage to let her light shine! A bit of Helen’s story in her own words:

“From eighth grade and all throughout high school, I was an active participant in the Jubilee REACH after school program. JR helped me thrive and reach my potential as a student and leader.  It gave me a safe place to do my homework, provided snacks, and encouraged me to get help from friends and volunteers. I went to JR daily for five years and along the way my younger siblings attended as well.


I especially enjoyed the Art Studio, led by Ms. Julie, which gave me the opportunity to develop leadership skills by becoming President of the Art Club. Then I went to the JR summer internship program which provided me with initial career experience. It was a place where I developed long-lasting friendships.  


Being a part of JR boosted my self-confidence because I was around people who believed in me and my potential – they supported my academic goals. Eventually, I achieved a 3.97 GPA and several college scholarships. These achievements wouldn’t have been possible without going to JR every day and taking advantage of its resources, such as tutoring. When I was in the tenth grade, JR matched me with a volunteer tutor, Brenda Thompson, and she continues to help me to this day. 


I also continue to benefit every day from my time at JR because they helped me acquire a car through the Auto Angels at BelPres Church. This transportation makes it possible for me to live at home and assist my family daily even while I’m in school.


I’ve recently returned from two months studying in Morocco, and I’m now entering my senior year at UW Bothell where I’m carrying a 3.93 GPA. My major is Society, Ethics & Human Behavior, and I’m minoring in Human Rights. At JR, I realized the importance of elevating socio-economically marginalized groups in order to help build a stronger and healthier community. That has inspired my goal to eventually work in a non-profit community organization after graduation. JR has had a tremendous impact on my life and on my family. I hope to reciprocate for all the support.”

Helen’s story illuminates the impact of Jubilee REACH over nine years. Our work is enduring rather than episodic. Committed volunteers serve by coming alongside students and families to invest the time and resources to lift others up. After ten years, we’re beginning to see the work mature and there is a bright future ahead.

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