LOCAL NEWS

Utah teen receives Congressional Award Gold Medal for outstanding community service

Nov 24, 2023, 7:05 PM | Updated: Nov 25, 2023, 4:35 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah Teen has received a prestigious award from Congress. The honor took four years to achieve, involving hundreds of hours of volunteer and personal work, and it has made a difference for the high school seniors and the Salt Lake community.

Preparing a post-Thanksgiving Day meal Friday, Katie Kim sliced sausages and cut rolls in half as part of a lunch for homeless youth at the Volunteers of American (VOA) Youth Resource Center.

The 17-year-old West High School student spent her holiday break from school volunteering and helping others.

“I love coming into the kitchen and cooking because it’s really hands-on,” Katie said. “You get to meet people in person, serve them, really connect.”

Volunteering at the VOA and making meals for other teens her age who are displaced, is just one way Katie connects with people.

She has quite a list of other organizations and projects she’s involved in.

“One of the favorite ones I’ve done, was with Peace Through Music, which taught free music lessons to underserved youth around elementary school in Utah,” she said. Additionally, she has worked with children through the YouthCity Summer Program.

Katie is also on the Attorney General Youth Council, which she explained is a board of around 40 students from schools around Utah that gather to discuss issues impacting teens in the state.

“Last year, we did a little bit of drafting for potential laws to put into place,” she said. “For example, there were some about mental health in schools and water conservation.”

Plus, Katie is a member of the National Honor Society (NHS), National Charity League, and HOSA Future Health Professionals. She does work with each one of those organizations, like volunteering with other NHS students and Katie won first place in HOSA competitions for CPR/First Aid and Cultural Discrepancies and Disparities.

Katie also competes in the pool and is currently the Captain of the West High Swim Team. She was recently named the Heisman High School Scholar-Athlete Scholarship winner for Utah.

Not to mention, Katie is a talented pianist who teaches lessons, and she loves art. Her artwork was featured on a Utah Transit Authority bus as part of a competition for students to draw a picture about their community and showing why Utah is beautiful.

“It was about really embracing diversity,” Katie said, of her drawing submission featuring people from different backgrounds. “Going to West High, I really got exposed to so many different cultures that I wasn’t really aware were concentrated in Utah like that, so it was really exciting to be part of that.”

Over the past four years, Katie has volunteered more than 400 hours. This has included organizing clothing and hygiene kit drives for the VOA Youth Resource Center, plus her regular kitchen visits to serve meals. She accepted an invitation to help launch the VOA’s new Volunteer Ambassador Program, as the organization’s first official VOA Ambassador.

It’s no wonder that Congress awarded Katie The Congressional Award Gold Medal, their highest honor for civilian youth. According to the award program, participants must complete at least 400 hours of voluntary public service, 200 hours of personal development, 200 hours of physical fitness, and they must spend at least five days and four nights exploring a new environment or culture.

Katie planned a trip to Boston for that last requirement, learning all about our country’s history.

In June, Katie will fly to Washington DC to receive the medal at an award ceremony.

“The Congressional Gold Medal Award was really such an honor to get it because it really involved every part of my life– my working, my physical fitness, personal development, leadership, service,” Katie said.

Katie’s mom Jane Kim, who often volunteers with her daughter, said Katie began volunteering when she was 12, and it has become part of her life.

Jane chuckled thinking about the early Sunday mornings where volunteering at the VOA begins at 7:30 a.m. — Katie’s only morning of the week she could have slept in — but that her daughter does it anyway, and always finds it worthwhile.

“It’s great. It’s good for the community, it’s good for her, and I’m really happy. I’m proud of her,” Jane said.

Katie knows The Congressional Award Gold Medal award isn’t the real reward in all of this, though. She expressed how she enjoys meeting new people, helping others, and making a difference in those she serves.

She encourages others to get involved in their community as much as they can.

“I think it really helps to kind of go out of your comfort zone to connect with other people,” she said. “I think it’s taught me a lot about breaking out of my shell, and just connecting with the community.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Casings...

Mike Anderson

18 rounds fired in deadly Bountiful shooting

Bountiful Police were searching for a suspect in a deadly shooting where they say 18 shots were fired.

7 minutes ago

The trench that's apart of the new 115-acre reservoir project....

Shara Park

New reservoir to help southern Utah water supply moves closer to reality

A new source of water is one step closer to becoming a reality for residents in southern Utah's Washington County with the Chief Toquer Reservoir.

25 minutes ago

blue and red lights mixing from a police car...

Eliza Pace

Child hit by car in Tooele, take to Salt Lake hospital

A child was hit by a car and taken to the hospital by helicopter.

58 minutes ago

A proposed bill, HB351, would allow teen drivers to have a single friend in the car, which Utah's s...

Daniel Woodruff

New teen drivers still can’t have friends in car after Utah bill fails

Utah Senate Democrats scored a rare legislative victory this week when they defeated a bill loosening the law for new young drivers.

1 hour ago

The Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games...

Lisa Riley Roche, Deseret News

Details of Utah’s bid for the 2034 Olympics formally submitted by governor, mayor

In an instant, the key backers of Utah’s bid to host the 2034 Winter Games joined together to tap the submit button on a laptop in the ornate Gold Room of the state Capitol Thursday, sending thousands and thousands of pages of details about their hosting plans to the International Olympic Committee.

1 hour ago

Follow @KSL5TVLike us on Facebook...

Tamara Vaifanua

Data shows Black people are more likely to die of heart disease, cardiologist representation low

The U.S. has very few Black cardiologists, only 3%. There's a big push to recruit more Black students into the profession.

2 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Utah teen receives Congressional Award Gold Medal for outstanding community service