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The contagious spirit of Megan Johnson: Charity founder lands speaking gig in South Korea
Megan Johnson is barely 19 years old and already has accomplished more than most people.
The Federal Way resident learned the hard way that not everyone shares her gift for loving others.
Johnson was teased as a child for her looks.
“I went through it every day in elementary school,” Johnson said. “But we’re all different, we’re all human beings.”
By age 10, Johnson had started her own non-profit, “Megan’s Mission.” She gives out scarves, blankets and hats to the homeless during the cold winter months. To fund her work, Johnson sells cider each year at Christmastime outside her family home, located in a neighborhood that goes all out with Christmas lights. Each year, she makes about $4,000 in donations as the crowds creep through her neighborhood to look at the lights.
Johnson also writes children’s books, in part to raise money for Megan’s Mission and Shriners Hospital for Children, where Johnson has undergone 25 surgeries. The books also spread a message that it’s not nice to bully someone, especially just because they’re different. Johnson has written and illustrated three books so far. But it’s Johnson’s next adventure that has her really excited.
At a recent speaking engagement in Toronto, Johnson learned she had been invited to speak at the Korean Prudential Spirit of Community Service Awards in South Korea. Johnson was named a top youth volunteer by the Prudential Sprit of Community Awards earlier this year in Washington, D.C.
“It’s a huge honor,” she said. “It means a lot to me that I get to go to my birth country to speak.”
Johnson and her mom depart for South Korea on Sept. 2. The experience will give Johnson some time to improve her Korean. She can already read and write the language, but isn’t quite fluent in speaking it yet.
And she gets to stay at a five-star hotel, the kind where, as Johnson puts it, “important people” stay.
Johnson’s mom, Jill, says her daughter is always traveling and this is just another adventure.
“She’s met presidents, she’s gone out of this country, all these things she’s done and she’s barely 19,” Jill said.
Johnson is still working on other goals. She graduated this spring as valedictorian from Highline Choice Academy and is already enrolled at Highline Community College, where she will finish her science and statistics courses. Her goal is to attend Washington State University for nursing school. She wants to be a pediatric nurse.
Her senior project brought a new group into Megan’s Mission — prisoners. Johnson partnered with the Monroe Correctional Complex. The prisoners have embraced making sock hats for Johnson to hand out during the winter as well as at Shriners.
“They make all these wonderful and colorful sock hats,” Johnson said. “You don’t really think prisoners would be good at making a sock hat. You think it would be something a woman would do. But even though they are behind bars, they are giving back to society, they are really enthusiastic about it.”
What keeps Johnson going? Her philosophy on life.
“There are two options I could have done: Feel sorry for yourself, or get up and turn life into a positive. That keeps me going. I couldn’t help how I looked, that was just how God made me. A big thing I’ve learned is never let others dictate the way you feel about yourself.”
Learn more about Megan’s Mission: www.megansmission.freeservers.com/index.html.