2016 CKW LUXE STAR AWARDS
Leona Chen: Devoted Volunteer Who Is Always up for a Challenge
CKW Luxe is proud to announce that Leona Chen is our honoree for the Aurora Award. This award goes to a youth who has inspired greatness in others. The winner will embody the characteristics of selflessness: giving, compassion and understanding.
“Always do your best with the purest intentions in mind. No matter the outcome, the effort is what makes the person.” – Leona Chen
Leona Chen is a 15-year-old straight-A student at The Kinkaid School where she has been an Admissions Ambassador since 2014. She was the junior representative of the Bite of Kinkaid Club in 2014, and is the sophomore representative of the Bite of Kinkaid Club for 2016. She has also held the positon of advisory representative since 2014. During the 2015-2016 school year, Leona took part in the unique production of “Hairspray,” a joint effort of the Kinkaid School and G.W. Carver High School. This special production has garnered worldwide attention and was recently nominated for ten Tommy Tune awards, including Best Musical and Best Musical Direction.
Leona is a responsible student who is known for her dedication to academics and the arts and the manner in which she welcomes every challenge that comes her way. She is passionate about everything she does and approaches all her relationships and endeavors with kindness toward all.
Leona is dedicated to donating her time and talents to others. As one of nine founding members of the Asian American Youth Giving Circle, Leona is one of this year’s co-chairs. The nonprofit’s mission is to pool their resources and serve the Houston Asian American youth community through grants and volunteer opportunities.
Leona’s group consists of the youngest Asian American Giving Circle members in the United States, and it has achieved great things. Many organizations have benefitted from its monetary donations, including Amaanah Refugee Services, Adopt-A-Family, H O P E clinic, and schools like Collins Elementary. In addition, Leona and her group participate in hands-on activities and events. For instance, they sponsored the Collins Elementary Christmas party for its CSI program, and they sponsored two soccer teams for Amaanah Refugee Services for the Universal Soccer League (USL). The organization sponsored both an all-boys team and an all-girls team. What a lot of good these young people have done. They are to be congratulated for it.
For three years, from 2011 to 2014, Leona had the great pleasure of volunteering at the Gardens of Bellaire, an assisted living community. A few of the many activities she was involved in included bingo, crafting, making snacks, providing manicures, and having meaningful conversations with its residents. For the past four years, since 2011, Leona has helped out at the Annual Law Enforcement gala, which commemorates everyone involved in law enforcement in Fort Bend and Harris County. Hosted by the Guangdong Association, the event welcomes in the vicinity of 1,500 law enforcement officers a year. Another of Leona’s favorite nonprofits is Holiday Heroes, which helps socially disadvantaged families. Since 2012, every year at Christmas time, she and her family have purchased gifts for families in need who have been selected by the association. Also, since 2012, Leona has volunteered at Houston’s Chinese Lunar Moon Festival. Dubbed the largest Asian celebration in the state, it is a two-day festival featuring firework displays, world-class martial arts demonstrations, drum performances, amazing food, and much more. For the past three years, in conjunction with the festival, Leona has prepared and served authentic Chinese food to as many as 300 senior citizens.
Adding a new name to her volunteer roster, Leona will begin volunteering at the Learning Camp at the Kinkaid School, the MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the Texas Children’s Hospital this summer.
When Leona isn’t devoting her time to volunteering to help others or doing schoolwork, she is involved in the arts, most specifically learning all forms of dance. At the age of five, Leona learned one of her passions was dance when she discovered ballet, tap, and jazz, and enrolled in all three. Her desire to explore dance further led her to hip hop and she fell in love with its infectious moves and fun upbeat music. Today, Leona can devote up to twenty hours a week in the SoReal Performing Arts Center studio practicing for competitions and performances and taking classes. She performs and competes locally and out of state with her dance team, The Sandlot. Her dance awards include: Best of Texas, 2013—First Place; Valentine’s Bash, 2014—First Place; WOD Dallas Junior Division, 2015—Second Place, and Valentine’s Bash, 2016—Second Place. The opportunity of a lifetime came when Leona was selected for the Houston flash mob for the “Step Up Revolution” movie.
Because of her love of trying new things and her determination to keep learning, Leona tested the waters of music with piano; violin; and guzheng, a traditional Chinese string instrument. She has also enjoyed learning tennis, skiing, gymnastics, and badminton.
Leona understands what it means to help others. Through her own Youth Giving Circle that has assisted so many young people and worthy organizations, to the associations she devotes her time to, Leona, at a very early age, has learned what it means to give back along with the rewards it can bring. Even though she is busy with school commitments, academics, and dance, Leona devotes a large amount of her time to helping those who need it.
CKW Luxe would like to congratulate Leona Chen on being the Aurora Award honoree. As the embodiment of the award, Leona sets an example of dedicated commitment to her community, her school, and herself by never backing down when being faced with a challenge and by giving of herself to others.