Beyond Samsungwon Orphanage and Emmanuel Children’s Home, KKOOM continues to invest in the lives of the children who grow up in South Korean orphanages. Directly, KKOOM financially supports young adults to attend college with a 700,000 KRW (approximately $651) each semester to use towards college funds.
Taehyun and Sunghyun grew up at Samsungwon Orphanage and started college in March 2018. Recently, they were accepted into Oak Tree Project’s college mentoring program. Oak Tree Project is a non-profit organization based in Seoul, South Korea, and its scholarship and mentoring program help Korean orphans after they graduate from high school with emotional support and financial aid. This programs keeps the students accountable and helps them succeed until graduation.
Taehyun and Sunghyun are the 2nd and 3rd students to be accepted into Oak Tree’s program from Samsungwon Orphanage. The Samsungwon house mothers and orphanage staff poured into their lives since they arrived at Samsungwon as toddlers. Taehyun will be attending KyungWoon University with the dream of becoming a flight attendant, and Sunghyun will be attending Chungju National University to study architecture. KKOOM’s President and Co-founder, Aimee Jachym, has known both young men since they were in preschool. She describes them as follows:
“Taehyun was ‘eagle boy’ to me for a number of years. Erika (KKOOM’s other Co-founder) and I were hosting our biweekly playtime with toys purchased by American friends and donors in Samsungwon’s 2nd floor general purpose room in 2005, and Taehyun came over with a bird-like block creation, shouting ‘eagle, eagle, eagle’ and jumping up and down. Erika and I wondered where he had learned ‘eagle’ of all things. It turns out, he had been having some exposure to English at his preschool. Perhaps the reference to flight was a foreshadowing of Taehyun’s desire to build his career serving others as a flight attendant in the sky.”
“Sunghyun, on the other hand, was more quiet and reserved at our playtime sessions. He was clearly the baby of his room’s family at Samsungwon, and his house mom showed a deep, maternal affection for him. He was often more reserved in his interactions, but it was hard for him to hide his curiosity about the world. I think his favorite activity was painting his toenails back in 2005. Now, it’s probably sleeping because of all of the studying and hard work he’s had to put in to gain admission to a national university studying in a highly competitive major (architecture). For me, one of the most rewarding things to see is how kind and patient Sunghyun is with his younger siblings at Samsungwon; he definitely pays forward the affection and love that he’s been shown.”
“KKOOM is incredibly proud, and so am I, of Taehyun and Sunghyun. In many ways, they were and are ‘our babies,’ young children we’ve been fortunate to support from the start. With the help of our friends and donors, they’ve grown up with positive memories of KKOOM Christmas parties, summer camps, and field trips. They’ve benefitted from the example of their older orphanage siblings going off to college and getting successful jobs. They’ve overcome immense challenges on their own and with the help of others, including KKOOM. And most importantly, they’re equipped for success, because of what lies within themselves and because of the support they’ve been given.”
KKOOM partners with Oak Tree Project by providing financial assistance to their programs and events, such as quarterly meetings held for their mentors and college students. We recently sent them funding to plan their 3rd annual retreat to help their iron chef meal activity for 35 young adults, staff, and mentors. We proudly support this organization as they help increase success for Korean high school students beyond graduation and help provide a positive community during their collegiate career. Congratulations Sunghyun and Taehyun on being accepted into Oak Tree Project’s Mentoring Program!