SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — For Reed Malcolm, the best part of volunteering with younger children is that it’s never felt like work.
Whether it was serving as a Big Brother, teaching children chess or working at Lima’s Safety City, it always just seemed fun.
“It never really felt like a job to go out and help the kids,” said Malcolm, a 17-year-old senior at Shawnee High School. “Sometimes I’m having as much fun as they are.”
Malcolm is one of the 12 local Jefferson Awards winners, and he’s one of the four youth winners. The winners are being profiled in The Lima News and each will receive money to donate to a favorite cause during the streaming awards show Thursday night.
Malcolm said his most “impactful” volunteerism has been through Big Brothers/Big Sisters at his school. He formed bonds with middle school students, serving as a mentor during the once-a-week session.
“I have a few kids that have had similar interests, whether it’s video games or int terms of academics,” Malcolm said. “It’s been kind of fulfilling. I see a lot of potential in these kids. I kind of identify with them. It’s really cool to see where they’re going to go.”
It’s also been cool to watch Malcolm with the youngsters, said LeAnn Pryor, program director with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of West Central Ohio. She described his humor as “quirky,” a term Malcolm accepted to describe his dry wit.
“Reed and (his current “little brother”) don’t have as much in common on the surface,” Pryor said. “But personality-wise and humor-wise, they clicked. They’ve been so accepting of each other, and it’s been wonderful to watch.”
His ease in working with children was evident to Cecilia Koh, who got to know Malcolm through his volunteerism with chess clubs through the Shawnee schools and Lima Public Library. His father, Ken Malcolm, coached chess and taught him the game, but the son learned how to communicate well with young players.
“For example, at the end of the game, he explained how the winner’s moves led to victory and what the opponent could have done to avoid checkmate,” Koh wrote in her nomination letter. “No teasing or crying after each game was another key lesson he taught these young boys. But respect for each other is one of the most important lessons he taught.”
He also plays piano with the Lima Area Youth Orchestra and volunteers with the West Ohio Food Bank.
Malcolm plans to attend Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, in the fall. He said he hasn’t chosen his major yet, but he’s considering something in medicine. He’s also a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program.
“He has demonstrated that he will always not only expand his knowledge, love and compassion to others, but also will help expand the knowledge of those around him,” Koh wrote. “We are so lucky to have him in our community.”