Memorial picnic honors life of homeless advocate Rev. Jean Kim

Attendees enjoy picnic fare Saturday.

Dozens gathered Saturday afternoon to honor the life of the Rev. Dr. Jean Kim, a local advocate who worked to educate and shelter those experiencing homelessness.

Around 50 people came together for a memorial picnic to remember Kim, founder of the Jean Kim Foundation For The Homeless Education, who died in her home on July 3. She was 86 years old.

The event took place at the former Lynnwood emissions test station, which was repurposed last year as a hygiene center for those who are homeless. Visitors can use the restroom, get a shower and pick up basic hygiene products, food and clothes.

Known as “the pastor in purple,” Kim was born the youngest of three in 1935 to a wealthy family in North Korea. In 1946, her family moved to South Korea as refugees having fled the North Korean Communist regime. She emigrated to the United States with her husband in 1970. She obtained her master’s degree in social work in 1977, was ordained at 52 years old and eventually earned her Doctor of Ministry degree at age 71.

The Jean Kim Foundation was established in 2015 and offers six options to support students who are currently homeless or at risk of homelessness. Through the foundation, students receive help enrolling in college and access to apprenticeship, vocational skills and literacy programs.  Read ore about Kim in our earlier story here.

A photo of Dr. Kim was displayed to honor her memory.

During the picnic, Kim was remembered for her kindness, spirituality and fierce dedication to helping others. 

“She was a very spiritual lady,” said Jarel Stringer, who said he used to speak with Kim about God and religion.

The foundation also runs Shepherd’s Village, which provides temporary housing for homeless students on land donated by Lynnwood’s Good Shepherd Baptist Church. Former student Risa Meinke spoke about supporters’ efforts to get Lynnwood City Council approval for the tiny homes and how the project was approved thanks to Kim’s efforts.

“(The council) didn’t approve it the first time around but somehow she got those tiny homes approved,” she said.

Maplewood Presbyterian Church Pastor Doug Deuksil recalled Kim’s work that led to the creation of Nest Mission — a Lynnwood-based nonprofit organization made up of Korean-American church leaders to support those experiencing homelessness.

Maizy Brown, a case manager at Edmonds College who works with at-risk teens, recalled the impact Kim had on students when she would visit. 

“She was just attracted to so much love,” she said.

Though Kim is gone, Jean Kim Foundation Board Gov. Joan Jolly said they will continue to do her work.

“We will never be able to do it like Jean did, but please do know that we will always do what we can in her memory,” she said.

More information on the Jean Kim Foundation for Homeless Education can be found at jeankimfoundation.org.

— Story and photos by Cody Sexton

  1. I had the pleasure of being with Pastor Kim when we volunteered at Neighbors In Need at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lynnwood. She was an extremely kind and caring person. RIP, Pastor Kim.

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