July, 20 2018

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Jefferson Award Winner

Jenny Cook is not your normal teenager. She was once homeless and dropped out of high school. But the 18-year-old isn't letting those obstacles hold her down. In fact, she's helping others get through tough times.

Several times a week, you'll find Jenny Cook behind this desk at the Bowden Youth Center, "Thanks for calling TEEN HELP line, how can I help you?"

She sometimes spends hours listening to other teen's troubles, "Kids can call in and talk to their peers about homework problems and boyfriend problems."

But Cook wasn't always on the giving end of these calls.

Cook said, "I got into trouble myself. A lot of trouble here and there."

At 14, that trouble caught up with her. A judge gave her a sentence of probation, if she volunteered.

"I didn't want to be here at first, the staff grew on me so I kept on coming back to see them and then one mentioned to me hey be a peer educator."

As excited as she was to HELP others, she wasn't done helping herself, "My junior year things feel apart between home, school and I just had enough no more school, I'm out. I quit."

But quitting really wasn't an option because through her experiences, she had grown into a confident young woman and a role model.

"It worked for me and it made me feel good to volunteer and give back to my community."

Cook also works with the Street Outreach Program that helps the homeless.

And if you're wondering about her education, she finished her GED this past fall and plans to go to college sometime soon.

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