BALTIMORE. Md. (WJZ) — Karen Sun, a recent Johns Hopkins University graduate, is getting recognition for her commitment to serving her community.

It’s all part of Catholic Charities’ virtual week-long celebration, which kicks off Monday and honors several individuals for their exemplary service to neighbors in need.

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“My mom was an immigrant mother who worked super hard to take care of my sister, so I saw a lot of struggles and difficulties she personally had gone through,” Sun said.

Sun, the recipient of the Anne Lindsey Otenasek Youth Service Award, said she was inspired by the powerful women who have left a lasting impression on her.

“I wanted to be able to support undeserved women coming to college because I had a lot of strong female role models in my life growing up,” Sun said.

Sun has spent the past four years juggling her studies at Johns Hopkins and her community service at My Sister’s Place women’s center in Baltimore, where she works with impoverished women and children.

“I realized how fortunate I’ve been to have a lot of these opportunities, and I think I just really want to be able to give back because I’ve met some of the strongest, most resilient women through My Sister’s Place,” she said.

It was that selfless dedication that led Catholic Charities to recognize Sun with the Anne Lindsey Otenasek Youth Service Award.

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The award is named in memory of Anne Lindsey Otenasek, an energetic Catholic Charities volunteer who was killed in the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. The award is given to high school or college students that demonstrate her commitment to helping others.

“She’s been absolutely extraordinary, both really stepping into action prior to (the pandemic), but even thinking about the needs of the ladies that use My Sister’s Place as a place of shelter and rest and care,” said Bill McCarthy, executive director of Catholic Charities.

A humbled Sun said the award doesn’t just belong to her but also to her fellow volunteers at the shelter.

“I really want to recognize the staff though at My Sister’s Place, who do this every day and I feel like I hope they can get the recognition they deserve because it’s extremely hard work being able to just show up for these women and seeing the difficulties and struggles they go through,” Sun said.

She hopes others in the community will feel inspired to follow in her footsteps.

“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have been able to volunteer here and support the women, but also I’m super grateful that they’ve allowed me to be a part of their journey,” said Sun. “Which is why I’m committed to continue serving this population and other resilient women in the future.”

Catholic Charities of Baltimore is Maryland’s largest provider of human services with more than 80 programs in 200 locations.

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The organization serves children and families experiencing homelessness and poverty, immigrants, individuals with intellectual disabilities and seniors.