Teenager finds fulfillment in ‘Kaylin’s Caring Konnection’
Young Entrepreneur of the Year
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Sitting nearby, Priscilla Jean-Louis was calm and collected as she watched her daughter weave her way through a recent interview.
It wasn’t the first time Jean-Louis had seen her daughter aptly handle herself with the media. Kaylin Jean-Louis didn’t need any coaxing. Her endeavors as an advocate for people in need have had her in the spotlight for a few years now.
Things could get even more hectic for the 15-year-old 10th grader at Florida High. She wouldn’t mind but the celebrity isn’t what she is striving for.
The satisfaction comes in knowing her work with Kaylin’s Caring Konnection makes life much better for others when they need uplifting most. She’s established a website, where she posts her drives –for food, clothes, toys or simply fundraising.
Her benevolence and commitment to a project that she operates like a business has earned her the Young Entrepreneur of the Year honor from the Capital Outlook.
“I feed off smiles and just people saying ‘thank you.’ I don’t have to get a huge recognition,” she said, although expressing gratitude for the honor from the Outlook. “My main thing is I want to see people smile.
“People go through so much, especially this year with everything happening with the pandemic. I wanted to be able to let people know that as long as they are going through anything they’re loved.”
As if the drives that she undertakes aren’t enough, Jean-Louis airs “Inspiring Moment with Kaylin” on podcast. She’s added a bit of irony to the project by using her birth month and day for the start time of the Sunday podcast, which begins at 7:21 p.m.
Since launching KCK in 2016, she’s put on a teddy bear drive annual as part of a partnership with Tallahassee Memorial Hospital Foundation.
How she got started doing for others dates back to her childhood. She recalled how her mother would encourage her and her sister to help other on Christmas day before they could open their gifts.
The principle stuck, and there is no slowing her down, despite having a loaded personal agenda. Consider: she is president of Future Business Leaders of America at her school, she also heads up the youth council at Life Changers International Church of God in Christ, and she plays saxophone with Florida High’s symphonic and jazz bands.
Academically Kaylin doesn’t miss a beat, working her way to honor-roll status. Plans don’t call for her letting up during the summer, either as she intends to dual enroll at Tallahassee Community College.
Kaylin is quick to explain that her success comes from a higher power because it’s “something I can depend and rely on.”
Pastor Judy Mandrell, Co-Pastor of Life Changers International Church of God in Christ, said Kaylin has been able to help young people in the church work through issues.
Many times she assures young people they could succeed, using herself as an example, Mandrell said.
“She can influence the youths to get involved in ministry and also to go after their dreams,” Mandrell said. “She can influence them to try things that seem hard.”
Encouraging her peers is something that Kaylin said she feels compelled to do because so many of them appear “upset with the world.”
Mandrell sees Kaylin as one who gives her generation hope for the better, though.
“The things she is doing now is to better today and tomorrow. I know a lot of people see the next generation as almost hopeless,” Mandrell said. “Well, Kaylin brings hope for the other children and other young people who are doing what she is doing as far as building our future. It gives you hope when you look at people like Kaylin that our world is going to be OK.”
Working behind the scene of Kaylin’s project is her mother. She’s taken on the title of “mom-ager” with a lengthy list of responsibilities that include producing Kaylin’s podcast, handling public relations and the logistics of each drive.
She’s not shying away.
“I’m just a believer as a parent that when your child has a vision you do whatever you can to support it; make it happen,” Jean-Louis said.
There could be much more ahead for Kaylin. Her mother is engaged in conversation with the American Association of Caregiving Youth, with the goal of becoming an affiliate. The idea, which stems from Pricilla being caregiver for her mother and grandmother, is gaining traction.
This week she wrapped up the KCK Youth Caregivers Awareness Drive. Additionally, a pastor in Austin, Texas, has shown interest in having Kaylin do a virtual presentation to young people about caregiving.
Kaylin smiled when the topics came up as if to say bring it on.
“I always strive to make a difference,” she said. “It allows me to know I’m actually making a difference rather than just saying it.”
Admittedly, she finds it hard to refuse any call to volunteer.
“Generally, I try to say yeah,” she said. “If it’s possible and I can help do it, then I’m like, ‘Sure. I’m here to help.’