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Mom of slain student forms group to honor son

It’s been a little more than a year since Jared Padgett fired an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle at Reynolds High School students, staff and faculty and a little more than a year since Jennifer Hoffman lost her son, Emilio, to the violence that day.

Although the reason Padgett picked up a gun that June morning and took it to school, killing Emilio and wounding a teacher before killing himself, is unknown, Hoffman believes mental health played a role.

“It hasn’t been confirmed, but I believe mental health did have a part to do with me losing my son,” she said.

Her belief led Hoffman to form Emilio Inc., an organization dedicated to outreach, education and maintaining an ongoing dialogue about mental health.

“I just strongly believe there has to be a change in our schools and in our community and just everywhere, about people coming together, loving one another and doing kind things for one another.”OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Jennifer Hoffman receives the 2015 Troutdale Lions Humanitarian of the Year award Saturday, July 18, at the Troutdale SummerFest celebration at Glenn Otto Park.

Nearing its one-year mark, Emilio Inc. has drawn attention from the community, which led Troutdale Lions Club to name Hoffman its 2015 Humanitarian of the Year.

“I’ve completely thrown myself into this organization because we need a change,” Hoffman said. “Not just for Emilio, but for every kid in this community.”

When she found out about the award, Hoffman thought it was for her son.

“I thought they were talking about Emilio and wanted to honor Emilio,” she said. “I was pretty surprised and grateful and honored. I know people are saying, ‘Jennifer, you’re so strong. You’re doing great things in the community,’ but I don’t really feel we’ve reached our goals. I still feel we have a long way to go, but I’m very honored that people are recognizing we are doing stuff.”

Emilio Inc. has been involved with community activities, including creating “love rocks” — small rocks decorated with hearts and given as an act of kindness — and having a presence at Troutdale SummerFest. The organization also will host its second soccer tournament Aug. 8-9.

The tournament is a memorial to her son, who loved soccer and wanted to play for the high school’s varsity team.

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