2019 Weston Winner: Samuel Thompson
Samuel Thompson is a longtime community leader who created a walking event in the heart of Northeast Portland focused specifically on Black and African American health called “Next Level Health Walk”. Using Northeast Sunday Parkways’ walking-only segment provided an opportunity to connect people to culturally specific healthcare providers, vendors, community resources, great music and fun. Samuel saw the opportunity and ran (or walked) with it. Next Level Health Walk also provided space to celebrate community and reconnect in a neighborhood that has so much history and importance to Portland’s Black community.
This walk was a catalyst to incorporate more walking programming in one of the city’s biggest summer events AND is also an example of how culturally specific events are popular and necessary.
So who is Samuel “Be Great” Thompson?
Mr. Thompson was raised by his mother Karen Jackson with his younger sister Kaycee Reddick. Samuel graduated from Ulysses S. Grant High School in 1999 and entered Columbia Basin College (WA) on a basketball scholarship and continuing his basketball journey at Grossmont College (El Cajon, CA).
After years of chasing his hoop and entertainment dreams, Samuel returned to Portland, OR in 2007 and accepted a job as an In-School Coordinator at Self Enhancement Inc at his alma mater Grant High School.
Samuel has worked with Multnomah County as a Case Manager in the Kids Developmental Disability Department and as a Restorative Justice Coordinator at Resolutions Northwest. Samuel returned to SEI in 2016 to help launch the SEI Alumni Program as the SEI Alumni Coordinator. Thompson is a Restorative Justice Coordinator at Madison High School. Sam created Restore the Village in 2010 after the death of one of his students Andre Dupree Payton. Restore the Village created community forums to discuss issues affecting the African American community in Portland to create action-based solutions. Samuel also founded NextLevel Sports and Entertainment which hosts clothing and coat drives, basketball camps, back to school drives, community events and BBQ’s.
Samuel is also on the Good in The Hood Planning Committee and is the Annual Good In The Hood Host. Samuel hosts numerous community events, concerts and comedy shows throughout the NW. Thompson motivates the Black and African American community around a subject he is passionate about, staying active.
He is also a Proud Father to the amazingly cute 3-year-old JaySeon Erskine Eldrick Thompson, who he will teach what it means to be of service to those in your community who look like you.