Andrew Semenza ‘18 and Millie Lin ‘18, at the behest of brother Jason Lin, grade 10, performed at a benefit concert on Aug. 19 along with friend Kevin Zhu, a Bay Area native and world-renown violinist. All proceeds went to the Tahirih Justice Center, a national nonprofit committed to serving as many immigrant women and girls fleeing violence as possible.
Jason Lin was the primary organizer of the event. “After debating immigration issues at debate camp, I went to a talk by the Tahirih Justice Center about their work regarding asylum seekers, and was moved by their message,” he said. “Although the TJC has a 99 percent success rate, they can only help one in 10 clients! Like many others at the talk, I was motivated to take action. Since my friend Kevin, a fantastic violinist, was about to come over to the Bay Area, and since Andy Semenza was also available, I decided to organize a benefit concert. My friends helped me get the show on the road.”
Millie Lin also had attended the talk. “We wanted to help the organization and the people it supports, especially at a time when the family separation issue at the U.S.-Mexico border was so critical … so we partnered with the Tahirih Justice Center to organize the concert,” she said.
“Five weeks later, after Jason’s frantic daily communications with Tahirih, volunteers and performers to organize the event, the concert was wonderfully successful. We far surpassed our fundraising goal of $15,000, reaching about $31,000 from numerous small donations. In addition to organizational help from Tahirih, the majority of the effort was truly youth-led, as Jason, performers and volunteers were all around high school age,” Millie added.
Jason noted the success was a group effort. “Spreading word of the concert was a challenge,” he said. “Everyone is constantly being bombarded with news and notifications, so it was difficult to let everyone know. However, the Tahirih Justice Center helped us contact a few local news organizations, and I assembled a small team of volunteers to help advertise. About nine fellow Harker student volunteers sold tickets with me. Some went door to door, some posted notices at farmers markets or libraries, some posted on social media – and with the support of the community, seats quickly sold out.
“Seeing the entire community come together for the concert and the enthusiasm of the group of volunteers in selling tickets and ushering guests made the whole effort worth it for me. It was immensely fulfilling to see our efforts come together for the concert. Thanks to the avid support of the community, the event was a huge success! None of this would have been possible without the volunteers, the performers or the community,” said Jason.
“Personally,” said Millie, “due to the great results and warm support, this event reinvigorated my belief in our local community’s potential to reach out and help others. As a bystander to much of the organizational process, I watched the wonderful enthusiasm of Jason and his fellow volunteers and friends in putting this all together, and I’m especially hopeful for the potential for those younger than me to accomplish great and good things in the future.”