Transparent Fish Fund focuses most of our philanthropy in Asia, but we support a number of non-profits in the US as well. This past week, we had a chance to visit one of our favorite organizations located in the East Bay, The Jenny Lin Foundation. The non-profit holds a youth music camp every summer, completely fee of cost for their participants. At the end of their camp, they hold a free summer concert and give out scholarships to promising young musicians.
The Jenny Lin Foundation Summer Music Camp is located this year in the suburbs of the East Bay, at Canyon Middle School. At around 7pm, hundreds of students start lining up at front of the school, instruments in hand, wearing various types of athletic-wear and black framed glasses.
Board member Pat Lee explained that everyone was going along with today's rehearsal theme: "Nerds vs. Jocks", and weekly dress-ups are just one of the ways to get youth to bond as a group and bring a little more fun to music camp. "We start out the camp with a couple people dressed up, not much enthusiasm. But by the end of the summer, nearly everyone is participating and having fun with these themes". The amount of attention and care put into for this program was heartwarming, especially knowing that the camp is run entirely by volunteers.
Youth Music Camp is split into three sections - Band, Symphonic Orchestra, and Choir. With this year's enrollment hitting over 350, each room is packed with students. In the hot summer heat, it's surprising that these students are choosing to spend their vacation sitting in rehearsals. Mrs. Lin explains, "Camp is actually fun for these kids. Summer is a time where young people can play music without the pressure that exists in the school year. We want youth to have a space where youth can express their creativity with their peers. They meet people from different schools and bond through music". However, this does not mean participating in music camp is all fun and games, students here are committed. Mrs. Lin had a mother report that her daughter was practicing more than she does in the school year. "Our directors here are incredible teachers that volunteer their time for this camp. They push the kids and require a lot from them. And the kids enjoy improving musically."
In addition to playing musical instruments at camp, youth can also participate in their Student Coordinator leadership team. This is one of the most meaningful programs of the 6 weeks. Through an interview process, the summer's leadership team is selected to organize some of the programs and logistics of the week. "We have some of the shyest kids come in to the program, and few years later, they are interviewing for Student Coordinator position, taking responsibility, and really coming out of their shell". College freshman Jocelyn Ha remembers her experience as Student Coordinator, "The staff really trusted the student leadership and you wanted to be there because you were given the opportunity. I have been in the program for 5 years and it was definitely the highlight of my experience".
Six weeks of hard work all lead up to the 2014 Jenny Lin Summer Concert. On the night of the concert, Chabot College Performing Arts Center was packed. ABC7 News anchor Cheryl Jennings hosted the event, as she has been a long supporter of the foundation after she first heard of Mr and Mrs Lin's cause. A number of community leaders were also present to support and connect with families and young people. At the end of the night, handmade necklaces were being sold for donations, gifts were raffled off and a number of music scholarships were given out to excellent camp participants.
Watching people stream out of the concert hall, taking pictures and catching up with friends, it's hard to imagine 20 years ago, the Music Camp had only 30 participants. It was 1994 when Mr. and Mrs. Lin tragically lost their 14 year old daughter Jenny Lin. To remember her and her passion for music, the Jenny Lin Foundation was created in memory of their love for their daughter. As Jenny Lin Foundation's biggest sponsor, we are honored to be apart of this successful community development program and encourage all donors and music-lovers to join us in supporting their mission.
For more information about Summer Youth Camp or to help out the Jenny Lin Foundation, visit their website:
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