LYNN — A bidding process worthy of anything on “Shark Tank” led to the donation of $300 by KIPP Academy students to the Lynn Rapid Response Network — a group established to help immigrants who might be affected by the increased attention being given to undocumented aliens.
According to Peter Lauenstein of the group Votathon, which aims to get youth engaged in social causes, he challenged students at KIPP to go through social media to raise money for a cause of their choosing. The students whittled their concerns down to four areas: women’s rights, gun violence, homelessness and immigration.
“Then,” Lauenstein said, “they had something like the TV show ‘Shark Tank.’ They went before the students and basically competed against each other.”
Virginia Leigh, who is the coordinator for the project as well as a director of social work and interning for the Lynn Community Health Center, said that “it got pretty intense. I was amazed.”
In the end, the KIPP students chose the immigration project, and the $300 was immediately matched by an anonymous couple.
“And that’s what happens sometimes with charitable donations,” said Leigh, 34, to the KIPP students who gathered at the LCHC for the check donation. “Three hundred can become $600.”
Leigh said she was blown away by the eagerness of the students to get involved.
“It makes me very optimistic,” she said. “I work a full-time job (at the LCHC) and then come home to emails and phone calls from people hoping that I can help them. But after seeing what you have done, I realize that it’s not work. It’s just doing my part trying to make the world a better and a safer place.”
The network, she said, is made necessary “to protect the health care needs because of the changes in our society that contribute to mental health issues of immigrants.”
Those issues, she said, are anxiety, and lack of access to resources “due to the current political climate” that has contributed to increased concerns among immigrants in Lynn.
The network is a conglomerate of many area social service agencies and, said Leigh, “whatever our missions are, and however various they are, we have this common mission to ensure the safety of all the people who come into our midst.
“Lynn is a smallish community, when you think about it,” she said. “And just look at how many people have stepped up to protect the safety of its people. That is beautiful.”