Lin Foundation Aims to Net Positive Change for Youths
By Mike Damante
Sitting on the bench as opportunities pass, being cut from the team or not even being considered to play in the first place are struggles impoverished children deal with in the game of life.
Rockets star point guard Jeremy Lin wants to give such children a fighting chance. So the Jeremy Lin Foundation has launched the Making a Difference program, its first philanthropic initiative.
Lin wants to reach local communities that need educational, financial and spiritual assistance, so Making a Difference will partner with three area nonprofits that are working with youths.
– PAIR (Partnership for Advancement and Immersion of Refugees), an after-school educational and mentoring program for young refugees;
– Workshop Houston, an after-school neighborhood center that teaches young people skills in metal working, music production, and fashion and design, and offers academic programs as well;
– Yellowstone Academy, a nonprofit private school for students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade who are from families of poverty or extreme poverty.
Each organization is receiving a grant from the Jeremy Lin Foundation, and one of them, which will be selected through a social media campaign, will receive additional assistance and personal appearances by Lin during the year.
Lin hopes his story helps inspire the charities as well as the children they benefit.
“Absolutely, I think (my story) is the whole purpose,” Lin said. ” We want to look for organizations that were in the same spot I was in. We feel like they just need a better opportunity or a push in this area or a push in that area to help them get over the hump. That is kind of the theme of what I experienced last year in my career.”
Lin, a graduate of Harvard University, where he played college basketball, went undrafted. He signed with the Golden State Warriors before being waived and then was cut during his first stint with the Rockets. He went on to become an overnight sensation with the New York Knicks in early 2012 before returning to Houston at the end of the season as a star.
Working with children was an obvious choice for the player who sparked “Linsanity.” As a child, he had teammates who grew up in rough neighborhoods, and he learned at an early age how influential those years could be.
“I love being around youths,” Lin said. “I think they have passionate minds, and they are the future.”
Years ago, Charles Barkley was famously quoted as saying, “I am not a role model.” But the reality is children often look up to athletes, whether they accept the distinction or not. Lin hopes to change the common perception of players as strictly celebrities and demonstrate that behind all the flash and bright lights, the players care.
“There are a lot of role models in the NBA, but I don’t think they all get credit for what they do,” Lin said. “Me being in the NBA, I see a big difference in what NBA players are (really) like, and they do have good hearts.”
Lin found his own inspiration at home: He credits his parents as the people who most helped him achieve what he has.
“(My parents) don’t care how well I play or how many points I scored, they are always going to treat me the same and hold me accountable,” Lin said. “They’re definitely a huge reason why I’m here today.”
How to help
Donations for the Jeremy Lin Foundation can be sent to 3790 El Camino Real, No. 194, Palo Alto, Calif., 94306, or made online at jeremylinfoundation.org.