By Tyler Kwon
Seniors Shirley Lew, Sayeh Mir, and Betty Thai organized a benefit concert to support Syrian refugees as part of their Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) project for the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.
The benefit took place at Valley United Methodist Church and included nine acts ranging from singing to board breaking. The event was a success, raising a grand total of $410.
Seventy percent of this money will be donated to the White Helmets, an organization dedicated to supporting and rescuing Syrian refugees, while the other 30 percent will be used to fund the girls’ Power Punch Girls community service project.
The trio was first inspired to organize a benefit during an IB workshop on CAS, which all IB students are expected to complete during their two years in the program. While Power Punch Girls is dedicated to combating sexism through the empowerment of adolescent girls and boys, they felt that the Syrian refugee crisis was an important and often forgotten issue in need of support.
“[Mr. Adair] asked if anyone has a CAS project dedicated to this social issue. We shook our heads. Therefore, we were inspired to dedicate 70 percent of the fundraising money to the White Helmets,” Thai said.
Lew added, “We really wanted to empower them and recognize the good work that they are doing.”
The benefit required months of extensive planning on the group’s part, including locating
a venue, finding acts to perform throughout the night, and maintaining clear communication
between all of the involved parties. According to the group members, despite some difficulties, the night was a success thanks to the support of community members and classmates.
“I was really happy to see everyone being so supportive of each other and seeing the final product of our planning come together. It really felt like family when everyone was cheering and laughing together,” Lew said.
Lew said that while Power Punch Girls has not yet made any plans regarding another event, other community service groups from the community will organize and host benefits to support other important causes.
“My church will be hosting another benefit night next semester planned by another volunteer project called ARTemis from Van Nuys and Cleveland High Schools; they will use visual and performing arts to spread awareness about human trafficking. I will be helping them with that and everyone is invited to come and enjoy the night, but it will not be a Power Punch Girls benefit night,” Lew said.