PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Beaverton teen says help from the community allowed him to become the musician he is today. Now, he’s paying that kindness forward.

Accomplished violinist Timothy Lee is putting instruments into the hands of young people, saying anyone should be able to play if they want to, even if they don’t have the financial means to get started.

Someone did the same for Lee years ago, sparking his love for the violin.

“At the time, we weren’t in a financial position to afford a violin, but they gave us a generous financial aid scholarship for a violin and violin lessons for six months,” Lee stated.

The Aloha High School senior wanted to return the favor by founding Gratis Music. The word “gratis” is Latin for “free.”

Lee has used money he’s won from competitions and has started a GoFundMe to buy violins to give out to people who can’t afford them. Gratis Music offers free lessons as well.

Gratis Music’s GoFundMe page

“I knew giving violins to people would bring them joy, but I didn’t know much it would bring me joy as well to watch them,” he said.

Lee recently traveled to the Head Start school at the Spokane Indian reservation to deliver violins to students. He’s now working to raise funds for Ukrainian refugees at a local church to receive violins.

“It helps us express the inexpressible,” Lee stated. “So I want other kids to be able to experience what I have felt.”

Lee plans to pass the torch after he graduates, continuing to put smiles on the faces of kids and keeping the music alive.