Beau Babst is one of the fortunate ones. In wake of Hurricane Katrina, the Calhoun sophomore said his home was minimally flooded with just a few inches of water in comparison to the damage experienced by others. But, he said, for him and other New Orleans natives, despite wanting to, “there is no going home.”
Babst served as emcee Friday night at the Hurricane Katrina Benefit Concert sponsored by the Yale Hurricane Emergency Relief Organization. The concert, which was preceded by a benefit dinner on Old Campus, was held in Battell Chapel and included performances from many of Yale’s a cappella and dance groups. Elis from all years and colleges came out to help in the relief efforts by donating $10 for the dinner.
The dinner, concert and week-long campaign in the dining halls have thus far raised approximately $12,000, said Stephanie Speirs ’07, who started the Yale Collective Relief Fund that has been collecting money for hurricane relief and whose members worked in conjunction with those directing Friday’s events. The Yale College Council, along with individual students, organized the evening.
Speirs is a staff reporter and staff photographer for the Yale Daily News.
The dinner was so popular, in fact, that plates ran out. But this did not deter more attendees from arriving and donating.
“One of my close friends lost her home,” said Stephen Silva ’09, who was at the dinner and donated to the American Red Cross the equivalent monetary amount of a dining hall meal. “There are many Americans in dire need and I feel as a college student I have to do my part, even in a small way.”
Yale College Dean Peter Salovey also attended the dinner.
“It’s as good a cause as I can imagine,” he said. “It’s good to see how Yale College students feel empathy.”
The night’s events moved indoors as the concert, largely composed of inspirational and spiritual numbers, began. As members of the Yale community continuously filed in and out of the pews of Battell Chapel, the voices of the various a cappella groups soared over the audience. The Whiffenpoofs brought some audience members to tears with their rendition of “I’ll Be Seeing You.”
Yale dancers from various groups, including Groove, Yaledancers, A Different Drum and Rhythmic Blue, also performed choreographed acts for the audience.
Jeffrey Brown ’09, who attended the concert, is from Jamaica, which earlier this summer suffered hurricanes of its own.
“I have a great sense of empathy towards [Babst] and his family, especially due to the fact that I’ve seen firsthand how hurricanes can displace families and completely shift the details of what priority really means,” Brown said.
Although many came and went, it was inspiring to see how many Yalies still found time to help out, Babst said.
“It’s wonderful to see how ready and willing to do the right thing the community is,” Babst said. “There are no words to express how thankful I am for all that you’ve done.”
With much work to be done on the Gulf Coast, Yale’s commitment to aiding in the relief work continues. Last night, the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, in conjunction with the Afro-American Cultural Center and the Chaplain’s Office, organized a candlelight vigil in support of the victims of the hurricane and in remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, asking students to contribute funds for candles to raise money for hurricane victims.
Along with the monetary contributions the University and its community members are giving, Yale is helping by taking in displaced Gulf Coast students, who are slated to arrive today, Salovey said.