Students at the Yale School of Medicine are working together with undergraduates to alleviate hunger and homelessness in New Haven through this week’s 13th Annual Hunger and Homelessness Auction.
A series of events planned around the auction kicked off last Thursday with a party at the medical school. The events will run until the live auction on Thursday, Nov. 17th, and include a candlelight vigil on Monday, a dinner panel targeting Yale’s medical community on Tuesday and a silent auction from Monday through Thursday, featuring over 400 items and services donated by New Haven stores and businesses.
Carolyn Avery MED ’08, a member of the organization board and the grants committee, said that seeing how urgently the homeless need help has motivated several students to become involved with the project.
“[The project] is a great awareness technique because so many students want to work in heath care,” she said, “For me, being on the grants committee has been a great insider’s look.”
The auction is organized by students from the Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Epidemiology and Public Health as well as by students from the Physician Associate Program and is co-sponsored by the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project, an undergraduate group. Its principal aim is to raise funds for seven charity organizations and educate the Yale community about the problems faced by New Haven’s homeless residents, Avery said. While in past years the auction has primarily funded homeless residents’ basic needs, this year the organizers are trying to fight the deeper causes of poverty by focusing on education, she said.
YHHAP Co-Coordinator David Tian ’07 said education is the key component to making real changes. He said this week’s events are valuable because they provide perspective on the issue of homelessness in the community.
“Talking to people is vital because everyone is homeless for a different reason,” he said. “It’s not just those who ask for money on Broadway. Many are homeless because of hard times, and most are people that students will never see because they are able to get back on their feet after some time.
Justin Chen MED ’08 said that the auction’s organization board has received support from the American Medical Students’ Association in planning the week long events. He said all the events leading up to the auction on Thursday aim to show that change comes from community action in addition to fundraising.
Tuesday’s Hunger and Homelessness Dinner Panel will feature two health care professionals from Fairhaven Free Medical Clinic, which is slated to open soon and will be primarily staffed by Yale School of Medicine students, Chen said. Patty Benedict, coordinator of the Columbus Leadership Project, which seeks to teach leadership and public speaking skills to homeless individuals, will also speak at the dinner, along with two homeless individuals who are part of the Project.
Throughout the week, the students will also publicize “The Bringing America Home Act,” a bipartisan piece of legislation in the U.S. Congress supporting housing as a basic human right, Chen said.
This year’s proceeds will be divided among seven charities that were selected from a total of twenty two applicants. The beneficiaries include the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen, Community Health Care Vans, Fairhaven Student Free Clinic, Leadership Development Project, Liberty Community Services, Youth Continuum and the Christian Community Action.