If the tent city on the New Haven Green seemed more vacant than usual Tuesday night, it could have been because its residents were performing.
Harmony Place, an undergraduate organization run jointly by Yale students and New Haven’s homeless, sponsored a talent show Tuesday night at Trinity Lutheran Church on Orange Street. For three years, the church has let Harmony Place use its facilities to provide refuge, socialization and a kitchen for the homeless.
The center is open daily from 4 to 10 p.m. when Harmony Place clients return to local shelters for the night.
Amanda Seaton ’04, a co-coordinator of Harmony Place; Jessica Price ’04, the group’s event coordinator; and other group members provided transportation to the center from three New Haven homeless shelters. Seaton said they brought about 25 of the 50 total people in attendance to the event.
The night’s entertainment ran from 7:30 to 10 p.m. and included a motley crew of Harmony Place clients, Yale students, and DJ 4Play Alim Wilson of Superior Performance Productions.
Six of the 20 members of the Yale dance group Steppin’ Out re-enacted their reggae-themed Parents’ Weekend performance.
In addition to volunteering for Harmony Place, Price also dances with Steppin’ Out. She said she viewed the event not only as entertainment for the homeless but also as a chance for Yale students to become interested in Harmony Place.
“I enjoy being able to talk about real issues, stuff that affects [the homeless] on a daily basis,” she said. “Among each other they don’t get to talk that much.”
Konjo!, the Yale African dance troupe, performed “Majani,” a West African dance of celebration. Patrice Jackson MUS ’03 has been with the group for only several weeks and said she finds homelessness to be a pressing issue in society.
“Everybody should have more opportunities in life.”
Catherine James ’04 opened the talent show by singing “Killing Me Softly” by the Fugees. She later performed a song of her own titled “Rock My Soul.” James said she holds community service in high regard.
“[The talent show] sounded like a good opportunity to do what you like to do for a good reason,” she said.
Rick Best, who frequents the Harmony Place center, recited from memory several of his own poems, one of which is titled “In the News.”
A self-described “draft-dodger from Hungary,” Gabor Kovacs has frequented the center for the past two years. He stated that on a daily basis there are usually about 20 people at the center, where he watches television and socializes.
He said he believes medical problems to be a key issue for the homeless.
“[Politicians] must consult the medical problems to solve the homeless problem,” he said. “You must think of all edges including lead poisoning, environmental problems, and too much violence on TV.”
Roy Swamy has been coming to the center fairly regularly for the past two years, he said.
“I like talking to people who go to the only Ivy League School that is a four-letter word,” he said.