On Sunday night, more than 100 Yale students braved the torrential rain and flooded the Silliman Common Room for food, music, art and a cause.
The benefit dinner, sponsored by Reach Out: The Yale College Partnership for International Service, cost $5. Reach Out leaders hoped to raise enough funds to sponsor an operation for Gustavo Almaraz to restore his sight. Almaraz, a Bolivian who lost his sight because of a brain tumor a year and a half ago, would have a 50 to 70 percent chance of regaining his sight, Reach Out board member Jocelyn Lippert ’04 said.
Lippert is a staff reporter for the Yale Daily News.
Almaraz needs $4,000 to have the operation, Lippert said.
Many students came straight from dinner in the Silliman dining hall, donating their money to the cause and sampling some of the food. Others came from their own dining halls, soaking wet from the rain, hoping to share the atmosphere of the event.
After nearly 70 students made five-dollar reservations for the dinner, and many more showed up willing to buy a six-dollar ticket at the door, Lippert deemed the night a success for both the organization and Almaraz.
“Always when you organize things like this, there’s this sinking feeling nobody will show up. It just makes me realize how many people were interested,” Lippert said. “Tonight makes me really love Yale.”
Lippert met Almaraz while working at the Aprecia School for blind children and adults in Bolivia this summer. Last spring, she went on an Alternative Spring Break trip to El Salvador where she met several of Reach Out’s other Board Members.
Lippert, and the rest of the Reach Out board — Erin McCreless ’04, Natalie Spicyn ’05, Lauren Gold ’03, and Marina Spitkovskaya ’04 — convinced over 40 New Haven restaurants ranging from Subway to Libby’s to donate the evening’s food.
“We just called and explained what the dinner was for,” Spicyn said. “A lot of places were just happy to help.”
The abundance of food served as a draw for several people in attendance.
“I wish they had fundraisers like this every day,” Iris Ma ’06 said. “It’s an incredible cause.”
While students ate and gathered information on future Reach Out events, a band led by Silas Meredith ’04 played light background music. Photographs by Erin Lewis ’03 adorned the walls. Lewis’ photos portrayed Mexican families and the Mexican countryside. Lewis’ artist statement underscored Reach Out’s goal of motivating students towards international service. In the statement, Lewis wrote that she wished to depict a people who “have so little” but are “appreciative of so much.”
Lippert also noted the need to ignite a passion for social action in the Yale community.
“What we want to do is get students involved in the international community,” Lippert said. “There’s a sense of idealism that exists at Yale and in Yale students. We want to provide a channel for that idealism.”
Other students said the cause made the cost worthwhile.
“I don’t usually go out to eat,” Elana Rosenthal ’06 said. “However, this was such a good cause that it was definitely worth the $6.”