Last night, about 200 medical, nursing, and epidemiology and public health students came to Harkness Auditorium and heard School of Medicine Dean David Kessler offer a “strip juggling show.”
Kessler auctioned off the juggling show — provided by Joey Cousin MED ’06 — and several other services as part of the tenth Annual Hunger and Homelessness Auction, held at the Medical School Thursday evening.
The auction was started 10 years ago and has since grown into a week-long campaign to raise awareness for the problems facing needy New Haven residents, organizers said. The auction raises about $30,000 annually for local non profit organizations, event organizers said. Students, faculty and local businesses donated goods and services ranging from a weekend in Las Vegas to a one-hour break dancing lesson.
In addition to raising funds, the auction provides one of the biggest social events of the year for health professional students, said Brenda Ritson MED ’05, one of the event’s chairwomen.
“It’s pretty amazing to see the entire community pour out for these events,” Ritson said.
The week’s events included a football game between first and second year medical students and Club Med, a Thursday night event at the Medical School where proceeds from drink sales went toward grants for New Haven organizations.
This year, committee members added an educational portion to the week. Organizers worked with an outside group to sponsor a hunger banquet Nov. 13, Maak said. At the banquet, participants get assigned numbers corresponding social classes, and eat food according to what people in that class could afford to eat.
Travis Maak MED ’05, another event organizer, said the hard work was worth it.
“We’re med students sitting in class all day and reading books all night,” he said. “We all came to be health professionals to help people and this is a tangible way to do that.”
Kessler, who served as an auctioneer for part of the evening, said the auction was a good opportunity to extend the mission of the Medical School outside the classroom.
“We focus a lot on what happens in the classroom and lab,” Kessler said. “Events like this are also very much a part of the values of Yale.”
Faculty members donated big ticket items that drew crowds and raised the most money, Maak said. A Beef and Beer Dinner for eight at the home of surgery professor William Stewart went for $400.
Representatives from organizations receiving the event’s proceeds said they appreciated the auction.
Wesley Thorpe, executive director of the Community Soup Kitchen, said the funding the kitchen receives will go towards increasing hours for a staff member.
“They want to do something to help the community,” Thorpe said, “and I feel it is important because a lot of agencies need funding, they need help.”
Though many students came for the social aspect, many said they also realized the benefits the auction will have for New Haven.
“It is important that med students do this, because it reminds us of our obligation to those who need care more than others,” James Park MED ’07 said.