Courtesy of YHHAP

On Sunday afternoon, Yale’s Hunger and Homelessness Action Project, or YHHAP, held its first-ever fall festival on Cross Campus.

Featuring several nonprofits from the New Haven community as well as YHHAP-specific projects, the event gave attending Yalies the opportunity to speak directly with organization leaders. Representatives from Elm City–based nonprofit organizations including Ronald McDonald House, a nonprofit that provides housing for families with a child undergoing medical treatment far from home, Restaurant Rescue Project, a YHHAP-led project aimed at reducing food waste at New Haven restaurants and more were in attendance. After the information booth fair, YHHAP welcomed an array of Yale performance groups at a benefit concert in Sudler Hall.

While he said there are many ways to get involved in service at Yale, co-director of YHHAP Dalton Boyt ’20 explained the importance of a festival like this in bringing people together.

“We don’t know as much about what’s going on in the New Haven community as these other groups do, so we wanted to aggregate information to that degree,” he said.

Boyt added that all proceeds from the festival are going to Martha’s Place, a New Haven women’s shelter.

Annie Cheng ’20, YHHAP’s co-director, said the festival has been in the works since June.

“Getting Cross Campus wasn’t easy, but everybody’s been working super hard to pull this together,” she said.

Asked why he attended the fall festival, Colin McCloskey ’20 said that he was motivated by the work of his friends in YHHAP, who always seem “really excited” about the work they do.

“It’s one of the clubs on campus that has a real impact in terms of helping people,” McCloskey added.

The second part of the event consisted of a benefit concert in Sudler Hall, with performances from the Whiffenpoofs, the Exit Player and Steppin’ Out, as well as standup routines and spoken word performances delivered by members of Yale’s Coven and Word, respectively.

Each of these groups performed pro bono, with the help of funding from University alumni.

The concept of helping others is at the heart of YHHAP and the other nonprofit organizations in attendance, according to New Haven resident Sue Ashman.

When her nephew got into an accident, Ashman and other relatives took turns visiting him in the hospital. If it weren’t for the low cost of living offered by Ronald McDonald House, she explained, this would not have been possible.

“It just takes over your heart,” she said, “and I think there are some things that are just necessary in this world. Nonprofits, with the ability to make a difference in people’s lives, are one of them.”

Now, she works for the Ronald McDonald House as a volunteer.

Jilan Crowley, who presented at the fair and leads local nonprofit Food In Service to the Homebound — an organization that provides food to the needs — said she was keen to see University members contribute their efforts to organizations like FISH even if they could not attend the fair.

While she said she is not sure the fall festival will become an annual event, Cheng noted that she is eager to continue spreading awareness about YHHAP and its many partner organizations.

“I love New Haven. I really have grown to think of New Haven as home — and it’s because of people like this,” Cheng said.

Established nearly 50 years ago, YHHAP is Yale’s largest service group, with about 250 active volunteers.

Maya Vaknin |

Jose Garcia |

Correction: A previous version of this article wrote that Jackie Speiller was the Food In Service to the Homebound representative quoted, when in fact it was Jilan Crowley.