Courtesy of Haven Free Clinic

On Sunday, HAVEN Free Clinic hosted its 9th annual 5K fundraiser virtually, with all proceeds going towards patient care. Though participants could not gather in Edgewood Park like usual, they had the option to run a physical course.

Since 2005, the student-run clinic has provided uninsured New Haven residents access to free medical care — complete with resources in primary care, reproductive healthcare, social service and health education. Donations from the event supported funds for medications, laboratory tests and equipment necessary for the clinic’s operations. 

Mariana Budge MED ’23, co-director of HAVEN, noted that as a student-run clinic, HAVEN relies on these fundraisers to keep its doors open and provide a healthcare resource for those with the least access to affordable healthcare within the New Haven community.

“Without these funds, it really wouldn’t be possible to keep our clinic running, and we have been a source for free primary care for 15 years in New Haven,” Budge said. “We are really the only freestanding free clinic that offers services with completely no charge.”

Of the clinic’s $100,000 annual operating budget, the 5K usually contributes anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000. 

Finance director Alex Sasse MED ‘23 noted that ever since the pandemic began, the fundraiser has become pivotal in keeping the clinic afloat.

“A year-and-a-half ago or so, we lost one of the grants that brought us a significant amount of funding, so the HAVEN 5K has become the main source of income that we have for the clinic,” Sasse said. 

Sasse also stressed that in the past year and a half, the clinic had lost many of its revenue sources due to a lack of in-person fundraising events during the pandemic. He further explained that especially during the pandemic, helping patients obtain medications and providing patient transportation have resulted in a significant increase in expenses for the clinic. 

He said that the 5K was how the clinic funds itself “for the vast majority of the year.”

Participants donated a base fee of $25, but increased donations were rewarded with event merchandise, such as masks and t-shirts. New Haven businesses also partnered with the clinic to develop local sponsorships.

When the race went virtual in 2020, donations reached a record $50,000. This year, the clinic raised the second-highest amount ever in the fundraiser’s history. 

“With sponsorship and registration fees, we’ve raised $49,000, so we are $1000 away from our original goal of $50,000,” said Budge. “It was really cool to see people from all across campus come together for this shared mission of providing free and accessible primary care services.”

Teams from the School of Medicine, the Physician Assistant Program, the School of Nursing, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, as well as some of the undergraduate residential colleges participated in the 5K.

While contributions have increased in recent years, the virtual format also drew its own set of challenges. Sasse said that in previous years, the race took place in person at Edgewood Park, complete with an impressive number of racers and refreshments. 

“It was a large coming together for everyone involved with the clinic,” Sasse said. “With the virtual 5K, it’s a lot more difficult to get the essence of community.”

Though the event was run virtually, the clinic offered sample maps and guides for anyone interested in taking part in the 5K.             

According to IT director and co-chair of the Sustainability and Development Committee Edel Aron GRD ‘24, despite the longing for a return to in-person fundraising, a non-virtual 5K might not be practical among rising clinic expenses.

“When you organize something in person, you have to put in several thousand dollars in cost,” Aron noted. “We want to save as much money as possible to go back into the clinic.”

Sasse added that the HAVEN Free Clinic is always looking for new volunteers and accepts year-round donations on its website. The website for the 5K will also remain open to donations through the rest of the week.

To be eligible for HAVEN Free Clinic’s services, patients must live in the city of New Haven, be between 18-65 years of age and have no health insurance.

WILLIAM PORAYOUW
KAYLA YUP