Skip to Main Content

A Night of Fun Raises Money to Help Fight Hunger and Homelessness

December 19, 2023
by Barbara Steinberger

Members of the YSM community opened their hearts and their wallets at the 30th Annual Hunger & Homelessness Charity Auction on Dec. 6, bidding generously on everything from VIP baseball tickets to a very in-demand bowtie.

The event, organized by students, drew a capacity crowd to a festively decorated Café Med in E.S. Harkness Hall, where attendees enjoyed dinner and drinks and bid on live and silent auction items. Once all bids have been received, organizers expect to have raised more than $17,000 for four nonprofit organizations that work to alleviate poverty in greater New Haven:

  • Bradley Street Bicycle Co-op, which works to provide bikes for transportation at low or no cost.
  • Beth-El Center, Inc, a support services and advocacy center for those experiencing homelessness and hunger within the greater Milford community.
  • United Way of Greater New Haven, an organization creating solutions to greater New Haven’s most pressing challenges in the areas of education, health, and financial stability.
  • New Haven Pride Center: A community-focused organization working to empower greater New Haven LGBTQIA+ individuals to not just survive, but thrive and uplift each other.

Student organizers

The annual event is organized by students, and most of the auction items are donated by faculty, staff, and students. This year’s student organizers were Carla Godoy, MD ’27; Rachel Levinson, MD ’25; Kiara Marmolejos, PA ’23; and Ryan Sutherland, MD ’26.

In brief remarks before the live auction, Godoy noted the stark difference between the glamorous event and the reality of life on the edge of poverty. “The heat and the food and the fancy clothes (at the auction) are so far from the lives of many in the community,” she said.

Sutherland, another student organizer, described the event as “our opportunity to give back just a little bit to the community that has given us so much.”

Live auction

Three faculty members served as auctioneers at this year’s live auction: David Rosenthal, MD, assistant professor of medicine (general medicine); John (“Jack”) Hughes, MD, professor emeritus of medicine (general medicine); and William B. Stewart, PhD, associate professor of surgery (gross anatomy).

Every year, Professor Stewart donates a bowtie from his sizable collection to be auctioned off at the event, and it is traditionally the most sought-after auction item. This year’s bowtie, decorated with images of small trout, once again sparked a furious bidding war, with the winning bid coming in at a whopping $3,590.

Other exciting items offered at the live auction included:

  • A bottle of Belle Meade Bourbon Reserve from YSM Dean Nancy Brown’s hometown of Nashville, Tenn., donated by Dean Brown
  • An afternoon cruise for six to the Thimble Islands in Branford, on a boat belonging to Mark Mercurio, MD, MA, professor of pediatrics (neonatology) and director of the Program for Biomedical Ethics
  • Two tickets in the Dell/EMC Box at Fenway Park for a Red Sox game
  • A tour of Harkness Tower for up to eight people, with an opportunity to choose a song to be played on the tower’s Yale Memorial Carillon.
  • A variety of one-of-a-kind experiences with faculty members, such as a star-gazing dinner, a guided nature hike, and a dumpling-making lesson

Silent auction

In addition to the live auction, there were dozens of silent auction items people could bid on from Nov. 29 through the evening of Dec. 6. Silent auction items included artwork; a “meet & greet” with Handsome Dan; theater tickets; sports tickets; gift cards for local restaurants and shops; and lessons for a wide range of activities, including breakdancing, kickboxing, ice skating, cocktail making, vocal coaching, rock climbing, tennis, and squash.

Submitted by Abigail Roth on December 19, 2023