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Students Organize Auction to Support Local Nonprofits Focused on Hunger & Homelessness

January 25, 2023
by Abigail Roth

“The man. The myth. The bowtie.”

When auctioneer Jaideep Talwalkar, MD, associate professor of internal medicine (general medicine) and assistant dean for education, called out these words at Yale School of Medicine’s (YSM) 29th Annual Hunger & Homelessness (H&H) Charity Auction on the evening of January 19, it led to a bidding frenzy from the crowd gathered in the school’s Café Med. One student even repeatedly outbid herself in an effort to come out on top for Professor Bill Stewart’s bowtie—a traditional, much-prized item at the H&H Auction. The final winning bid for what Stewart, associate professor of surgery (gross anatomy), described as “an elegant bowtie from my personal collection. Worn in the lab, but not too often,” was $1,202.

Helping community organizations

Through the live auction and a week-long silent auction, as well as donations and a small entry fee, the event raised more than $11,000. These funds will go to local organizations focused on alleviating hunger and homelessness, which the students selected, specifically:

The New Haven PAWS Project (Poverty Alleviation through Washing Soles) to provide footwear and podiatric care to those experiencing homelessness and extreme poverty in New Haven.

Youth Continuum to expand its Youth Action Board, which works to ensure that youth experiencing homelessness have an active voice in designing services meant to serve them.

Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers of Greater New Haven in collaboration with Winnett Food Forest to establish their "Groceries at the Garden" program.

The Storehouse Project to expand the infrastructure and capacity of its outdoor and indoor food pantries.

In their final reminder to the YSM community prior to the auction, the organizers—Victoria Kong, Tyger Lin, Christina Waldron, from the MD class of 2026, and Liz Encarnacion, from the PA class of 2024—had declared, “Your participation, enthusiasm, and generosity all go a long way toward helping us fund” these organizations’ “tireless work for the community.” Representatives from the nonprofits joined the festivities, which for the first time since 2019 could take place in person.

After attendees settled into their seats with dinner and drinks, the student organizers made introductory remarks and then turned the microphone over to the three auctioneers: Talwalkar; David Rosenthal, MD, assistant professor of medicine (general medicine) and health care partner with the venture firm AlleyCorp; and Mark Mercurio, MD, professor of pediatrics (neonatology) and director, Program for Biomedical Ethics. Throughout the evening, each auctioneer drew laughs and successfully encouraged audience members to increase bids to assist the local organizations.

Creative auction items

The tempting auction items, which faculty, students, and staff had donated, made the auctioneers’ jobs fairly easy. A sampling of the many offerings includes:

  • A homemade dinner for six with (and prepared by!) Nancy J. Brown, MD, Jean and David W. Wallace Dean of the Yale School of Medicine and C.N.H. Long Professor of Internal Medicine.
  • Three days and two nights in a condo that sleeps eight, just 100 yards from a chairlift at Okemo in Vermont, that is equipped with a hot tub, telescope, and snowshoes.
  • 18 holes of golf for three at Lyman Orchards, and lunch, with Rosenthal.
  • A four-hour cruise and a meal for six with Mercurio on his boat in the Branford Harbor, including a chance to drive the boat!
  • Two tickets in the Dell/EMC Box at Fenway Park for a Red Sox game.

Rosenthal was able to paint a descriptive picture of the Fenway Park tickets because he had successfully bid on this item—which Patrick O'Connor, MD, MPH, Dan Adams and Amanda Adams Professor of General Medicine and chief, Section of General Internal Medicine, donated—at a prior auction. Rosenthal described the VIPs in the box with him and his son, the spectacular views of the field (the seats are behind home plate) and of Boston, and how one can arrange to go to the Red Sox-Yankees game. His enthusiasm was reflected in his bidding for the item—twice!—while serving as its auctioneer.

In addition to the live auction, there were dozens of silent auction items people could bid on from January 11 through the evening of January 19, ranging from ice-cream gift certificates, to a cardboard cutout of Handsome Dan, to a swimming lesson with a student who was a Division I swimmer. Bidding wars in the silent auction added excitement and raised funds for the non-profits.

Submitted by Abigail Roth on January 23, 2023