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Benefit for the hungry and homeless raises $25,000

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2001 - Spring


New Haven’s mayor, deans Merson and Chase take bids at eighth annual auction.

The eighth annual Hunger and Homelessness Auction achieved a number of firsts in November as it raised more than $25,000 for New Haven charities. For the first time, organizers recruited an auctioneer from outside the medical school—New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. The auction had its own Web site, and it expanded from a one-day to a four-day event, including two days of bidding.

“We wanted to create awareness,” Miriam Parsa, a public health student and one of five auction coordinators, said of the expanded schedule. Over the course of the four days activities included a canned-food drive sponsored by the Tercentennial committee at the School of Public Health, the screening of a movie on homelessness, a fast involving approximately 40 medical and public health students, and silent and live auctions offering 234 items and services. Bidding on the silent auction began the day before the live auction. On the block were “12 hours of babysitting,” “editing for two major papers by Yale English Lit. degree holder” and lessons in everything from piano to rock climbing to figure skating.

Coordinators also had practical reasons for spreading the bidding over two days. “We figured it would be a more efficient way of collecting the money,” said Parsa. As a result, said medical student Matt Kronman, the coordinators had $15,000 in hand the day of the live auction.

DeStefano solicited bids on the first item, a plane ride over New Haven piloted by Fred S. Kantor, M.D., HS ’60, the Paul B. Beeson Professor of Medicine. “You can go over the suburbs, too, if you really want to,” DeStefano said. The flight went for $200.

This year also marked the auctioneering debuts of public health Dean Michael H. Merson, M.D., and Herbert S. Chase Jr., M.D., deputy dean for education. “What could be more romantic than a July weekend on Martha’s Vineyard for two?” Merson asked, while soliciting bids on the getaway home of Frederick J. Sigworth, Ph.D., professor of cellular and molecular physiology. A question from the audience brought laughter: “Is this a romantic weekend with Dr. Sigworth?”

Proceeds went to the Cook and Care Walk-A-Thon, Community Soup Kitchen, New Haven Home Recovery, Loaves and Fishes, and Douglas House.