We described it as “a labor of love for Aaron Mitchell Finegold”,
He quotes Nathaniel Hawthorne: “generosity is the flower of justice”.
Jordan Rothman memorably referred to it as “the fifteen dollar booze event”
Whatever it was, the HopeFound fundraiser was a financial success. We raised $4000 for a homeless shelter, and looked mighty fine doing it.
Aaron had this to say:
On the turnout. I was amazed, astonished and greatly honored by the turnout. Brandeis’ mission was present on everyone’s radar and the $15 price point for tickets was, although higher than most events on campus, not enough to turn off the general public. Although I’m sure that the open bar had a hand in attracting many of the upperclassmen, I am nonetheless very grateful to see so many of my fellow students agree with me that homelessness is a cause—and that hopeFound is a non-profit—worth supporting.
On the details. It was a painstaking joy (or as Adam called it, my labor of love) to organize all the details, coordinate between various on-campus offices and departments and plan the entire thing. I think that in the end, the event did not connote or imply extravagance as much as simple, elegant beauty. The event was, in Prof. David Cunningham (SOC)’s words, “uniquely classy by Brandeis standards.” Let’s assume for a second that social justice at Brandeis takes two major forms: community service and activism. My foremost goal in planning this event was the open social justice up to a group of the population that doesn’t already involve itself with those two paths to justice…and let them get involved in a third way: philanthropy.
On the money raised. Adam Hughes quote, “it’s nice that student activism is impacting the greater Boston community” hit the nail on the head in describing what I was trying to do. Although Brandeis is in Waltham and very few of us call that home, it’s still nice to recognize our responsibility to the community we enjoy whenever we take the Bran Van into Waltham or the weekend shuttle into Boston and Cambridge. Community building should not be limited, but rather extended to any community students feel a part of. In this case, the number of people who came out to support the event on Saturday speaks to the number of students who feel some commitment to the Boston community at large.
On awareness. The joy of this event was not only in the quantifiable—that is, the number of dollars raised—but also in the number of people who are now interested in hopeFound as a place to get their feet wet in terms of volunteering or learning about homelessness as a community-wide issue. As Barbara Shenker said in the Justice article, [homelessness] is not going to be solved by just one person or one organization, it takes a whole community, and hopefully we’ve brought this problem to the forefront of 200 community members’ attention,
On the future. For my personal future, I look forward to staying in touch with hopeFound by being their running volunteer this semester, and by coming back to Boston to support their development efforts in my capacity as a donor ($150 tickets are probably the max I’ll be able to afford for the next few years, and that’s only once a year at that!) I’m interested in seeing where hopeFound goes and how it develops, as it is still a relatively young organization, and interested in being involved any way I can. I am also helping several other people with their fundraisers now that I had a tiny bit of experience (some call it expertise I think I was just lucky), and am interested in homelessness activism as a life-long project.
On the future of Brandeis social justice pursuits, I hope that this event has inspired some underclassmen to take initiative in the future and put together something that can do as much good for the community as this has. I encourage people to get involved in non-profits outside of the existing Brandeis structure (although that is also great) and give back in any way they can. In my speech, I said that Saturday’s event should neither be a capstone nor conclusion, but a beginning for me and everyone present to do their part to make the communities in which we reside a better place.
My impressions are more mixed.
Aaron should be commended for all the planning he put into the event. Personally, I was disgusted by the behavior of Brandeis students. People were loud and obnoxious, talking over featured speakers and showing no respect for the occasion. I mean, come on. How can you claim to care about helping the homeless when you’re too busy talking about how fancy you look with your dolled-up friends to actually listen attentively to the Director of the organization you’re trying to save.
No matter what money we raised, Brandeis did not distinguish itself that night.