The evening, put together by first year students, raises funds for Saskatoon-based health clinic, SWITCH, and it’s Regina-based counterpart, SEARCH, managed to raise $7,080!
“Both SWITCH and SEARCH are non-profit student-run clinics that provide accessible healthcare services to marginalized communities in both Saskatoon and Regina, respectively,” explained Balsam Arwini, the SMSS year one class representative. “Many students from the College of Medicine, as well as other schools, volunteer on a weekly basis to work together and provide equitable care for families in our local communities.”
And initiatives, like the Charity Auction Night, play an important role in helping to provide some of the funds that keeps the clinic running.
The evening pulls together auction items donated by local businesses in both Regina and Saskatoon, as well as a number of items and ‘events’ donated by members of the first-year class – which represented a broad spectrum of the skills, hobbies, and interests demonstrated by the students.
“Our class did a great job of coming up with some fantastic "date" ideas this year! We have a lot of talented bakers and cooks who offered up their services for the cause, and we even have a Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra player who contributed one-on-one music lessons and SSO tickets,” said Sam Molot-Toker, another year 1 class representative. “One of the most exciting ‘dates,’ however, and one that is certainly unique to our year, is the Big Gay/Lesbian Night In/Out date.
“This was put together by some of the LGBTQ-identifying members of our class, and involves them planning a viewing party for the popular TV show RuPaul's Drag Race, and then accompanying the auction winners to a live drag show in the city - it is a great way for members of our class to highlight an extremely important and relevant sociopolitical issue that we get too little exposure to in the current medical school curriculum.”
And it was by far the most popular ‘date’ up for auction, raising $900 alone.
“As future physicians, we will be working every day to support our local communities through advocacy and delivery of patient-centered care,” continued Arwini. “For me, the opportunity of organizing and holding this fundraiser has been a major first step in giving back to my community.”
It’s a sentiment shared by Molot-Toker, who stressed that part of giving back is using the fact that as medical students, they’re in a position of privilege, and this is an opportunity to use that privilege to benefit the community.
“It's sometimes easy to forget that even as debt-ridden medical students, we are still in very privileged positions,” Molot-Toker explained. “Medically speaking, we have very little to offer to our communities at this stage, and yet we are constantly taking from them in the form of intimate and unique learning experiences. As such, we need to do everything in our power to give back to our communities in other ways; holding events like the Charity Auction Night is just one of those ways.
“These two organizations (SWITCH and SEARCH) strive to achieve health equity in a province that faces a lot of obstacles in that respect.
Some other ‘dates’ auctioned by the students included a week of home-cooked dinners and baked goods, customized workout plans from a personal trainer, one-on-one skating and music lessons, and golf and snowboarding trips.