Dinner, art auction raises money and awareness for HIV/AIDS

On March 31, student groups Face AIDS and Men of Action and Change (MAC) put together an art gala in the InterFaith Center to raise money for HIV/AIDS awareness and research. The Gala for Change consisted of a silent art auction, a traditional Kenyan meal and biologist Dr. Michael Keefer as guest speaker.

A committee between the two organizations, made up of freshmen Kendall Shutles and Sarah Bain-Lucey, juniors Joe Kotsis, Tarrence Bellamy and Jose Rios and sophomore Dan Skahen spent the better part of five months planning, organizing and preparing for the gala. The event was a huge success, raising approximately $1,300.

The night started off with thesilent art auction. The art included photographs, paintings and hand-made jewelry. It was all donated by local artists, including a few Geneseo students. After the first part of the auction, everyone was ushered into the dinning room, where Keefer gave a brief lecture about the advancing treatments in helping to fight HIV/AIDS. Later in the evening, Keefer donated two gift certificates and two shirts from Africa for a free raffle among the audience.

After Keefer's lecture, dinner was served. It consisted of tradition Kenyan food: flatbread, ugali, chicken tika and roasted sweet potatoes with chick peas. The dinner was cooked by Geneseo students under the direction of MAC alumnus Aaron Wilson. After dinner, the final bids were put in for the auction and those who won were announced.

Planning for the gala started in November, and after much planning, organizing and a couple of bumps in the road the committee was glad to see the final result. "I think that the gala went phenomenally," said Bellamy. "The turn-out was amazing, we got all of the art sold, and we spread a lot of knowledge to a lot of different people."

"This was a labor of love," Kotsis stated. "A lot of hard work went into this from a lot of different people over the past five months. A lot of the MAC brothers volunteered, we had a lot of donations and help from the community. We started at eight in the morning getting ready for the gala and didn't finish everything until one the next morning."

The cause clearly meant a lot to everyone involved. "This was something I really wanted to be a part of," said Bellamy. "I wanted to make a difference, I wanted to be a part of a good cause that prompted change."

While the committee originally intended to sell 160 tickets, they brought in around 60. Even without selling all of the seats they still managed to make a pretty good profit. "We spent about $300 on the event. It helped that a lot of things were donated to us by the Geneseo community," said Kotsis. "For example the artwork, or even just the flowers that were on the tables were donated by the local flower shop."

"I felt that the event was overall a great success," said junior John Butler. "It raised awareness towards an issue that doesn't appear in the news every day. It's not something that's brought to light all the time, but it's definitely a very prominent issue in our lives."

"I think that for doing this for the first time the outcome was incredible," Bellamy stated. "I believe once this becomes annual it will be more known and we can make it bigger and sell more seats. I'm hoping to see this be an annual event, at least until we can find a cure."