Silent auction raises $11,000 to help the homeless

SANTA FE, NM – More than 200 people came out this past Sunday on a storybook afternoon treasure-hunting for the perfect birdhouse. The birdhouse would be handmade by a noteworthy artist, and therefore one of a kind and a great delight to the eye of the purchaser, while simultaneously, and certainly the priority for the bird, being of architectural and practical merit. The 116 pieces sold at silent auction for $11,000, with the proceeds benefiting The New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness.

Homelessness. It’s a terrible looming fear, that some catastrophic event could befall any one of us, like the Crash of 1929; one’s circumstances would change in an instant! Comfortable to bereft in the snap of your fingers, in one bad choice, in one unlucky accident – one could lose everything! Visualize wandering the streets with a bulging grocery cart, ungrounded, without a nest … . A person could lose all hope. Hopelessness and homelessness must go hand in hand.

There are so many groups trying to help the homeless that someone needed to join them together from time to time, for efforts in lobbying, grant-writing and fundraising, for example … . Hence the necessity for and birth of the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness. Coalition. They coordinate and work on behalf of 70 organizations throughout the state of New Mexico that work with the homeless.

The basic thesis of the coalition is “housing first,” the presumption being that most of life’s other problems can fall into place, or at least be handled more rationally, when a person has a home. Drug or alcohol problems? Get away from your trigger environments and go home. Need a job? Live someplace first. Hanging out with the wrong crowd? Read a good book, work on an art project, watch TV, or have some nice people over – at your home! Few worthwhile solutions work well under a proverbial bridge … .

So the coalition coordinates ways to help get homeless folks into homes. They write the grants. They go to the Legislature and lobby for the bills, and the funding. They hold events like the Birdhouse Auction to raise cash for the nuts and bolts of the groups’ daily operations. Of the afternoon’s net, 25 percent was allocated for the coalition’s government advocacy and the other 75 percent will be distributed among the agencies to use for their own needs.

When I had to leave the party before the auction had ended, the caboose birdhouse that Rick Martinez had meticulously crafted, insulated (to keep the birds warm!) and painted just like the real one was already at $170. Nice digs for a purple martin. Elizabeth Hahn’s donut-decorated house had very practical operable double doors for easy twig clean-out. Page Allen’s was an ethereal blue dream house. There was a swirly painted pot Ramona Sakiestewa birdhouse. (If you collect her work, here was a unique addition!) There were political satire houses, antique license plate houses, excellently carved rare wood houses, student houses, serious and silly houses.

Everybody needs a house. That was actually the point.

Ashley Margetson has a BA in English from UCLA, is a senior real estate broker with Sotheby’s International Realty and has a finger on the pulse of philanthropic activities in Santa Fe. To tell us about an upcoming event, email


Artist Elizabeth Hahn shows off a birdhouse decorated as a church.


Rick Martinez holds a miniature version of a Santa Fe caboose.


Karen Beall directs visitors to a fundraiser for programs to help the homeless.
Hank Hughes is executive director of the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness.
Former City Councilor Chris Calvert checks out the silent auction.
Peter Glankoff handles the mic.
Peter Chapin at the birdhouse auction.

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