Recipients grateful for Gaming Commission funds

August 04, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

Gaming Commission distributes $2.24 million

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- When Doug Wright Jr. learned Tuesday morning that Holly Place received $20,000 in the fiscal 2009 Washington County Gaming Commission distribution, he was elated.

"We asked for $100,000 -- we always ask for $100,000 -- but we are pleased with what we got," said Wright, the chairman of the board of the senior assisted-living home in the 200 block of South Potomac Street.

Last year, the beleaguered facility got nothing from gaming revenues, Wright said. That, coupled with federal and state funding cuts, nearly resulted in the closure of the home.


"Sixty percent of our expense is payroll," Wright said. "It takes a lot of money to care for our residents."

There are 14 residents living in the one Holly Place home remaining. Holly Place II was closed.

"We raised $160,000 last year outside of our government aid," Wright said Tuesday. "And we'll probably need to raise $200,000 this year -- the $20,000 we got today is 10 percent of that already."

The previous year's funds came from numerous fundraisers, including two barbecues held by the North Hagerstown Lions Club, anonymous matching donors, radio program drives, contributions from individuals and church offerings.

Holly Place also got $55,000 from the City of Hagerstown and $26,000 from the Washington County Commissioners.

REACH Caregivers received $100,000 from the gaming commission, which is exactly what the agency requested.

"We are very pleased and so grateful," said Jodie Stock, executive director of the agency at 140 W. Franklin St. "This year we are seeing a 194 percent increase in the number of people we serve."

That translates to 5,300 people this year who are expected to need shelter, Faith in Action services and possibly crisis intervention, Stock said.

The award of $20,488 to the Alzheimer's Association Inc. at 5 Public Square in Hagerstown was particularly appreciated this year, according to Cathy Hanson, program coordinator.

"How much did we get?" she asked when contacted by phone Tuesday. "Great! We're thrilled."

The agency requested $35,000 that was earmarked for the family care coordination program designed to work with the families of Alzheimer's clients. The sum received will help fund that program, Hanson said.

She said her agency got $17,500 last year from gaming, but this year, the need was heightened because 2009-10 will be the first year the Alzheimer's Association will no longer receive funds as a United Way agency.

"We're part of the Greater Maryland Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association and we needed to do more fundraising in a larger arena," Hanson said.

Such fundraising is limited under United Way guidelines.

Jeanne Singer, board chairwoman of the Friends of Safe Place Child Advocacy Center, said the $63,115.08 award from the gaming commission will be used for rent for the 24 N. Walnut St. offices.

"Our request was fully funded," Singer said. "And we are ecstatic."

Singer explained that the "Friends of" in the title of Safe Place Child Advocacy Center is the fundraising arm established six years ago to support the center's work with at-risk children.

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