Charities to share $2M in tip-jar proceeds

August 10, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS

Proceeds from tip-jar gaming distributed this year will pay for a year's medical care for more than 550 uninsured people at the Community Free Clinic of Washington County, help hold abusers accountable at CASA and help pay for nurses to visit homebound seniors with diabetes through the Commission on Aging, leaders of those organizations said Tuesday.

Those groups are among 86 local charitable organizations selected to share in the $2,010,106.75 in tip-jar revenue collected by the Washington County Gaming Fund in fiscal year 2009, gaming officials said.

By state law, half of that total goes to the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association to support fire and rescue companies. The other half is distributed to local charities selected through an application process.

The revenue comes from tip jars, a form of gambling in which players buy sealed tickets with numbers inside, at 118 clubs, restaurants, bars, liquor stores and other businesses throughout the county.


The fiscal year 2009 gaming fund total was down about 10 percent from the previous year, continuing a downward trend in gaming revenue, Washington County Gaming Commission chair Michael Hansen said.

"As in previous years, the funds available for distribution by the Gaming Commission were significantly less than the amount requested," Hansen said.

The commission received applications from 93 charitable organizations requesting a total of about $2.5 million, but had only about $1 million to distribute, he said.

The commission agreed to fully fund 11 of the requests, partially fund 89 requests and deny 13 requests, Hansen said.

Those "difficult decisions" were made in accordance with distribution guidelines, and denial of requests is not a negative reflection on any organization, he said.

"A passion and deep belief in the goals of all requesting organizations was evident in each application and in the subsequent presentations made to the commissioners," Hansen said. "I feel that the citizens of Washington County can really take pride in the scope of the nonprofit activities supporting the community."

This year's largest awards to charities are $160,000 to the Community Free Clinic of Washington County, $77,500 to REACH Caregivers and $62,907 to Friends of Safe Place Advocacy Center.

REACH Caregivers runs a cold-weather homeless shelter, provides volunteers to help homebound seniors and others in need, and helps people facing crises such as eviction and utility cutoffs.

Safe Place Advocacy Center is a facility for the investigation of child abuse cases designed to make the process easier for the child.

Leaders of many of the selected organizations attended Tuesday's meeting of the Washington County Commissioners to express their gratitude for the funding.

"This is a lifeline," said Buck Browning of the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County, which was awarded about $38,000 to fund transportation for its programs. "If those funds are taken out of our budget, we're talking hundreds of kids who would lose access to the seven programs that we operate in the county, so thank you."

David Jordan, executive director of the Washington County Community Action Council, said the $25,000 awarded to that organization allows it to have a place to operate.

"Without those dollars, we wouldn't be able to provide the service in the community that we do," Jordan said.

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