Sunday, April 29, 2012

Spring Benefit

card game Blackjack
card game Blackjack (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Last night, my wife and I attended the annual Spring Benefit for the foundation that sponsors the school that our son attends.  In addition to the school for children with developmental disabilities, the foundation supports a number of group homes.  Their latest project is to build two group retirement homes for those that have been a part of the school and open community group homes.  The groundbreaking for those homes was yesterday.

My nephew on my wife's side of the family also attended the school and graduated a couple of years ago.  My in-laws have been a major contributor to the school and foundation.  Now that our son is also a student at the school, my in-laws continue to be active with the foundation.  In fact, my father-in-law is on the board of directors for the foundation.

Every year, the foundation holds a big spring benefit as one of its major forms of fundraising.  It is not an event that my wife and I would normally be able to afford to attend, but my in-laws always sponsor a full table and we are able to attend.  They also usually invite the teacher and aide that work directly with their grandchildren, first our nephew and now our son.

In the past, the dinners have always been a formal affair.  They are usually a sit down dinner with assigned seating, and are usually black tie optional.  You see a lot of tuxedos and evening gowns.  I go for the nicest suit in my closet.  This year, however, the room that the foundation reserved was not quite as large as in the past, so they opted for a less formal affair; a casino night.

As part of the casino night, they set up a "Wall of Wine."  There were over 100 bottles of wine donated for this part of the event, including two bottles that we donated.  For $10 per chance, you could pick out a mystery bottle of wine.  I bought two chances, and somehow managed to get two bottles of Kendall Jackson Chardonnay.  The person running that event gave me a third bottle from the grab bag as a consolation prize.

I have to say that the casino night was a blast.  When you signed in at the table to get your name badge, you were given a certificate for $2500 in casino money.  You could gamble all night with your money.  If you ran out, you could purchase more casino money.  At the end of the evening, you could cash in your chips for the opportunity to win one of the cash door prizes and/or purchase items for the new home.

My wife is not a gambler, so she gave me most of her chips.  She gave some to our nephew.  I started the evening with $4500 in casino money.  I pretty much just played blackjack for the night.  They also had roulette, craps, slot machines, Texas Hold 'em poker, and video horse racing.  I ended the night with $8000 in casino money.

With my $8000 in casino money, I was able to purchase five chances (the most they would let you have) towards the door prizes.  With the remaining $3000 in casino money, I was able to pick out a little more than $100 worth of decorations and items for the group home.  Unbeknownst to me, you could have also traded  in casino money for cash.

My wife and I do not often have the opportunity to donate much to charity, though we would like to do more.  We usually end up donating our time more than anything else.  This year, the foundation had asked my mother-in-law to consider being the regional co-chair for the foundation.  She suggested my wife as a potential co-chair since our son is a student at the school.  She spent a lot of time and did a lot of work for the foundation leading up to the event.

As I said, we do not have the opportunity to give much in terms of financial support to charity.  Prior to the event, I decided that if I was to win one of the door prizes that I wanted to donate half of the money back to the foundation because of the great work they do.  We discussed that possibility prior to the event and my wife and I agreed that if we won anything, we would donate half to the foundation.

As luck would have it, my name was the first name to be drawn.  I walked up to the stage and collected $500 in hard, cold cash.  I turned the chairman of the board and told him that I wanted to donate half of my prize to the foundation.  That set the precedent, because all but one of the other five door prize winners ended up donating half of their winnings to the foundation.

We ended up staying at the hotel last night.  After we had breakfast and checked out of the hotel, we headed to the school for a visit with our son.  We continue to be amazed at the improvement he is showing, especially in his diet.  He has gone from eating only chicken and bacon to now eating peas & carrots, roast beef, mashed potatoes, grilled cheese, and hashed browns.

My wife has decided that she wants to devote more time to doing things for the foundation.  We have been participants in the Baysox Boosters, but she has decided that she wants to cut back drastically on that.  Her focus now wants to be on doing work for the foundation.  We have three more years of our son being a student there, and I can't think of a better way for her to spend her time.
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