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Party with a purpose


When: November 1st (7p.m. to 11p.m.)
Where: Georgia Piedmont Technical College
Price: $60 a ticket - Purchase tickets online at
Age Limit: 18+

Normally gambling can lead to late nights and empty wallets — with dark-circled eyes staring at a dealer’s hands, or a depressing bank statement at 4 a.m. outside an ATM.

But for one November night in Covington, the ‘Casino’ is in town. And it’s the one time you may want the house to win. As part of the Washington Street Community Center’s 9th Annual Casino Night, residents can purchase a ticket to try their hands at gambling for a cause.

“Our theme for this year is: What can $60 buy?” said Vender Maddox, President of the Washington Street Community Center Board of Directors. “It will get you tickets for the casino, where you’ll have the most fun playing with play-money … and it’ll buy you food and drinks for the night.”

The real bargain for Maddox, though, is the long-term effects the donations will bring to the Center and the programs that benefit from them.

“Further than that,” she said, “it also allows you to help a child, to get involved — and change a life.”
Maddox said the ‘Washington Center’ has stood the test of time serving the Newton community for 22 years. And for many children enrolled in programs offered by the Center, she said it’s one of few places these kids can find a positive influence.

“Our programs are here to help underprivileged children succeed,” she said. “We’ve had kids come through this program who are usually never given the light of day and have watched them succeed and go to college.”

Portions of the proceeds will go toward an after-school homework tutorial program that the Center is commonly known for. Additionally, there are plans to coordinate with local farmers and volunteers to create a community garden for growing fruits and vegetables.

Bea Jackson, the Executive Director of the Center, said she wants to use the garden as a teaching platform, “to provide and cook the meals we have grown in our garden,” she said, “to help feed the children and families we serve.”
The Center also houses a Girl Scout troop of 25 girls, and a new program, “The Boys Mentoring Program,” targeted for male guidance.

“Folks are extremely excited about it,” Jackson said. “That particular program will reach out to boys that could use a healthy male influence … to help them become responsible, and good citizens of our community.”
She said a similar program for girls age 10-17 called, “Divas of Destiny,” practices the same teaching styles, and, “It focuses on self-esteem and all of those kinds of issues for girls and young adolescents,” Jackson said.
Aside from the communal enrichment of the youth, Casino Night still gives adults a chance to be a kid again — and have an opportunity of winning the event’s special prize.

“The more you play, and the more you win … the more tickets you have — the more chances you have for the grand prize,” Maddox said. “In the past we’ve had a laptop or tablets, or some type of electronic thing … and the grand prize is usually donated. Last year it was donated by Wal-Mart, and this year … it just depends on who gives the best donation.”

Jackson’s main concern is fundraising for the kids — but she wants to have some fun too.

“We call it a party with a purpose,” Jackson said. “We see it as a wonderful marketing opportunity for the community to get to know us … we really want to provide for our children.”