Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Junior Woman’s Club Celebrates 60 Years with Casino Night

Casino Night will feature blackjack, craps and poker tables as well as raffles and a silent auction. (Courtesy Junior Woman's Club of Williamsburg)
Casino Night will feature blackjack, craps and poker tables as well as raffles and a silent auction. (Courtesy Junior Woman’s Club of Williamsburg)

The Junior Woman’s Club of Williamsburg marked its 60th anniversary in April and will celebrate this weekend with a Casino Night fundraiser.

The 10th annual Casino Night has been super-sized to include both a fundraiser to benefit Bacon Street and a walk down memory lane for the club, which includes area women in their 20s, 30s and 40s who wish to get involved and give back to the community.

“Speaking from personal experience, [joining the Junior Woman’s Club] has been a great way to get involved and meet new friends,” said Laura Vlk, co-second vice president of the club and Casino Night chairwoman. “All these women are seeking community.”

The goals of giving back to the community while building friendships with other women have been at the forefront of the Junior Woman’s Club’s mission over the past 60 years.

Though the world and the community have drastically changed over that time span, the organization, which is a member of the General Federation of Woman’s Clubs, has consistently attracted civic-minded women from Williamsburg, James City County and the Bruton District of York County.

As the Historic Triangle has grown, so has the number of nonprofit organizations within it. With the proliferation of nonprofits that took place in the past several decades in particular, Vlk said she feels like there is an organization to match every interest.

Club members provide volunteer and financial support to a range of events, causes and organizations, including An Occasion for the Arts, Literacy for Life, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Hospice House and Support Care of Williamsburg, James City County Police Department, Olde Towne Medical and Dental Center, Williamsburg Youth Orchestra and dozens more.

In addition to grants for local charities, the club also awards scholarships to high school students at Lafayette, Jamestown, Warhill and Bruton. In the past two years, the money awarded via grants and scholarships has amounted to more than $66,000.

Much of that money comes from the club’s major annual fundraisers, which include the Casino Night, Breakfast with Santa and Art on the Square. The oldest of these events almost dates back to the club’s inception; Art on the Square will celebrate its 53rd anniversary this April with a juried show featuring 170 artists to raise money for local visual and performing arts.

Casino Night and Breakfast with Santa, in its seventh year, are not nearly as old but contribute significantly to the yearly fundraising total. Club members are hopeful Whistle Belly, a beer festival presented in partnership with DoG Street Pub that debuted this past summer, will become the fourth permanent major annual fundraiser.

“We are really looking forward to continuing that relationship [with DoG Street Pub] and hopeful we’ll keep doing that event,” Vlk said.

Saturday’s Casino Night will be the third one to benefit Bacon Street, a local counseling center for troubled teens. Though Bacon Street will be the headlining beneficiary, Vlk is hopeful there will be enough money raised to go around to several other worthy organizations as well.

“We do our best to figure out how to support everyone as much as we can,” Vlk said.

If the allure of contributing to a good cause alone is not enough, Vlk promises the casino atmosphere is worth experiencing.

“It’s quite exciting and people have a lot of fun every year,” Vlk said.

This year’s 1950s-themed event will include blackjack, craps, poker, live music, raffles, food provided by Culinary Connections and an open bar. There will also be a silent auction featuring family and date-night oriented items and experiences from local businesses.

In keeping with the anniversary theme, club members have also gathered memorabilia from the past decades of the club to showcase its extensive history. Several past club members will be in attendance.

“It is going to be a really great time, we have so much fun with it every year,” Vlk said. “We have fun with all our fundraisers, but the best part of the year is actually in February when we get to hand out all the money we’ve raised. We want to give back as much as possible – that’s the legacy of our club.”

Casino Night will take place from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday in Alan B. Miller Hall at the College of William & Mary.

Tickets are $65 for one ticket or $120 for two, and they can be purchased here or at the door.

For more information about the Junior Woman’s Club of Williamsburg, click here.

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