SKANEATELES FALLS | It never hurts to gamble on a good cause.
And Friday evening, dozens of people flocked to enjoy the ninth annual Casino Night at The Lodge at Welch Allyn, putting their money — and support — behind Matthew House's mission.
Nestled in a quiet Metcalf Drive home in the heart of Auburn, Matthew House takes in terminally ill patients of all ages and provides them with round-the-clock care in their final days. And, despite the often high cost of caring for its residents, the nonprofit offers its services free of charge.
For that reason, fundraisers like Matthew House's Casino Night are essential to keeping the home running, said Georgina Pinckney, one of the nonprofit's board members.
"We don't receive any state, federal or local funding, so Matthew House is 100 percent funded by donations," she explained.
Although Casino Night served as lucrative fundraiser for Matthew House in its first eight years, Pinckney said the board decided to put the event on hiatus in 2008. But after three years of community members making inquiries wondering what happened to their favorite fundraiser, she said Matthew House couldn't resist bringing back the well-intentioned evening of gambling.
"It's kind of an event that's back by popular demand," she said.
From the number of people milling around The Lodge, it was clear the public was happy to recommit itself to Casino Night.
Dressed in tuxes, ties, cocktail dresses and floaty evening gowns, attendees sipped wine and nibbled on fondue-dipped bread as a teenager serenaded his audience with a Las Vegas-worthy rendition of Frank Sinatra's "The Lady is a Tramp." Other attendees sat around card tables, cheering when they were dealt a good hand and booing when they lost a pile of chips.
Jennifer Campanile, of Skaneateles, said she and her husband were happy to see Casino Night reinstated. Prior to its hiatus, Campanile said the couple made a habit of attending the event each year.
"He loves the fundraiser," she said of her husband. "This is the one fundraiser he makes it a priority to come to."
Although Campanile said she doesn't visit the card tables, she said she still appreciates Casino Night.
"We come to support Matthew House," she said. "We have a very good time."
And for Matthew House, Pinckney said having that kind of support is heartening.
"It's absolutely incredible," she said. "We couldn't do what we do without the community's support."