story by Brittany Shepard | photos by Drew Chapman
The Dothan Area Young Professionals in partnership with the Cultural Arts Center will host its annual “Aces for the Arts” Casino Night on January 21, 2017, to benefit arts in the Dothan community. The night of fun and games has become one of the most anticipated social events of the year for members of DAYP and other young adults who typically attend.
“I have been involved for several years because of my membership in DAYP, but it’s an event that I would look forward to anyway because it is a lot of fun,” said Daniel Tew, current Chairman of the Board for Dothan Area Young Professionals. “Opportunities that this event provides are not really available around here – the games and festive atmosphere – and it is for a good cause so that makes it so much better.”
The event begins with a happy hour and heavy hors d’oeuvres. Each year, beer is donated by sponsors, and the Cultural Arts Center runs a full cash bar. The proceeds from the cash bar go directly to support the Cultural Arts Center’s theatre and art activities that they provide to the community. DAYP also donates proceeds from the night to the Cultural Arts Center.
“The event was started by the DAYP and Cultural Arts Center boards to bring awareness to the community about who the Cultural Arts Center is and what it does,” said Daniel. “And they do an excellent job hosting the event for us. We love to support them and their fundraisers like the Wiregrass Talent Quest.”
When the games begin, guests can choose to play at several blackjack tables, at a roulette table or at craps tables. Guests can also play poker at the many poker tables set up around the room. Professional dealers are hired for each table so that guests can enjoy a true casino-like experience.
Guests receive starter chips included in their ticket price and can buy additional chips throughout the night to keep their playing going.
“Towards the end of the evening, guests cash in their chips and receive tickets,” said Daniel. “They then go around and place their tickets in the boxes for the prizes they wish to win. Then the winners are drawn from the ticket boxes for each prize. It works kind of like a silent auction but with tickets.”
Each year local businesses donate goods and services as prizes, and there are always some excellent items to choose from. In the past, prizes have ranged from new iPads and televisions to a Green Egg Grill to gift cards to furniture.
“We always have great prizes like getaway trips, gift cards to local businesses, services like a free Will and Testament, sunglasses and more,” said Daniel. “Guests can choose to use their tickets however they want to – put them all on one coveted prize like a Yeti cooler or spread them around to different prizes.”
Tickets to the event are $50 per person for guests who are not members of Dothan Area Young Professionals. Members of the group pay only $25 for their ticket and may bring one other guest for $25. Businesses who sponsor tables and prizes also receive a set number of tickets depending on their sponsorship level. All guest tickets are available at the door the night of the event.
“Non-members can actually go ahead and sign up to become a member of DAYP at the door on the night of the event,” said Daniel. “Membership is $50 per year, so they would pay the membership fee then $25 for themselves and their guest. It ends up being the same amount if they buy tickets as a non-member, but they can now benefit from the membership to DAYP.”
The mission of Dothan Area Young Professionals is to connect young professionals in the Wiregrass to socialize, network and participate together in community outreach.
With a membership, individuals can enjoy monthly social activities called “Business Brews.” Chamber of Commerce member businesses host the event, DAYP provides free drinks to attendees. The time gives member the opportunity to meet new people and make business connections.
Quarterly, DAYP hosts a professional development luncheon. At each luncheon a local prominent businessman or businesswoman speaks to the group about how they got their start and grew their business. The speakers share their experiences with members and offer advices, encouragement and support. Past guests have included Dothan’s mayor, the City of Dothan Schools’ superintendent and well-known business leaders.
DAYP has an annual summer social as well as a Christmas social. They also host several fun events throughout the year including bowling tournaments and the human foosball tournament that always draws a big crowd. This year’s was held in October and was sponsored by the Dothan Real Estate Team. The event also featured football on a big screen, cornhole, a tailgate and giant Jenga.
One of the fundamental parts of being a DAYP is participating in community service. For outreach, DAYP partners with several community organizations.
At their Christmas social, they have a canned food drive, and they adopt a senior through SARCOA for the holidays. DAYP is also an Adopt-a-School partner for Grandview Elementary School, and they collect schools supplies at their summer social for students at the school. They volunteer at Grandview’s field day, cater a teacher’s appreciation lunch each year and provide a limo for students that meet their reading program goals.
“We are always looking for more opportunities for outreach to serve the community,” said Daniel.
For more information about Dothan Area Young Professionals and their “Aces for the Arts” Casino Night, visit the group’s website www.dothanyp.com. Contact them to sponsor a table or prize for the event.