BINGO FOR A CAUSE01 December 2020 Written by By Christine Douglas
Published in December 2020 Articles
Daub for Kids
awindfall of money can be life changing! All your dreams can suddenly be made a reality with the proper financial infusion. People buy lottery tickets, enter into drawings, or head to Las Vegas with stars in their eyes just waiting for their lucky day when all their hopes and dreams can come to fruition–if only they could win big. There are few though, who feel there is a higher purpose for money. Sure, it’s nice to be able to buy anything you want, whenever you want it. But how about if you were to share that wealth and aim it toward a cause you were passionate about? How much better could you make the world or even just your own community? It is a special, giving soul who finds a way to make wealth work for others after finding themselves suddenly wealthy. In 2012, Francine McMahon was doing what she enjoys during her free time; she was parked in front of a slot machine at Cache Creek Casino when fate struck her hard! She became a huge winner.
“I love gambling in any capacity, but I have a special love for playing bingo. Even as a young girl, I would go and play with my mom. I was only 18 when I decided that at some point, I would open a bingo hall.” In 2009, Francine worked at a hall in Pittsburg. The funds generated from that hall went toward a local sports team, but Fran thought there was a much greater need throughout the community for kids’ sports programs. Fran had met Teri Eslinger, another bingo aficionado who was a caller at another Oakley bingo hall. They became friends and shared many nights at different locations, playing side by side, marking up paper with ink, and trying to catch a bingo. Fran shared her dream with Teri of one day owning a bingo hall. Teri said she’d help her with it if it were to happen. Always in the back of her mind was how the money earned through that hall could benefit so many.
“After hitting that big jackpot, I put a plan into action for finding a hall to host lots of people and accommodate lots of parking. Battling for youth permits was tough, I persisted for a few years. I tried to locate in the city of Brentwood; unfortunately, it didn’t work out. Oakley made the process a bit easier, so we opened our organization there. We donate mostly to youth teams in Oakley, but our funds are made available to all of Contra Costa County.” Fran formed the nonprofit organization Daub for Kids Bingo and is president while Teri serves by her side as secretary. They officially opened at 2107 Main Street in Oakley in the Cypress Shopping Center on September 9, 2016. The generosity and support that comes out of this nonprofit is made evident regularly.
On any given evening during their scheduled bingo sessions, groups of uniformed kids frequently gather outside the doors. The Antioch Choir has walked in procession into the hall to happily receive an oversized check. Many local schools have been supported by monetary donations from the hall, primarily funding their sports activities on campus. Giddy groups of little league kids, soccer teams, football players, and dance troops have all been benefactors of large donations that have kept them afloat when funding ran dry. Fran says, “We always bring these kids in when we present them with their check, to show our players what their money is going toward. Sure they are here trying to win some money, they are having fun socializing, but the real goal here is the giving.”
There are two $5,000 Daub for Kids senior scholarships available per year for students of Freedom High School.
“This is much needed assistance for these graduates, and it’s going toward them building their future.”
Candidates must earn at least a 3.5 GPA and have done 150 hours of community service to be eligible. In addition, an essay must be submitted, and winners are picked from an average of about 30 applicants. Teri shares, “The best part is when the winner comes in and shares which college they are looking forward to attending. One recipient was headed to Yale! This is much needed assistance for these graduates, and it’s going toward them building their future. It feels great to know we are contributing to that.”
During the fall, Fran enjoys her yearly Backpack Drive benefitting Oakley Unified Elementary. She personally fills 150 backpacks with all the supplies a student needs and delivers them to the superintendent for distribution to those that need it most in the district. Toys for Tots happens every holiday season. For every bingo buy-in, $5 goes into an envelope. On Black Friday, Fran, Teri, and the rest of the volunteer crew go shopping and load up carts with bicycles, helmets, Legos, cameras, board games, tablets, and all good things for local children who would ordinarily go without these gifts. Last year, they bought $10,500 worth of toys and made a $3,500 monetary donation to Friends of Oakley, an agency that provides holiday meals to entire families in need. Fran hosts a special kids bingo night during the holidays also. The children in attendance get pizza, snacks, juice, even a visit with Santa. Then they play bingo to win gift cards and various prizes.
One frequent player at the hall, Jannyse Tobar, has known Fran for 12 years, she shares, “Fran is a kind and giving woman who values people, has a huge heart, and does awesome for kids because of it.” The typical bingo player is a voracious sort. They will do whatever it takes to play. It’s a great activity to do with friends, and particularly for seniors, it may be their only form of social interaction. Some players will be at every session, in the same chair, surrounded by their lucky charms and troll dolls on the table. They are playing to win, but their presence means so much more.
“The team at Daub is more like a family, they play together and work together even harder, keeping Fran’s dream alive of providing for the kids participating in sports throughout the community.”
Stacy French was a volunteer at Blue Devils Bingo in Concord for 17 years when she became acquainted with Teri. She has now been a volunteer at Daub for Kids for three years. Says Stacy, “So much of their revenue goes back to schools and teams, people playing here feel good knowing where their money is going. They get to experience it firsthand when the kids come in.” The team at Daub is more like a family, they play together and work together even harder, keeping Fran’s dream alive of providing for the kids participating in sports throughout the community. Says Fran, “Bingo players are demanding, it takes the right personality with lots of patience to be part of this team.”
The ultimate goal Fran has been striving toward is a facility that houses both bingo and a boys and girls club type organization. Everything would be under one roof being funded by the proceeds the hall is bringing in. Multiple generations of East Contra Costa County reap the benefits of this organization. Daub for Kids Bingo is a destination for seniors where they can be among friends and chat for a while; it’s a place where the community comes together to foster the youngest of its neighbors while keeping vital activities available for the future generations.
The generosity that spreads from this one location is seen scribbled out on mini chalkboards hanging throughout the interior of the hall: Freedom High $15,000, Heritage High $3,000, Die Hards $5,000, East County Little League $7,500. Those donations were last year. This year, they barely survived the COVID-19 shutdown. They had just enough in their coffers to make it until they were able to hold outdoor bingo in the parking lot behind their building. Fran shared, “It was close. We still gave away the scholarships because they were promised. We had to pay for rent, insurance, and supplies. It was tough, but we made it work.” When asked if she anticipated doing any sort of fundraising to help with the upcoming holiday giveaways the hall supports every year, Fran stated very matter-of-factly, like a true philanthropist, “We are the givers. It’s just our way.”
Photos by Melissa Van Ruiten