The building fund for the 6th District Police Boys and Girls Club came out a winner yesterday when a liquor store owner donated $1,000 from money he earned by selling a million-dollar winning lottery ticket.
For Gene Siegel, a third-generation liquor store owner, it was not a new experience. He did the same thing three months ago when he sold his first million-dollar ticket from his one-story, beige brick store at 3700 Minnesota Ave. NE in the Greenway neighborhood.
D.C. government employe Herman Alston made out pretty well yesterday, too, in a noontime ceremony at Siegel's Greenway Liquors store, where Alston collected a check for $55,000, the first installment on the $1.1 million prize he won in the Nov. 17 drawing.
Lottery Director Bernard Edwards also handed over an $11,000 check to Siegel. Agents of Lucky Lotto tickets receive a 1 percent commission on winning jackpots.
Siegel, 59, a graduate of Coolidge High School, said the local boys and girls club had been housed in the Greenway Shopping Center for several years before moving to Sousa Junior High School two years ago.
"I'd look out the window and see those kids in their uniforms getting into the van and I could tell they felt good about themselves," he said. "That is important for children. I didn't have to second-guess about the goals of that club. They were about positive things."
One goal of the Police Boys and Girls Clubs is to build a permanent facility for youths who live in the police department's 6th District, which includes a variety of low- and middle-income neighborhoods in Southeast and Northeast Washington east of the Anacostia River and north of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Of the eight clubs in the city's seven police districts, only two are operated in buildings owned by the club. Most have been housed in rented facilities or in school or church buildings, according to club director Fred Thomas.
"We now serve 3,000 children in the 6th District," Thomas said. "We have the potential to serve 14,000 children there."
Thomas said the $4 million building will be built on two acres leased from the National Park Service at 41st Street and Benning Road NE. So far they have raised about $1.7 Million.
"Most of our money comes in $5 and $10 donations," Thomas said. "Residents of the area have had bake sales and car raffles. This is a community effort."
Thomas said the new building will house a senior citizen center as well as the youth club. "Hopefully, the seniors will interact with the youngsters," he said.
Dana Shelley, spokeswoman for the lottery board, said she thinks Siegel is the first lottery agent to make a donation from his jackpot earnings to a community group. Previously, he had pledged $1,500 more to the building fund -- in addition to the $2,000 he has donated from lottery earnings.
"He has been in business there for a long time," she said. "He feels as though he is part of the community and that he is putting money back into the neighborhood."
Siegel said he regards his donation as an investment in the next generation.
"This is an obligation we have," he said. "Just as my parents helped me, I feel I need to help the children of the neighborhood."