Inspired by my childhood friend, Marianne, and her upcoming blog about Good News (she’s right – aren’t we all tired of hearing about the bad news in the world day after day?), today’s post is about a local “turning lemons into lemonade” story.
On March 20, the Empress Casino in Joliet, IL (about an hour outside of Chicago) suffered a huge fire that destroyed the casino’s entrance and forced the casino to shut its doors and evaluate whether or not it could even afford to re-open. Empress Casino is a big employer in the Joliet area so this fire affected thousands in an area that has already been pretty hard hit by the recession. Instead of laying off these thousands of workers and deciding to just close the casino for good, Penn National Gaming, owner of the casino, is paying all of the workers their full pay and benefits for 90 days.
What does Penn want from its employees in exchange for the pay and benefits? They are encouraging all employees to volunteer in the community while Penn works to re-build Empress so that it can open on two salvageable floors at the end of June and to its full capacity in about a year to a year and a half.
Today, Empress held its first Empress Day where Frank Quigley, vice president and general manager for Empress, welcomed hundreds of Empress employees who will assist a number of local charities including Catholic Charities in Joliet, the Forest Preserve of Will County, Lambs Fold and Habitat for Humanity.
As Mike Hennessy, president and chief executive officer for United Way of Will County, told the Chicago Sun-Times, “Some will see their efforts make a difference right away and others will see them down the road in places such as the family that moves into the Habitat for Humanity home they will be working on. What they will accomplish today and over the next several weeks will do so much to enhance the quality of life in our community.”
I love this story because it is “good news” on so many levels – the employer who takes care of employees in a sudden time of tragedy, asking those employees who will continue to receive a paycheck and benefits to take care of those around them by volunteering in the community and the number of employees who came to kick start Empress Day. Each one of us can, and do, make a difference to those around us. Looking for a place to volunteer? Check out Volunteer Match. Keep up the good work and enjoy some good news!