Meals on Wheels America is a household name —people know that the organization helps seniors access healthy meals without having to leave their homes. Ten million seniors nationwide struggle with hunger, so Meals on Wheels has a big (and important!) job to do. In fact, it’s the oldest and largest national organization supporting community-based programs dedicated to ending senior hunger.
For these reasons, Caesars Foundation has supported Meals on Wheels America since 2002, donating 60 meal delivery vehicles in 18 states – more than any other company. Meals on Wheels operates in virtually every community in America through a network of more than 5,000 independently-run local programs. In Memphis, not far from our Horseshoe Tunica and Tunica Roadhouse, Caesars Foundation just donated its 60th vehicle to the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA). This will help MIFA in its work to serve 12,876 meals each month to local seniors.
Caesars Foundation’s 60th vehicle donation to Meals on Wheels America. From left to right: R. Scott Barber, Horseshoe Tunica, Tunica Roadhouse; Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell; Ellie Hollander, Meals on Wheels; Thom Reilly, Caesars Foundation; Sally Heinz, MIFA.
In the words of Sally Jones Heinz, President and CEO of MIFA, “The addition of the vehicle will allow us to consolidate deliveries and utilize volunteers in other areas to be able to expand our services and serve more individuals across all of our missions as efficiently as possible.” Providing a meal is a worthwhile contribution on its own, but it also appears to be a health tool. Research conducted by Brown University found that those receiving Meals on Wheels’ home-delivered meals had lower anxiety, isolation, hospitalizations and falls compared to a control group that did not receive meals. The ongoing visits from friendly meal delivery volunteers are a bright spot in seniors’ days – and provide a needed safety check. For many seniors, Meals on Wheels enables them to “age in place” in their own homes, rather than be hospitalized or relocate to a long-term care facility.
Caesars Foundation’s donation to MIFA through Meals on Wheels is part of our annual Senior Appreciation Quarter (May-July). Maybe you’ve read about how we work with Second Wind Dreams to “grant” seniors’ dreams or with Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health to support healthy brains. It’s all part of Senior Appreciation Quarter and Caesars Foundation’s dedication to helping older individuals live longer, healthier, more fulfilling lives. Learn more about Caesars Foundation’s efforts to support seniors, and much more, here.
Each year, our HERO Stars Grand Prize celebrates Caesars Entertainment’s top three HERO Star volunteers. Past winners were awarded trips to Baltimore and Atlantic City to lead largescale volunteer activities, but this year we’re keeping festivities local so winners can celebrate with their coworkers, family and friends. As a bonus, winners get to lead a local volunteer activity with support from the Caesars Entertainment corporate team.
We’re excited to announce 2017’s top HERO Stars: Earnestine Richard, Dianna Lerma and Harrah’s Resort Southern California’s dynamic duo, Bryon Nuttall and Jerrod Phillips!
Over the past year, Ernestine has shown incredible dedication to the American Cancer Society Harrah’s Hope Lodge in Memphis, which provides free lodging and a warm, home-like atmosphere to cancer patients undergoing treatment.
Ernestine participates in regular Game Nights and Dinner Nights at the Hope Lodge, chatting with residents, serving dinner and playing bingo. The Hope Lodge’s manager greatly appreciates Ernestine’s kind dedication, saying that residents ask for her by name, hoping she’ll be joining them for dinner or bingo. Ernestine certainly is committed, having not missed a Game Night or Dinner Night since last January. In total, she’s volunteered a total of 71 hours, serving as a friendly presence to 240 cancer patients at a difficult time in their lives.
Dianna is known by guests and colleagues alike as the face of the Joliet Relay for Life, for which the community of Joliet rallies to support local agencies that provide care to people facing cancer. Dianna is proud to lead her colleagues in supporting cancer survivors, including financial support for treatment, wigs, rides and assistance for caregivers. Involved with the organization for more than five years, Dianna raised a whopping $12,500 in 2016 alone. Dianna also supports other community needs, including local Vietnam Veterans organizations and leukemia and lymphoma awareness.
Bryon Nuttall, Planning and Analysis Manager & Jerrod Phillips, Business & Process Improvement Manager,
For the second year in a row, Jerrod and Bryon led the charge for a local Soup and Beans Drive, helping Harrah’s Resort Southern California regain the top spot in the citywide competition. Between them, they brought in more than 600 cans of soup and beans, doing more than their share to ensure that 900 seniors in San Diego County would not go hungry. Jerrod also helped to pack thousands of cans for distribution.
Both Jerrod and Bryon have taken part in a number of volunteer activities over the past year, including our HERO Blood Drives, the Bowling for Equality event benefiting the Human Rights Campaign and our Giving Tuesday activities, such as the Oceanside Beach Clean-Up.
Pop the champagne! Caesars Entertainment has been named to the The Civic 50as the leading company in the consumer discretionary sector, which includes non-essentials like apparel, cars, travel and, of course, gaming and entertainment. An initiative of Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to helping companies build volunteer programs, The Civic 50 honors the 50 most community-minded companies.
The Civic 50 award recipients were selected based on four components: investment, integration, institutionalization and impact. Here’s what the components mean – and how our programs achieve results in these areas:
Investment: How companies apply resources like employee volunteering and donations to community engagement
Example: the Caesars Foundation has donated more than $72 million to local nonprofits that help older individuals, promote a more sustainable world and improve quality of life based on local community needs
Integration: How companies integrate their U.S. community engagement programs into key business functions
Example:Meetings for Good, which allows customers to incorporate community service into their events by connecting them to our nonprofit partners
Bonus Example: award-winning CodeGreen environmental program that focuses on the dramatic reduction of waste, water and carbon emissions
Institutionalization: How companies support community engagement through policies, systems and incentives
Example: our commitment to diversity. As of 2016, 42% of managers are women, and 34% of managers are minorities
Impact: How companies measure the social and business impact of their community engagement program
Example: HERO volunteer program, through which team members have reported more than 400,000 volunteer hours each year
Carolyn Wheeler, Director of Internal Communication & Employee Community Involvement Chair, and Margaret George, Corporate Responsibility Manager, accepting Community-Minded award from Neil Bush, Points of Light Chair.
Guests are part of communities, too, and they’re very important to us! That’s why we pioneered the casino entertainment industry’s first responsible gaming effort. Caesars works with the National Council on Problem Gambling, Inc., and provided the initial funding to establish the Council’s 24-hour toll free helpline. All Caesars’ properties also have Responsible Gaming Ambassadors who promote Responsible Gaming to guests and offer assistance to those that may not be gambling responsibly.
For these efforts and more, Caesars is in the top 10% of The Civic 50 list. We are humbled by the dedication of our team members – from HERO Chairs to CodeGreen enthusiasts to corporate and Foundation staff – that make this achievement possible.
Here at Caesars Entertainment, diversity and our caring culture are integral parts of our core values. What better time to celebrate those values than Pride Month?
For the past ten years, Caesars has received a 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index for our dedication to treating employees and guests equally. While we’re always learning new ways to support diversity and inclusion, here are a few suggestions on how companies can create a friendly and open workplace for people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions.
Show You Care
There are many different ways to show LGBTQ employees – and LGBTQ customers – you care. For example, we have a dedicated business resource group for LGBTQ employees and ally team members, EQUAL. The first of its kind in the gaming and entertainment industry, EQUAL provides professional networking and volunteer opportunities for its members and helps to foster and promote equality internally and externally for Caesars.
Benefits are another important way for companies to recognize families of all types. Healthcare is important, but there are other benefits that are appreciated, too. We are proud to offer benefits like Family and Medical Leave, bereavement leave and company discounts to domestic partners, same-sex spouses and opposite-sex spouses alike.
We also recognize the value that LGBTQ employees offer our company, so we make an effort to recruit LGBTQ candidates for jobs through career fairs at The Center, which serves LGBTQ community members throughout Southern Nevada.
Finally, companies can support local, state and federal policies that benefit their LGBTQ employees. As an example, we have long been public supporters of policies and advocacy around relationship recognition and anti-discrimination on state and federal levels.
Align the Business
A commitment to equality should be present throughout all aspects of a business for it to be truly meaningful. That’s why we work to not only care for our LGBTQ employees, but to support the entire LGBTQ community with our business practices.
Over the years, we have developed our nightclub scene, advertising and destination events to cater to LGBTQ guests and tourists. We also support Pride events around the country each June. Since Vegas is a great place to get married, we ensure our LGBTQ guests have wedding and honeymoon packages especially tailored for them. To ensure our marketing campaigns for LGBTQ guests are always authentic, EQUAL helps us brainstorm ideas.
We also support the LGBTQ community through our supplier diversity commitment of
economic inclusion. We track our spending with LGBTQ-owned suppliers just like we track spending with women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses.
Use Proper Pronouns
Gender identity and expression are important concepts, so we provide ongoing training to leadership and team members specifically related to LGBTQ issues. This helps us work to ensure that all guests feel comfortable visiting Caesars locations.
One question that comes up a lot is related to gender identity: an individual’s internal sense of being male, female, both or neither. It’s important to remember that this may or may not be visible to others through expression. Expression is how a person represents their gender identity through following typical behavior, clothing or body characteristics related to a specific gender.
Transgender people are those who identify as a different gender from which they were born. They may inform you of which pronoun (she/her, he/his, they/their – or something else entirely) they prefer. In the absence of knowing for sure, and where asking could create some awkwardness, we find using names to often work just fine.
We hope the above ideas have given you some food for thought as you think about how to make your company or workplace a more LGBTQ friendly environment.
Who says going green can’t be fun?!?! We asked our world-famous bartenders and chefs to create eco-inspired cocktails that were enjoyed around the country during April, which is Earth Month. And they rose to the occasion! The winners were selected based on the creativity and popularity of the cocktail. Check out these recipes, all of which are made with locally-sourced ingredients and served in a no-waste cup.
Our amazing team created more than 20 unique and delicious cocktails. The winners receive a $500 donation made to a nonprofit of the location’s choice. Read on for some happy hour inspiration, including photos and cocktail ingredients.
Our annual CodeGreen Challenge is a neck-and-neck competition for the greenest location of all! It gets our teams pumped up about reducing environmental impact and giving back to the communities where we live and work. This year, Caesars Windsor took the eco-friendly cake, with Harrah’s Ak-Chin in second place. It was too hard to pick a third place winner, so we awarded a tie to three locations in both Las Vegas and in Atlantic City!
Caesars Windsor employees with their families joined ERCA (Essex Regional Conservation Authority) to help plant over 2000 trees in their Annual Earth Day Tree Planting Event.
Clad in CodeGreen hockey jerseys, Caesars Windsor team members built team member and guest participation with CodeGreen activities. From collecting clothing to be donated to Goodwill, to gathering batteries, glasses and e-waste at properties, they made an impact while educating people on just how many household items should be recycled. Thanks to their efforts, more than 2,100 new trees were planted in the Windsor community and 1,500 Clean the World Hygiene kits filled with soap, shampoo and conditioner delivered to local shelters. Caesars Windsor’s work was so recognized that the media covered their efforts 20 times in a mere six weeks!
Caesars Windsor sweetened the deal for guests with giveaways, including three hybrid cars and CAD $30,000 (USD $22,300), plus double Total Reward credits for guests who opt in to the location’s CodeGreen hotel rooms.
Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino and the Ak-Chin Indian Community celebrating Earth Day by participating in Adopt A Highway Clean Up.
Harrah’s Ak-Chin secured its third consecutive CodeGreen Challenge win with another year of stellar participation: Two-thirds of team members took part in some kind of CodeGreen activity during the Challenge! One of the location’s big projects was ensuring that a planned demolition of a bingo hall didn’t create waste – team members ensured the donation of tables and chairs to the local Ak-Chin tribe, recycling in total more than 51,000 pounds of items.
On Earth Day, Harrah’s Ak-Chin had a special celebration in partnership with the Ak-Chin community, sharing a CodeGreen breakfast and educating people on all things green, from wildlife preservation to sustainable artwork. They took first place in the booth contest, drawing attendees in with their bicycle powered slot machine.
Team members representing Caesars Entertainment locations across Las Vegas entertained guests on Earth Day with outfits made from upcycled materials found at work.
Flamingo, Cromwell and LINQ worked together to host sustainability activities that touched thousands of guests and team members in the Las Vegas region. They supported two nonprofit partners – National Park Trust and Clean the World – by leading more than 100 elementary school students on an outdoor discovery adventure at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and setting up soap sorting days at the Clean the World recycling center. These locations also hosted the inaugural “Recycled Fashion Show” at the LINQ promenade, where our team members strutted across the runway in outfits made from upcycled materials.
Atlantic City leveraged Earth Month excitement to promote Meetings for Good, a menu of volunteer opportunities for our meetings and conventions clients. There were five groups that built in a Meetings for Good volunteer activity, supporting United Way, Humane Society, Clean the World and Salvation Army.
The three locations also hosted clean-ups, an Earth Day festival, participated in National Walking Day and much more. Plus, it was a special treat to see Hamiyd Washington, HR Trainer, dress up as Buddy Bison for local schools as part of the National Park Trust’s environmental education program!
Thanks to all Caesars Entertainment locations who participated in the CodeGreen Challenge this year!
While Caesars Entertainment and Caesars Foundation support older individuals year-round, May is particularly special as it is officially the beginning of Senior Appreciation Quarter. Each year, team members create special opportunities for seniors to inspire healthy aging and enhance quality of life. At the end of Senior Appreciation Quarter, we’ll share the fun and educational activities that took place at our locations around the U.S. For now, here’s one way we support seniors throughout the year in partnership with Caesars Foundation.
Second Wind Dreams is a nonprofit working to change the perception of aging through the fulfillment of dreams. Since 2009, Second Wind Dreams, Caesars Foundation, and HERO volunteers have fulfilled dreams and hosted events for 3,000-plus elders. To date, Caesars Foundation has contributed nearly $1.4 million to Second Wind Dreams.
Caesars Foundation supports Second Wind Dreams’ partnerships with Caesars locations in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and New Orleans. Activities vary based on local seniors’ interests. For example, in Las Vegas, High Roller Day is a hit. HEROs roll out the red carpet for seniors and give them a ride on the High Roller before it opens to the public. In Atlantic City, the Foundation at Second Wind Dreams hosts a luncheon at Harrah’s and takes elders to a Philadelphia Eagles football game. New Orleans is focused on monthly visits to nursing homes with a variety of fun activities, from manicures to bingo games to auctions. Seniors in the New Orleans nursing homes served by Second Wind Dreams are from especially disadvantaged backgrounds, so ongoing activities are appreciated.
Making Dreams Come True
“We strive to always have it be a surprise when we fulfill dreams,” says Amy Safran, Director, Community Relations for Second Wind Dreams. Read on to find out how Caesars Foundation funded dream fulfillment for two deserving older adults.
Stella is reunited with her niece Judy and Judy’s husband, Vito.
Stella: Ninety-year-old Stella, a resident of a Las Vegas area retirement community, has no family in the area. She is close with her niece, Judy, though they hadn’t spent time together in person in 10 years because Judy lives in Chicago. To surprise Stella, Second Wind Dreams flew Judy and her husband to the Senior Appreciation Luncheon at Mesa Grill at Caesars Palace. There were tears all around as aunt and niece reunited.
Martin chats with Harrah’s New Orleans HERO Chair Laurie about his visit to the New Orleans National WWII Museum.
Martin: Texas resident and World War II veteran Martin dreamed of visiting the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Because he lives in an assisted living facility, the trip wasn’t feasible. Second Wind Dreams flew Martin and his daughter to New Orleans and hosted them at Harrah’s. Second Wind Dreams also arranged for the museum staff to give Martin a special greeting in honor of his service to our country.
What do crosswords, social interaction and getting plenty of rest have in common? They’re all pathways to a healthy brain!
The risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders increases with age. At Caesars Entertainment, we care about seniors year-round and celebrate them during Senior Appreciation Quarter, so we support organizations like the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, which treats brain disorders.
Healthy Brains Initiative
In 2014, the Caesars Foundation provided a three-year, $600,000 grant to the Lou Ruvo Center to develop the Healthy Brains Initiative. Key to the initiative is – a website, app and online community dedicated to brain health. Taking the Healthy Brains assessment provides you with tips related to your health – not just the usual guidance to eat healthfully and exercise, but to volunteer, play games and even eat dark chocolate!
Putting our Heads Together to Make a Difference
Caesars’ HERO volunteers are always looking for ways to show their caring with our communities, so last year, we created a volunteer program called Smart HERO to support HealthyBrains.org in the Las Vegas region. By doing so, we extend the impact of the Caesars Foundation’s philanthropic dollars by using the brainpower and work of Caesars team members.
Smart HEROs were specially trained by Lou Ruvo Center on the Cleveland Clinic’s Six Pillars of Brain Health: social interaction, physical fitness, food and nutrition, medical health, sleep and relaxation and mental fitness.
The Smart HERO team educated both guests and fellow team members about brain health and helped them complete the assessment at HealthyBrains.org. Lou Ruvo Center was pleased to see Caesars’ involvement create a 10% increase in assessment takers last year! This year, we are expanding the Smart HERO program to properties across the globe so we can help Lou Ruvo reach people outside the Las Vegas region with its brain health guidance.
Thanks to this new expansion and our partnership with Luo Ruvo Center, this year’s Healthy Brains Day had phenomenal success. In 48 hours alone there was a +1,160 increase in Clinical Trials interest, a +1,735 increase in Newsletter Subscribers and a +1,847 increase in registrants.
Feeding Our Brains
For Healthy Brains Day this year, Caesars asked chefs to create Healthy Brains menus that serve up brain-healthy foods like salmon, vegetables and nuts. Meals will be served in Caesars restaurants as well as our employee dining room. For example, team members at Rio Las Vegas enjoyed sautéed green beans, kale salad with raspberry vinaigrette and slow-roasted salmon with cherry tomatoes.
Caesars Entertainment team members can often be found sharing our Caring Culture with the communities where they live and work. They volunteer their time, expertise, creativity and passion and we salute their efforts!
Two years ago, we launched a new recognition program for our HEROs, encouraging their managers and those they serve in the community to recommend their HERO volunteers for recognition. Each quarter, Caesars Entertainment celebrates HERO Stars whose volunteer efforts go above and beyond. This quarter, we are proud to honor three outstanding HEROs who gave their time and their efforts to make a difference.
Read on to learn about our HERO Stars for the first quarter of 2017. They’ll each receive a $500 check to share with the nonprofit of their choice. Three cheers to our three HERO Stars who make their communities better places!
According to Andrea’s supervisor, she is a role model both at and outside of work, contributing to donation drives at Harrah’s Cherokee as well as supporting her church and a local elementary school.
Andrea’s commitment to local first graders is impressive—she volunteers each Monday tutoring a group of four students who struggle with academics. Andrea even crocheted “thinking caps” for the kids to give them a fun way to remember to focus on their work.
Andrea also volunteers at her church twice each week, helping out in the church nursery during Sunday services and hosting disadvantaged children each Wednesday at the church for a home-cooked meal. Andrea’s group also provides toiletries, feminine hygiene products, jackets, shoes and more to the children as needed.
Of course, Andrea is engaged in Harrah’s Cherokee’s causes, too! In fact, her pay stub is two pages long because she has so many deductions taken out to support local nonprofits. She inspires her colleagues, too, leading the charge to provide Thanksgiving groceries to a local family in need. Andrea directed her $500 donation to “Kids Foods Bag” which provides grade school children with meals for the weekend.
Dianna is known by guests and colleagues alike as the face of the Joliet Relay for Life, for which the community of Joliet rallies to support local agencies that provide care to people facing cancer. Dianna is proud to lead her colleagues in contributing to support for cancer survivors, including financial support for treatment, wigs, rides and support for caregivers. Involved with the organization for more than five years, Dianna raised a whopping $12,500 last year alone.
Dianna also supports other community needs, including supporting local Vietnam Veterans organizations and leukemia and lymphoma awareness. Dianna has designated her $500 donation to go towards the Harrah’s Joliet Relay for Life team’s fundraising for American Cancer Society.
Keith is truly passionate about helping kids and has made one of the most significant commitments a person can: he is a foster parent. He currently fosters two boys, a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old, both of whom have special needs and require extra attention. Keith likes to get the kids to set goals in their lives and does whatever he can to help them be successful, giving selflessly of his personal time in addition to providing a safe and loving home.
Keith is also a basketball coach for three different teams. He loves watching the kids’ excitement when they win and also enjoys helping the kids through the disappointment of a loss, providing guidance for the next game. Keith had a total of 1,776.5 total HERO hours in 2016 and plans to beat this in 2017! His $500 donation will go to Arizona Special Olympics.
Just in time for Earth Month, our yearly CodeGreen Challenge gets team members even more involved in the community than usual, providing opportunities to support CodeGreen and give back to local causes. This year, we’ve challenged properties to create a CodeGreen cocktail made of local and sustainable ingredients.
Harrah’s New Orleans HERO volunteers partner with Rebuilding Together on renovating at least two homes per year. Harrah’s actively seeks out homes that need an eco-conscious upgrade, like energy efficient windows.
Addressing Coastal Erosion
According to Michael Ruffin, Community Relations Manager and CodeGreen Leader, “As Hurricane Katrina demonstrated, coastal erosion is a major environmental issue on the Gulf Coast. HERO has partnered with groups like the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation to plant native marsh grasses in the bayous and wetlands.”
He continued, “We’ve joined a national fight to protect our wetlands utilizing our most invaluable asset, people. Through our HERO program, we continue to develop strong partnerships with leading organizations to help alleviate environmental challenges. We have a long way to go, but we continue to make progress.”
Students and HERO volunteers clean up at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park
Secret to Last Year’s Success: Last year, to build interest in national parks, Harrah’s New Orleans introduced a costumed character, Olly the Oak Tree, from Bayou Segnette State Park. Olly made a special appearance in the team member cafeteria to spread the word about Nature Deficit Disorder, which can be cured with a visit to a national park.
2017 Plans: Like many Caesars Entertainment locations, Harrah’s participated in last month’s Earth Hour with guests and employees.
On March 31, the location’s HERO volunteers worked with Caesars Foundation and the National Park Trust to chaperone 110 fourth graders from Chalmette Elementary on a trip to Jean Lafitte National Historical Park.
Bourbon Street Old Fashioned
According to Michael, “Exposure is a major key to success. It’s important that we explore the history, arts, culture and landmarks with our youth. Those volunteering had an opportunity to teach, learn and most importantly, be of service to the next generation.”
CodeGreen Cocktail: The Bourbon Street Old Fashioned is made of southern whiskey and local citrus. Louisiana’s own Crystal Hot Sauce serves as a stand-in for the traditional bitters. Of the drink, Michael says, “This creative drink is a reflection of New Orleans’ vibrant culture. It’s also a delicious way to share the message of environmental conservation with both locals and visitors. We debuted it at our pop-up at the annual French Quarter Festival last weekend!”