Employees volunteer while casino is closed - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Employees volunteer while casino is closed

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WSIL -- Harrah's Metropolis Casino and Hotel remain closed due to floodwaters, but employees haven't necessarily been out of a job.

The casino is paying employees to get out in the community and work at local shelters and senior homes. 

Some of the employees are helping serve meals at River City Mission in Paducah. 

The organization is a homeless shelter for single men and families, a much different clientele then what Harrah's Head Chef Ryan Ewell is used to.

"There's a lot more stress involved in restaurant day-to-day operations then whenever you're in here," Ewell said. Here we are cooking home-cooked meals and trying to make things that people will really enjoy. 

Lately, Ewell has been cooking in a different kitchen while the casino and hotel are closed due to flooding. 

Ewell says he's used to cooking for 300 people, but at the shelter he makes food for about 60. 

This chef is one of Harrah's 450 employees volunteering around the area. 

"Not only do they (Harrah's) encourage us to go out in the community, but they inspire us to be our best," Ewell said. 

Shirley Barlow is the Chairman of the Board for River City Mission. She says the mission's full-time chef has been in and out of the hospital so having volunteers from Harrah's has been a blessing. 

"Having these people come in from Harrah's has made him (chef) so happy because it gives him some relief," Barlow said. "The food has been great, the volunteers that have been here are so open and friendly."

As for Chef Ewell, he says the kitchen and the clientele might be different, but has found there are more things in common than what he thought. 

"Food is one thing we are really all connected to," Ewell said. 

Currently there is no time frame on when Harrah's will reopen. 

Click here to visit River City Mission's website. 

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