Louisiana Downs donates $15k for language program

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A $15,000 donation from Harrah's Louisiana Downs to the Backside Benevolence Fund will reestablish the English as a Second Language (E.S.L) program offered to those working on the backside of the racetrack. Pictured are representatives from Harrah's Louisiana Downs, Horseshoe Casino & Hotel, the Backside Benevolence Fund, city, parish and state government during a check presentation at Harrah's Louisiana Downs.

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs has made a $15,000 donation to the Backside Benevolence Fund for its English as a Second Language (E.S.L.) program.

The mission of the Backside Benevolence Fund (BBF) is to assist and provide help to those working on the backside (or the stable/barn area) at Louisiana Downs.  Chaplain Jimmy Sistrunk of the Winner’s Circle Church at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs said the donation plays a crucial role in reestablishing the E.S.L. program, which was cut years ago due to a lack of funding.

“Education is the beginning of success and we feel honored to be able to offer educational opportunities to the workers in our industry,” Sistrunk said. “Harrah’s Louisiana Downs has always been so supportive and generous in assisting with the needs of our organization.”

The BBF will now be able to purchase supplies, computers and software for the program. Sistrunk said it will take a couple weeks to get everything ordered and in place before the first class is taught.

“We have quite a few people that will benefit from this,” Sistrunk said. “This will enable the workers who have not learned English a valuable opportunity to learn it and ultimately further their career and life.”

The E.S.L program will also serve as the first step for those wanting to obtain higher education, whether it’s in the form of a GED or a college degree. For that, Sistrunk said they are truly grateful to get the program started again.

Mike Rich, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Harrah’s and Horseshoe Casino & Hotel added, “On behalf of all of the employees at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, we are honored to be able to help with this valuable program. We focus our charitable giving on initiatives that truly make a different and the English as a Second Language Program that the Backside Benevolence Program provides definitely fits that description.”

The E.S.L. course will be taught twice a week by an instructor at the Winner’s Circle Church, located on the grounds of Louisiana Downs.