Soboba Casino Resort helps employee reach a decadeslong goal

Hemet’s Dayshawn Townsend, 51, credits his new employer, Soboba Casino Resort, with helping him realize a decadeslong goal of completing his high school diploma. Valley News/Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians photo

When Dayshawn Townsend became employed by Soboba Casino Resort in San Jacinto he did not know that it would lead to his fulfillment of a longtime goal he had set for himself. As a teenager, living in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, he got off track and dropped out of high school.

Becoming a father at the age of 16 created an obligation to go to work. Finishing school was not an immediate priority for him but Townsend, now 51, believed he would eventually have an opportunity to return and get his diploma. That did not happen until he started working for the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians a few months ago.

This company put me first – and that’s never happened to me before,” he said. After working in the health care field as a certified nursing assistant, among other service-industry jobs for the past 25 years, he said working at the casino has been more than he could have hoped for.

A few of his colleagues attended his drive-thru graduation ceremony at the Hemet Adult School July 17. The following day, a surprise congratulatory graduation party was held at SCR, before the start of his shift for the day.

Several members of SCR’s marketing department, led by Chief Marketing Officer Martin Moore, lined the hallway where Townsend entered for work that evening. The applause and well-wishes filled the air as he was given a symbolic cap and gown to wear during the party. He was presented with a medallion from his supervisor, Player Services Manager Priscilla Frank.

“She’s the best boss ever,” Townsend said. “Finding a place like this to work at has been a long time coming for me. It’s the first place where I feel like I’m coming to a home when I come to work.”

When he applied for the position of Player Services Ambassador in March, Townsend did not meet the education requirement of a high school diploma or equivalent, but he impressed staff with his honesty and extensive experience working with people. An offer was made to hire him with the condition he complete his education within one year of his hire date. He did it in three months.

Human Resources Director Gloria Baron said several team members have been hired under conditional employment, especially during the pandemic when it was difficult for some to complete all the requirements right away. At the party, she presented Townsend with a Soboba goodie bag that included a $100 Amazon gift card and a complimentary dinner for two at Canyons, the resort’s fine dining steakhouse.

Townsend, a Hemet resident for the past 10 years, works with fellow Ambassador Ryan Clauson, of Wildomar, who has been on the job for nine months. Formerly, Clauson worked in retail and said he wanted to try something new. He attended the party on his day off to show support for his friend.

“I love it here – it’s a really good place to work,” Clauson said. “Everyone is so friendly, and Priscilla is the best boss ever.”

The ambassador position has existed since the casino opened in the spring of 2019 and was created when a need emerged for someone who could assist guests that have questions about being a Players Club member. Working on the gaming floor, the ambassador’s job is to communicate with all guests and ensure all their questions are answered and needs are being met. When special events resume, they will help with contacting members to let them know if and when they are entitled to special discounts.

“We welcome all different personalities for this position; we just need someone who is personable, outgoing and not afraid to approach people,” Frank said. “When I interviewed Dayshawn, I felt his sincerity. He was very humble, and he was dressed to impress.”

Townsend has completed many certificate and licensing programs during his employment in several fields such as social services and working at an adult residential facility for developmentally disabled clients. He is also licensed to work as an armed security officer.

“I love being around people and I think Priscilla saw that in me,” he said. “I applied at Soboba because I wanted to be closer to home and I told my wife it would be nice to go to work, punch in, clock out and come home. I’m never told ‘you can’t leave’ like I was at some of my other jobs.”

With the nature of the jobs he held in the past, there was always the possibility he would need to work an extra shift to cover for someone who didn’t show or have to stay longer to complete paperwork or something else that began during his regular shift. Working 12-hour shifts as a CNA, his schedule never lined up with his ability to attend night school.

“One hand washes the other, but one hand rewards the other, too,” Townsend said. “I want to tell everyone to go to Soboba because they’ll make it possible for you to reach your goals, as long as you are willing to do your part. You have got to put in the work, but they give you the tools to do the job and succeed in your regular life, too.”

When he applied for the ambassador position, he was told his work schedule would be set around his schooling, but it turns out he didn’t need to do that. Because of the pandemic, everything was still being done online and Townsend did not have to wait. He dove right into his credit recovery as soon as he applied for the job. He worked on a few credits in the morning and sometimes before going to bed at night. Working at his own pace, he kept plugging away at each class until his teacher recently notified him that he had only one class to go.

“I’m willing to share my story with others about what Soboba has done for me and what a great place it is to work,” Townsend said. “I’d love to talk at some of the high schools to reach the kids who are like I used to be so they know there is a place for them where they can make a career for themselves. Soboba is part of their community, and they should know what it can offer them. The community needs to know that Soboba cares, and I’m willing to be their voice; I am living proof.”

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