Tribal members are grateful and reach out to community ◆ By Mike Hiles
Elders of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians used their annual Thanksgiving Luncheon on Nov. 13 to coordinate upcoming holiday parties at neighboring reservations and to vote on the group’s major trip for 2019.
There are about 120 tribal members who are at least 55 years of age, qualifying them to be included in elders’ activities. An elected governing board keeps things organized with help from Elders Coordinator Erica Schenk. Monthly meetings and many social events are planned and well attended by at least half of the members who stay very active.
President Frances Diaz said being part of the elders’ group is important.
“I think we owe it to ourselves to be active members – it’s a great social time,” she said. “I’m thankful for my health and my family and that our community is being blessed in many ways.” Vice President Carlene Masiel started attending the elders’ meetings when her mom was part of group and has been with the group ever since, having been elected to the board.
“I’m thankful that we can still gather together – some of our members live out of town but try to make it to our luncheons,” she said.
Secretary/Treasurer Raina Maciel said activities are always based on a consensus of the what the group wants to do.
“It is so exciting this year that our Christmas party will be at the Queen Mary,” she said, adding that some will be staying overnight on the ship. “A lot of planning goes into everything we do and I work closely with Erica to make all arrangements. We start in August to plan for our Christmas and New Year’s parties. My job is to make sure we stay on budget.”
Rosemary Morillo likes the elders’ group activities for all the memories it creates and she is thankful for all she has when compared to those who lost homes and belongings in recent wildfires.
“Being thankful is an everyday thing – people need assistance all the time. When it strikes closer to home we just notice it more but we should take the time to always think of others,” she said.
Marian Chacon said the Thanksgiving luncheons used to be potlucks but have been catered at the Soboba Springs Golf Course for the past few years.
“I am thankful for my family, my health and all my friends,” she said.
On Nov. 16, Chacon attended the Family Feast held at the Soboba Tribal Preschool which her great-grandson attends. Four-year-old Tuukut Adame was also joined by his parents Karlie Chacon and Eric Adame to eat a lunch of turkey with all the trimmings and pumpkin pie for dessert.
“He sings at home and is always happy,” said his mom. “He has lots of best friends.”
Each classroom had its own celebration but the school is very close-knit according to director Dianne King who has helped her staff implement many parent events.
“It has been a very busy month and we incorporated Thanksgiving with Veterans Day, talking to the children about the difference between being thankful and ungrateful,” she said. “We focused on how to appreciate what we have in life and how important it is to make a difference. The children discussed who they are thankful for in their family.”
Kindergarten teacher Cindy Lee said she is thankful for her personal family and her work family, who all give her such great support and keep her grounded.
Antonia Venegas is an aide in the kindergarten classroom.
“I am thankful for being able to have such an influence on our tribe by working with the kindergartners and being part of their successes,” she said.
Many people will be thankful to have their dream job when the Soboba Casino Resort hosts its first Job Fair from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 26. About 600 positions will be filled in the coming months for all departments: accounting, finance, food and beverage, golf maintenance, hotel, human resources, information technology, marketing, purchasing, security, gaming areas and transportation/valet.
Human Resources Director Gloria Baron said she likes the personal touch of meeting potential employees face-to-face.
“We want candidates to see our new home and get excited about it like we are,” Baron said. “This job fair allows the candidates to see how well the Soboba team/family works together.”
For most of the positions, interviews will be held on the spot. Candidates must be at least 21 years old to apply for any position and if they don’t have an updated resume, they will have the opportunity to fill out a job history form that will be made available to them.
In her experience working at Soboba for the past 14 years, Baron said the food and beverage positions are the most challenging ones to find qualified employees for due to the volume they need and the experience they would like them to have.
A second job fair is being planned for December and trainings, specific to the position and overall orientation, are also in the works. Employees will be training at the new facility to learn where everything is located so they will be successful in completing their tasks and providing exceptional guest service.
“I am looking forward to the new opportunities the Soboba Casino Resort will bring for our employees and the community,” Baron said. “We are also looking forward to becoming a full destination resort.”
Being busy with the replacement casino has not stopped the workers and volunteers from continuing the annual Toy Drive in conjunction with the Soboba Foundation. The final two days of collections will be Nov. 26 and Dec. 3 from 12 to 8 p.m. at the current Soboba Casino location.
A new, unwrapped toy valued at $20+ can be exchanged for a $40 Free Slot Play voucher. Toys must be accompanied by a receipt. More than 6,000 toys were collected last year and distributed to low-income children throughout the community by way of service groups, nonprofit organizations, the San Jacinto Unified School District and local non-gaming tribes.
More information on the job fair and toy drive can be found at www.soboba.com.