Chris -- and, Chris, how do you pronounce your last name?

MS. NECAISE: Necaise.


MS. NECAISE: Necaise.

CHAIRPERSON JAMES: Chris Necaise, welcome.

MS. NECAISE: Hi. My name is Chris Necaise. I'm an associate at Grand Casino, Gulfport, and please excuse my nervousness.

I would like to thank the Commission for the opportunity to speak here today on something I feel very strongly about. That is the positive effect gaming has had on my life, as well as countless other lives on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

When I first came to work for Grand Casino, Gulfport, I was a single parent on welfare. Back then when I looked to the future, it looked pretty bleak. Now when I look to the future, it seems brighter and much more secure.

I now have a sense of self-confidence and self-worth that was missing for many years. No longer will I have to suffer the embarrassment of buying groceries with food stamps. No longer will I suffer the humiliation of trying to find a doctor for myself or my son who will accept Medicaid.

Never again will my son have to suffer the indignities of being sent home from the hospital too soon after surgery because he was a Medicaid patient.

I now make a livable wage, and I stress the word "livable." Oh, wait. I lost my place.

I have medical and dental insurance for both myself and my son, and I also have a retirement fund. We now enjoy a much better standard of living. I've been able to build a nice, comfortable home for my family. I have dependable transportation now. I can even afford to take a vacation once in a while and enjoy some of the fun things in life instead of just barely surviving.

Most importantly, I don't worry so much about my son's future. I can give to my son so much more now than I could four and a half years ago. I'm not talking so much about the material things as I am about the things that a mother gives a child from her heart, that sense of worth and self-pride.

And Grand Casinos has given me that opportunity. I've been able to take numerous training classes offered by Grand Casino, such as computer classes, supervisory skills, and personal success skills.

In the near future I'm going back to college to take classes under our tuition reimbursement program, and for the first time in many years thousands of people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast -- oh, no, no, no, I lost my other page -- have the opportunity for a much better life style than most could ever have imagined for themselves or their families.

Five or six years ago when you looked around, you saw a community that stagnated, kind of dead in the water. Now when you look around, you see the boom and bustle of growth and opportunity, and I would like to take this opportunity to extend an invitation to the committee to visit the Mississippi Gulf Coast to see that boom and bustle for yourselves. You'll see hundreds, if not thousands, of people just like me whose lives have been changed for the better.

Thank you.

CHAIRPERSON JAMES: Chris, thank you, and you did an excellent job.

MS. NECAISE: Well, I'm still shaking.


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