MS. MANNS: My name is Taria Manns, and I'm a native of Atlantic City. I am currently employed by the Atlantic City Hilton, where I've worked in the capacity as a cocktail server for the past seven years. I am a union shop steward and maintain a position on the Grievance Committee, and I've been a member of Local 54 for about 15 years.

I had my first experience and pleasure working in the first house which was Resorts International back in 1978, the summer of my senior year, where I worked as a cocktail server. That fall I attended Fairleigh Dickinson University, and every summer I came home, right to the casino I went, only because the job market was vast and booming and the money was right.

At the end of my third year in college, I returned to the resort because of lack of financial backing, and became a bunny at the Playboy Casino. After several years as a bunny, I left the casino and landed a municipal position, which eventually didn't have enough money in the budget so I had to seek other means of employment.

During this time, I also had my first child, and met with some untimely levels of hardship. Here I was with a child, needing benefits for him and myself, because I am a chronic asthmatic, and had little or next to no money.

This then forced me back into the industry, the hours were viable, money was there to be made, and the benefits were excellent. I think this is when I really gained a lot of respect for the industry, because it was there at a very crucial time of my life.

I eventually got married and now have a second child. The casinos have allowed me to continue my education, I leave my husband caring for the children when I work my 4:00 a.m., to 10:00 a.m. shift I feel no need to worry. This also allows him to work his day job.

Now, on my days off I substitute kindergarten through 12th grade. Only in the casino industry could you find a job with such flexible hours. I still have my childhood memories, which I can share with my children and my grandchildren, of the Steel Pier and the high diving horse, the Million Dollar Pier, the Italian Water Ice and the Italian villages located where the Ocean I Mall is now.

I remember the surfers in the inlet, and best of all I remember the Sunday pony rides on the beach after church. That's what memories are for. Let's create some new ones. Times have changed and I welcome the change. I believe the casinos have brought a lot of help to our town and truly has helped me and my family.

Have a good day, and thank you.

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