Throughout the past year, I have written a lot about how I have witnessed Central Washington come together in times of crisis. The challenges of a global pandemic are certainly unprecedented, but individuals, families, healthcare providers, and local businesses have stepped up to the plate to provide support for our communities.

The resiliency of our district is inspiring, and while we still have challenges to overcome, I am confident that our nation will defeat this virus. But I hear you: Our government must be responsive to the needs of the people, and I am doing my part.

Assisting Central Washingtonians who need help navigating our federal agencies is one of the most important parts of my job as a U.S. Representative. The gravity of this duty is not lost on me, especially during difficult times. This year alone, my staff and I have worked diligently to return nearly $4 million to individuals and families throughout our district and assist hundreds more with small business grants, Social Security claims, and veterans’ benefits.

In a “normal” year, I look forward to hosting events to help seniors and veterans identify resources and benefits or to connect job seekers with employers. My staff looks forward to hosting Mobile Office Hours across Central Washington to meet one-on-one and face-to-face with constituents throughout our district. Not surprisingly, the circumstances of the pandemic required us to adjust our way of doing things.

While I maintain that nothing can replace in-person interactions, I am grateful for the expansion of technology that allowed us to stay connected. Telephone town halls, conference calls, and virtual meetings provided an opportunity for me to keep in touch and continue learning how I can best represent you in Congress.

Stay-at-home orders and economic lockdowns have changed the way we live, work, learn, and even communicate with one another. Local businesses are hanging on by a thread, and individuals are struggling. My office received tens of thousands of letters, phone calls, and emails looking for help and urging Congress to act.

Unprecedented challenges warrant an unprecedented response, which is why Congress came together to pass one of the largest economic relief bills in history. The federal government enacted historic programs to deliver aid to American families, small businesses, and workers– yet we all agree that there is more to be done.

With the COVID-19 vaccine being delivered to front line workers and our most vulnerable populations, we are on our way to restoring our way of life. This is great news for Central Washington, but we are not out of the woods yet.

I am truly grateful, proud, and inspired by the resilience of our communities, and I am more motivated than ever to ensure that our region has the tools and resources we need to emerge from this public health and economic crisis even stronger than before.

Going into 2021, I am hopeful Central Washington can maintain this momentum to rebuild our economy and reopen our society – with each of us doing our part to protect our family, friends, and loved ones. I wish you all a safe and joyous New Year, and I look forward to working together to tackle this virus once and for all to restore our way of life.

Join the online forum

Discuss this article with your neighbors or join the community conversation. Powered by our sister paper, The Wenatchee World.