I hope you and your family are doing well as the corona virus pandemic continues to affect all of our lives in ways big and small. Some have experienced tremendous loss--of loved ones, of businesses, of financial security, routines, and our sense of normalcy. Others, while having to make adjustments to the flow of day-to-day life, are likely experiencing anxiety and worry but also maybe some joys that might not have otherwise come along.
When considering my own circumstances, I count myself lucky to have my two sons home who would now be away at college. My husband Phil and I are enjoying nightly family meals with them, trying to make the best of what is an otherwise bizarre and at times unnerving period.
As part of that experience, I know many throughout my district and across the Commonwealth have lost their jobs and are finding it necessary to apply for unemployment benefits for the first time. I have been helping many who are experiencing challenges accessing their benefits, so please don't hesitate to reach out if I can be of assistance as you navigate the process.
If you worked for a company (you receive a W-2) and you were laid off, furloughed, or had your hours or wages reduced:
If you are self-employed, an independent contractor, or a gig economy worker (you receive a 1099) and your source of income has been reduced, you may qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA):
If you have further questions about unemployment assistance or encounter problems in applying for benefits with the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA), contact my office at Michelle.Ciccolo@mahouse.gov or (617) 722-2210.
I also want to reiterate that while we physically distance, it is important that we not socially isolate. So, I want to reissue the challenge Lexington Select Board Member Suzie Barry proposed that is still more important that ever:
Call and check in on 10 friends, family members, and neighbors. Ask them how they're doing and if they need anything. Even though we cannot physically be together, technology allows us the next best thing.
(VIRTUAL) OFFICE HOURS
In order to help stay connected to the community, I will also be holding Virtual Office Hours next week. Please join me on Tuesday, May 5th at 11:00am for an update on the General Court's actions relative to the coronavirus crisis. I will be joined by my colleague Representative Jon Santiago, who is also an emergency room doctor at Boston Medical Center, to hear from someone who is working on the frontlines at the intersection of policy and medicine to respond to the crisis.
The office hours will be live-streamed on my facebook page. If you would like to participate in the discussion, please send an email to my Legislative Aide Mason.Heilman@mahouse.gov with the subject line "May 5th Office Hours" and provide your name, address, and a good phone number to reach you at, and he will send along the Zoom link on Monday, May 4th.
Some of my indoor plantings in anticipation of warmer days ahead!
Finally, I want to share one of the ways I am finding time to keep my spirits up. What are you doing to #GrowGoodness this spring? Let me know by email, or you can send me a note on Twitter and Facebook!
As you may know, I am an avid gardener, and I am finding that now more than ever I really need my time outside connecting with the Earth, ensuring that my family and I have ready access to fresh, healthy food.
One of the benefits of growing our own food is that almost anyone can do it, whether you have room for just a few herbs in a window or sufficient time and space for a full-sized garden in your yard. I would encourage you to check out these local nurseries that, while operating in a modified fashion to protect you and their employees, are still offering access to seeds, plants, and other supplies you might need to #GrowGoodness as we continue to social distance in order to protect our family, friends, and neighbors from COVID-19.