FROM YOUR STATE SENATOR
By John Velis
I hope you’re all doing well as we welcome the last month of 2021! This week we had a lot of new beginnings. On Monday we welcomed a new staff member into the office, Marissa! Marissa is a recent graduate from NYU and a long-time resident of Westfield. We are excited to have them join us in the Westfield office as our new constituent services aide!
This past Monday I filmed the first of many episodes in my new series, “From Beacon Hill to the 413,” a show I will be hosting that will air on local cable channels and online. Each episode will provide an in-depth look into what’s happening on Beacon Hill, and how it impacts you. In this first episode, Rep. Mike Finn joined me to discuss redistricting and our work on the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities. Keep an eye out on your local cable channels or head to my website to stream the show.
I spent Tuesday morning with constituents assisting in the delay of unemployment benefits. I also spoke to a constituent about the process of accessing Veteran Assistance (VA) benefits. Our office is always open and happy to help anyone who has questions regarding public services! Later on Tuesday I chaired a hearing for the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs. The hearing focused on legislation related to veterans’ benefits and their transferability. It is so important that these benefits are easily accessible to those who have earned them in service of our nation.
On Wednesday I had the privilege of joining former Rep. Aaron Vega to talk to his UMass political science class about state government and legislation currently being considered. I really enjoyed talking to the students about my path as a political official and the steps that I have taken to ensure that the people of Western Massachusetts are represented on Beacon Hill!
I began my Thursday by meeting with Agawam City Council and School Committee officials to discuss how I can support them at the state level. Later that day I also met with Holyoke’s newly elected Mayor Garcia. The mayor and I have many shared priorities for Holyoke, and I am excited to get to work alongside him in the upcoming year. These types of meetings are always very important for me, as I believe it is critical to maintain strong relationships with local officials throughout our communities. Thursday evening, I was proud to join the official ribbon cutting of Swingfield Batting Cages located on Springfield Street in Westfield. It’s always great to see the development and success of new businesses here in the district.
Finally, on Friday I joined several of my Western Mass. colleagues to tour Valley Eye Radio, the only accessible local news and information broadcasting service in the Pioneer Valley for those who can no longer read independently due to vision, medical, and physical disabilities. Valley Eye keeps listeners informed and connected to their community by working to reduce and prevent further health decline, social isolation, and depression. Over the course of the pandemic, their work has been especially critical to the welfare of the community. As the vice chair of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, I look forward to further supporting their initiatives.
As always, if there is anything I can do to assist you, please never hesitate to reach out to my office. I can be reached at [email protected] or 413-572-3920, and you can find me online at senatorjohnvelis.com.
John Velis, D-Westfield, represents Westfield, Southwick, Montgomery, Russell and all or part of seven other cities and towns in the state Senate.