On August 4th Colorado WINS members at Fitzsimons Veterans Home welcomed Representative Dafna Michealson-Jenet and Senator Rhonda Fields’ Legislative Aide, Jeremiah Ntepp to a meet and greet to discuss their experiences with the chronic underfunding of state services and the impact of the global COVID pandemic on their work.
Director Yolanda Webb, Director of the Office of Adult, Aging and Disability Services in DHS attended as well. She echoed members’ concerns about wages and the need for legislative action.
The members spoke up and shared their stories about working on critically low wages and the emotional impacts of working through a pandemic. The staff at Fitzsimons Veterans Home worked in a uniquely emotional environment.
Every employee affirmed that the veterans they work with are just like family. Working to protect them, and still seeing so many pass away in the last year took an emotional toll on them. Paired with the stress of short staffing due to low wages, all agreed that the work was unsustainable and legislative action needed to be taken to recognize the work the Fitzsimons staff, and all state employees are doing.
"The heart of long term care heroes is seen in their dedication and commitment to the residents we serve, and CDHS, and I recognize that commitment. We are committed to supporting our staff." said Director Yolanda Webb.
"We have to remember to thank our long term care workers,” said Rep. Michealson-Jenet “And we have to figure out how to get them a living wage. It's a shame that state employees don't make a living wage working full time for the state and we need to find a solution to this."
Members were encouraged by their representatives’ response.
"I felt like they actually cared about our opinion and our words. I'm excited to keep up the work and make sure that all of us at Fitzsimons Veterans' Home have what we need to do our jobs well," said Bernadette Nuanes, an administrative assistant and WINS Member.
Lashawn Williams, agreed. "Today I felt heard. For the first time in a long time, I felt heard. I am proud that I voiced what I felt and experienced and now we can work together to find a solution to the issues we face trying to serve our veterans. I am grateful that we met with legislators and our upper management today. By showing up they showed that they care and that is a step in the right direction.”
Show your solidarity with these members and their work to get sustainable wages by signing a Step It Up card today: www.coloradowins.org/step-it-up