Hey Boss! Do you have a minute? As the New Jersey Senate passes the mid-way point of the current legislative term, I wanted to take a minute to provide you with an update of the work I have done on your behalf. While much of the attention and headlines get devoted to the public policy part of my job (the 112 legislative proposals I have helped enact), the best part of my job is the public service –when my office helps people navigate issues facing them or their loved ones.
These stories fuel me and my team, while grounding us in the purpose of our public service mission. Here are just some examples of our success stories, and the team behind them:
Collin Smith, our Outreach Director who leads our constituent service efforts, dedicates much of his time to helping people in our district, and even those beyond our district’s borders. Collin often leads with his heart.
Case in point, Collin went above and beyond for “K,” a woman who was experiencing homelessness. With nowhere to go and no means of transportation, she didn’t think we would be able to help since it was near the close of business on a Friday. But Collin serves regardless of the time or day. He was able to secure shelter for her, personally drove her there, and even purchased groceries so he could cook several days’ worth of meals for her.
Then there was “T,” who was on the verge of losing his apartment. Collin connected him with a local social service organization, helped him prepare and provide the necessary documentation he needed, and even sat in on meetings with the agency to ensure that he would receive the funding needed to keep his apartment – it worked.
Jul Calabrese, our legislative aide and the newest member of our team, has hit the ground running and fully embraced our “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” attitude.
Jul was able to assist “V” by ensuring that her elderly mother received the accurate amount of monthly food assistance. She also helped “K,” a single mom of three children who faced a myriad of challenges from housing needs to child support. Jul worked to not only find her and her children an affordable place to live, but also connected her with other necessary social services. And then there’s “L” who needed help rectifying her correct name on her New Jersey driver’s license. Jul was able to work with the Motor Vehicle Commission to get her proper identification.
Our Policy Director, David Smith manages our policy agenda. This alone is a full-time job that he very ably manages. But like everyone else, he pitches in to help when one of our bosses has an issue.
For instance, there was “R,” a father of two children (including a baby who suffered from abstinence syndrome) whose partner was going through treatment for addiction. In desperation and tears, “R” came to our office because the family was homeless. For complicated reasons, social services denied them assistance. David helped “R” with the appeals process, and with compiling all the necessary medical documentation that he needed for both his daughter and his partner. David persisted until he found an understanding ear and after dozens of calls, they were approved for the benefits they needed.
And then there was “R,” a mom whose newborn was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disorder nearly one year after birth. She watched the baby slowly lose his ability to move, and after several months, finally got the proper diagnosis. Thankfully, with the needed treatment, the quality of life and health of the child started to improve. “R” learned that the disorder was genetic and wanted to make sure it was screened for at birth, since early detection and treatment is key. “R” learned that I sponsored a bill that would require the NJ Department of Health to screen for this disorder at birth. David began working closely with “R” to ensure its passage through four committees, and two houses, it is now law.
Our team is led by Chief of Staff, Jennifer Crea Aydjian. A jack of all trades, Jennifer keeps our team focused on our purpose, and manages all the moving parts of our legislative office – from communications, scheduling, policy, and outreach. While her title denotes her stature in our office, Jen joins in the hard work of helping people – no matter the issue.
For instance, Jen helped “K” a mom of a disabled child who struggled to pay her electric bill amidst many hospital and medical bills. Jen’s intervention kept her lights. Or, “M”, who was frustrated by multiple potholes on Route 130, Jen worked with the NJDOT to get him a smoother ride. And then there was “L,” who became homeless after an injury caused her to lose her job. She drifted between friends’ couches and her car for years before we intervened. Jen was ultimately able to help find her an affordable home to call her own.
But sometimes people come to us with their ideas of how to make others’ lives better, like “A” a young mom whose law enforcement husband committed suicide because of the trauma he experienced on the job. Jen worked with her to craft legislation (now law) that would provide emergency responders with access to counseling services.
I also want to thank Alea Couch and Kimelle Ash, two incredibly talented and hard-working teammates, who helped us along this journey before they both moved on to brighter opportunities. Proud of you both for all you did on behalf of our Seventh District bosses and I know your individual futures will be bright.
On top of all of this, we are incredibly proud of the work that we have been able to do together with YOU through our monthly “Serve with Senator Singleton” community service projects and our Citizen Advisory Panels. These activities allow us to engage directly with our bosses to make our communities stronger. I’ve learned so much through these interactions over the last three years and I am grateful for the time that so many of my neighbors have devoted to these endeavors.
Our team will continue to host the numerous community support and engagement activities from our annual Family Fun Day at Liberty Lake, backpack giveaways, elementary school reading contest/pizza party, winter coat drives, supply collections, and so much more. I have been humbled to have the privilege of serving as your Senator. No matter what events occur in my future, this will be one of the highest honors of my life and I thank you, the 225,000+ residents of Legislative District Seven, for affording me this opportunity. THANK YOU!!!
Senator Troy Singleton