Editorial: Senator Sinema: Thank you for investing in infrastructure. Now is the time to invest in the American people.
Chronicle of Tessa Yeomans
Three hours. That’s how long I was trapped before the paramedics found us. The driver lost control of the car on one of the dimly lit roads in my hometown of Duncan, Arizona, and there was no guardrail to keep us from falling 30 feet above the edge in a ravine.
A flight for life, a broken pelvis, two broken arms and several surgeries later, I’m alive. I am a fighter.
After months of not being able to move as my body settled back into place, I vowed that if I survived, I would go back to college. I had tried at 18, but couldn’t make it work financially. I don’t come from the money, so I was working three different jobs to support myself while going to school full time. I worked from 1 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day and slept three hours on a good night’s sleep. It just wasn’t sustainable.
But after surviving an insurmountable accident and with my husband’s encouragement, I decided to try again. My ultimate goal is to open and run a pediatric health center in my hometown of Duncan. There’s no such thing here, and the people have to drive three hours through the desert just to get to the doctor. I should know – I still frequently take these trips myself.
So I went back to college to get a degree in health service management. I took out $ 50,000 in student loans to make it happen. Things were going well for a while, and I really thought I got a second chance at the American Dream. But then the pandemic struck.
Our car detailing business slowed down, so we both chose odd jobs to get by. Then I got a call saying my college was closing after losing accreditation. I still have $ 200,000 in medical bills due to my accident. I feel stuck.
One thing that helps me is that I joined an organization called WorkMoney, which brings together ordinary Americans to fight for policies that work for workers. We need jobs that pay more and commodities that cost less, especially here in Duncan.
I am grateful that Senator Kyrsten Sinema recently voted in favor of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. In Duncan, like many rural Arizona towns, we are in desperate need of new roads and new bridges with guardrails to keep people from having terrible accidents like I did.
We also need good job opportunities. Even $ 20 more per paycheck is $ 20 more than Duncan residents can spend on a car detail, which helps our family business.
It’s what we need to survive and get our lives back on track, but it’s just a start, not a permanent solution. While I have proudly voted for former President Trump twice, I also call on Senator Sinema to support the U.S. Plan for Families. We need access to affordable education and health care in this country. You shouldn’t have to be rich to go to college. And no one should be in a bankruptcy car accident. This is not a partisan issue – it is about preserving the American dream.
Senator Sinema, you recently said that you wanted to “strengthen Arizona’s economy and help ordinary Arizona families move forward.” If you think about it, then don’t pinch the pennies. Invest in us.
Tessa Yeomans lives in Duncan and is a member of Work Money, a nonprofit advocacy group.
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