I got my first opportunity to implement my three-point on Tuesday, February 6th.
On that day, my mom and I drove down to Salem first thing in the morning. It took us quite a while to get there, because there was a protest with a thousand trucks driving right in front of the capitol building, and this made traffic very congested. As soon as we arrived at the State Archives building, we were greeted by Mary Beth and she told us the plan for that day. She told us that we will be meeting with the Department of Housing and Community Services to learn about all that the state does for the homeless. Then we were going to Malabon Elementary School in Eugene next to share the importance of spreading our love for the homeless. Finally, we would be meeting with a Representative to know how best to influence our lawmakers to legislate laws that help the homeless. I was so excited about all the learn-love-legislate that I would get to do that day!
Meeting with the Department of Housing and Community Services:
To get to the Department of Housing and Community Services, we only had to walk a block or two, from the State Archives building, where we had parked our car. Once inside, we met with Nicole and Kenny.
They told us how they use money from the government to fund various activities that benefit the homeless. This was just perfect, because I got to learn about what these housing associations do with the money, and how they plan to help the homeless have a better life. They told me that homelessness is the most in rural areas, where there are not too many employment opportunities. I learned that homelessness becomes even more challenging for people with diabetes or other health conditions that need medicine stored in the fridge. They live out on the street through the summer heat and the winter cold and they don’t have refrigerators to store their medicine!
My visit to the Department of Housing and Community Services was very fruitful as I learned so much! They even invited me to an event on March 4th, where all the organizations that help the homeless, come together, and share their ideas about how to help the homeless. I am planning on attending the event; it means that I get to learn even more about homelessness!
Visiting Malabon Elementary School
We took leave of Kenny and Nicole and headed straight to Mary Beth’s car. She drove us to Malabon Elementary School down in Eugene. The drive was so beautiful with lush green landscape all around us!
When we arrived at the school, we checked-in and waited in the school library for the students to arrive. Once the assembly started, I got to introduce myself to the 4th and 5th graders at their school.
The students asked me a ton of questions! “What had I done so far as the Kid Governor? Is it fun being Oregon’s Kid Governor? For that question, I told them an emphatic “yes”. Of course it’s a lot of fun, the best part about it is that I get to meet many new people like all these students! One student asked me what language I teach on the weekends- he remembered it from my campaign video! I was so impressed! I taught them how to say “My name is Raaga” in Telugu language. One of the fourth grade classes there actually made paper homes and decorated them with furniture and accessories. They were all so thoughtful with their decorations!
As we were heading out of the library, where this assembly was held, I overheard someone say, “I don’t like my house”. This made me feel very sad. I was later informed that the neighborhoods around this school experience a lot of poverty, with many families on the verge of becoming homeless. Throughout the drive back up to Salem, I kept thinking about how lucky I was to have a roof over my head, and the warm food to eat every day. It made me realize the importance of being kind to the homeless, spreading our love is the least we can do!
Meeting with Rep. Helms
After we got back to Salem, we went to the Capitol for our final meeting of the day. The building is divided distinctly into the Senate side, where my inauguration ceremony took place on January 8th, and the Representatives side which is where we headed to meet Representative Ken Helms. While we were waiting, I looked around his office area – there were pictures of people with fish everywhere! Seeing an entire wall filled with pictures of fish made me laugh out loud! I also found a box of crayons and some printer paper at his office. I started drawing- a fish, of course! Soon, representative Helms’s secretary ushered us inside as Rep. Helms was ready to meet with us. When we got inside, I noticed right off the bat that Rep. Helms was wearing a fish tie! And a fish ring on his finger! He sure had an obsession for fish!
After I introduced myself to him, I asked him some questions to help with the “legislate” part of my campaign. I asked him what makes a good letter to our legislators, because I wanted to make sure that, when fifth graders write to legislators, their ideas are taken seriously. He said that the best letter one could write to the legislators is one that describes personal experiences first hand. He asked me about my three point plan. By now, I have mastered conveying my three point plan to everyone, and I had no issues explaining it to him, :). I even asked him what tips he has for me to become an effective Kid Governor. I felt happy to hear him say that I just need to continue to speak with the same confidence and passion for my platform as I had that day. It truly made me realize that, when we fifth graders care about something deeply, we CAN make the change we desire!
It was a great first day of Learn-Love-Legislate! Eagerly looking forward to many more!
What’s on the horizon?
Here’s what’s coming up next for me:
- Attend the meeting with all the homeless organizations, on March 4th, in Woodburn- Learn
- Work with the housing association and Mary Beth Herkert, put a lesson plan together to teach fifth graders about homelessness- Learn
- Work with my cabinet members and get the kindness clubs going across the state- Love
- Meeting with City of Newberg on February 20th and spread awareness about Kid Governor program and my three point plan
- Spend time with fifth graders in other schools, and motivate them to make their voices heard by writing letters to their legislators- Legislate
There is so much I am looking forward to doing! There is so much more that I want to accomplish! I can hardly wait!