2017-01-18 / Features

Peralta’s Constituents Services Team Handles 1,360 Cases in 2016

State Senator Jose Peralta with Lorraine Santana, one of the constituents who was helped in 2016. State Senator Jose Peralta with Lorraine Santana, one of the constituents who was helped in 2016. Lorraine Santana was facing a $150,000 fine by the New York State Workers’ Compensation Fund. She received the penalties allegedly for not having workers’ compensation insurance. Desperate, the East Elmhurst resident dropped by state Senator Jose Peralta’s office seeking assistance.

After reaching out to the State’s Workers’ Compensation Board and laying out her case, the Senator’s staff was able to solve the constituent’s problem. The board rescinded the fines a few days later.

Another constituent was upset because her daughter, a kindergarten student, was placed in a bus as part of the school transportation program with some high school students. After raising concerns about the situation with the Board of Education, the Office of Pupil Transportation took the necessary steps to transfer the child to another bus route with younger children.

These are just two of the 1,360 cases opened last year as part of Senator Peralta’s constituent services team, a jump from the 1,222 cases handled in 2015. Offering one-on-one guidance, constituent services professionals at the Senator’s office assist people in an effort to solve their problems with state agencies, and providing the proper referrals to federal and city agencies.

Approximately 20% of the cases processed during 2016 were related to housing issues, including situations in which constituents were facing evictions. General services, immigration, quality of life and public safety issues completed the top five list.

“We help constituents with problems they encounter in a wide range of issues, from immigration to quality of life, from housing to sanitation,” said Senator Peralta.

Lorraine Santana said that she had been trying to solve her problem with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Fund since 2012. “I was desperate,” said Santana. “But Senator Peralta’s office resolved my issue almost immediately. I am very happy with the service they provided.”

Peralta noted that constituents not only seek support for themselves when calling or dropping by his district office. They also inform of problems affecting the community. “I encourage my constituents all the time to contact us if they need help, but also alert us of existing problems, from safety concerns to lack of street lighting or insufficient garbage pick-ups.”

Besides constituent services, Senator Peralta also organizes annual events as part of his dedication to community involvement. Some of the most anticipated activities in 2016 were:

 Backpack Giveaway. In 2016 and in cooperation with several organizations, Senator Peralta distributed approximately 3,000 backpacks filled with school supplies to schoolchildren in the District, up from 2,100 in 2015.

 Movies in the Park. Last summer, Peralta kicked off Movies in the Park, in which hundreds of families enjoyed the screening of two free family-oriented movies under the summer stars: “Zootopia” and “Minions.”

 Job Fair at Queens Center. Fifty companies participated in the Senator’s Annual Job Fair in 2016, originally organized as a response to the recession that hit the United States after the housing market crisis. Approximately 1,000 job seekers dropped by the event.

 Thanksgiving Turkey Drive. Alongside several organizations and other elected officials, last year’s Thanksgiving Turkey Drive distributed more than 1,000 10-14 pound turkeys to families in the community, up from 500 in 2015.

 Toy Drive. As part of the initiative, in 2016 Senator Peralta and partnering organizations collected and distributed about 2,000 toys to schools, family shelters and local groups, up from 1,000 in 2015.

Other well-attended community gatherings included the Black History Month celebration, town hall meetings on public safety, a motivational speech, and a benefit concert to aid victims of the Ecuador earthquake that shook the country in April.

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