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To the Editor:

An increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour may not seem like much if you make a lot more than that, but for me it’s a boost that will go a long way.

I make $11.18 an hour providing home healthcare for seniors. They love being able to stay in their homes instead of having to depend on other long-term healthcare options. I love seeing them happy.

That, along with the millions of dollars I save the state by caring for seniors who are able to stay in their own homes and live a full life, justifies any increase workers like me should have received a long time ago.

I often tell friends that I’d love to see a CEO or an elected official try to live a week off minimum wage or even $11.18. They’d find out real quick how much groceries really cost. That’s why I really appreciate the new governor, J.B. Pritzker, pushing the $15 minimum wage issue and the senators who voted for it.

When I get up in the morning, I travel 12 miles to care for one of my clients. I clean her house, wash her clothes, I mop and vacuum, change her bed and other tasks. The companionship I bring to her is an immeasurable benefit that often goes unnoticed by others. I do my best to giver her all the care she needs, then I travel to my next client, and then the next.

I only get so many hours a day per client, so, if I have to spend two hours taking my client to the doctor, I only have one hour to do other services. That’s not fair to me or my client.

In a week’s time, I’ve traveled 60 miles getting from one client to the other. These are miles I don’t get compensated for. I don’t get a lunch break so I pack a lunch and eat it while driving between clients. When I’m not performing home healthcare duties, I’m doing other small jobs to make ends meet.

I get so disappointed when I hear elected officials argue against raising the minimum wage, saying it would hurt small businesses. I say it will boost small businesses because every penny I get will go right back into our economy. I’m sure I speak for thousands of other low wage workers.

I want to live a life where I can come home after a physically and mentally draining job and not worry about whether I buy groceries or pay a bill. $15 is the starting point to make that happen.

Raising the minimum wage to $15 for all Illinois workers is the right thing to do. It’s the right thing to do to create jobs and boost the economy. And it’s the right thing to do right now — because Illinois can’t wait any longer for a $15 minimum wage.

I hope my state representative hears my voice when he votes on this issue.

Donna Peek

McLeansboro

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