Back to Podcasts Rep. Sylvia Garcia’s Guide to Good Constituent Services Serving in the U.S. House of Representatives involves much more than debating policy and voting on legislation on Capitol Hill. It also requires a great deal of listening to and engaging the constituents living in local districts. Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia joins this episode of “Profiles in Public Service” alongside Enrique Garcia, a constituent services representative from her district office in Houston, Texas. In 2019, Garcia became the first Hispanic member of the Houston congressional delegation and one of the first two Latinas to represent Texas in Congress. Previously, she worked in various roles in the Texas state government, and as a social worker and legal aid lawyer. Enrique and Rep. Garcia will talk about their work to increase trust in the federal government by delivering excellent customer service to their constituents and meeting the diverse needs of the communities they serve. Additional resources: Learn more about Representative Sylvia Garcia. Read more about Representative Garcia office’s involvement in getting justice for constituents Vanessa Guillén, and her family. Learn more about the I Am Vanessa Guillén Act. Representative Garcia’s Youth Advisory Council. Tune in to this episode from “Profiles in Public Service” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Follow us and subscribe to our show to receive notifications when we release a new episode. Transcript Rachel Klein-Kircher From the Partnership for Public Service, this is Profiles in Public Service—a podcast that shares the stories of the public servants who work on our behalf every day to make our country safer, healthier and more prosperous. We talk to career public servants, emerging leaders, and others to better understand what it means to be a public servant… the incredible variety of careers possible in government… and how public service impacts all our lives. I’m your host, Rachel Klein-Kircher. Darrian Frazier: And I am Darrian Frazier, Rachel’s guest host for today’s episode and an associate manager on our Government Affairs team. Rachel Klein-Kircher This season, we are bringing listeners on a journey filled with stories of both federal service and community impact. Our current series of episodes will include both public servants and those who have directly benefitted from their leadership and innovation to demonstrate what it takes for our federal government and its wide network of regional partners to effectively serve the people. Darrian Frazier: Today we will be joined by two public servants who demonstrate an incredible commitment to the individuals and communities they serve in the eastern portion of the Greater Houston area. Rachel Klein-Kircher: We are honored to have on Representative Sylvia Garcia, a member of the House of Representatives serving Texas’s 29th congressional district. In 2019, she became the first Hispanic member of the Houston congressional delegation and one of the first two Latinas to represent Texas in Congress. Previously, Representative Garcia worked in various roles in the Texas state government, and as a social worker and legal aid lawyer. Darrian Frazier: We are also excited to be joined by Enrique Garcia, a constituent services representative in Garcia’s office. Enrique is a 2019 graduate of Trinity University and a Master of Public Policy candidate at the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs. He currently serves in Representative Garcia’s regional office, which is based in the community where he spent most of his childhood. Enrique and Congresswoman Garcia will discuss their work to deliver a positive customer service to the constituents in their district, particularly its most vulnerable members, and how strong constituent services increase trust in the federal government. Let’s turn now to this wonderful conversation. Transition Music Rachel Klein-Kircher: So today we are very excited to have on our podcast Congresswoman Garcia, and we also have Enrique Garcia. Thank you both so much for being with us. Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia: Well first of all, thank you all so much for having us and I just want to clear the air, it is Enrique Garcia, but there is no relation, and we look forward to today’s discussion. Enrique Garcia: Thank you, Rachel and Darien and Congresswoman for having me. Darrian Frazier: So my first question for you, Congresswoman Garcia, looking at your path to Congress, being the first Hispanic member of the Houston Congressional Delegation, one of the first two Latinas to represent the state of Texas and really engage with the community. I’m curious what inspired you to pursue public service and work for the federal government? Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia: Well, for me it was just a progression of when I started as a social worker, I went into social work as I grew up poor in South Texas and I still remember, you know, being very sick and, and feverish and not having any doctors where I grew up. We grew up on a farm, and My daddy put me in the pickup truck and took me to the county clinic to get a shot. I remember even then as a child, about 11 years old, thinking that someday I wanted to grow up to make sure that other kids didn’t have to stand in line to get a shot. So that’s always driven me to try to help people, especially poor people, to lift them up and, and to make a difference in their lives. And it drove me to social work. Then once I started being a social worker, I decided that the better and bigger thing was to be a legal aid lawyer because then I could file suits and make changes for a bigger number of people rather than just one case at a time. So, I became a legal aid lawyer and did that for a number of years. And then I knew a mayor who said, Sylvia, how would you like to be a judge? And I went, well, I’ll get to work with a lot of people and make a lot of difference in their lives and listen to their cases. So, I became a judge and did that for about 10 years. And during that time period, I worked on a lot of campaigns and has always been about putting people first and putting people over politics for me, and about helping people, especially poor people who are the ones that have the least voice and the least representation at any level of government. So that was, to me, was a, just a natural progression. I ran for office and then one position led to the other. So, it’s always been about making a difference for working people, for families, and especially for children. Rachel Klein-Kircher: So, Congresswoman, what is an accomplishment that you are especially proud of during your time serving Texas’s 29th Congressional District, and why is that accomplishment something that’s been significant for your constituents? Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia: Well, I think the thing that’s given us the most pride in terms of even just our office is all the work that we did on the military sexual harassment around the case of Vanessa Guillén, one of my constituents that was murdered at Fort Hood. You all may have heard that story. And it’s your classic case of how constituent services should work. You know, she and her family lived in my district and the family reached out because they were having issues in talking to and understanding communication with the army to try to find her when she first went missing. And it just exemplifies that it’s always important to have good constituent services and that you follow up and return calls because that’s exactly what we did, and we got the information. The more important thing for us is that we have people that speak the language of the constituents that we represent because the mother was finally able to come to our office in a safe environment where she could tell her story and her concerns in her own language and know that a member of Congress was listening and understood and that she, there was no in between, you know, it was no interpreter, no one trying to haphazardly trying to figure out what she was saying. And it was the first time that she was able to do that because the Army would always either have an interpreter or work through her daughter. So, it was a real relief to her and again that’s why it matters that people are able to vote for someone that shares their values, that looks like them, then speaks their own language. So, the work that we did, not just in the constituency work from taking it from the investigation. Then finally when she was found and we discovered the murder, and then just all the accountability and all the things that we’ve done to make changes in the law, that, now will make a difference in the lives of so many young women, you know, across our nation when it comes to their service in the military and knowing that they have a way and they can report, harassment or sexual assault or, or any type of inappropriate behavior from anyone around them. So I think for us while, we can’t bring Vanessa back, the fact that we were here for that family and able to, to get us from them not knowing what really was going on and, and helping them insist on more investigation, insist on some accountability and the military justice system treats cases now in very, very differently as a result of the Vanessa Guillen Act. Rachel Klein-Kircher: And I recall following that story, and I can only imagine, for the family, the challenges that they had until they received support from your team. Can you give us an example of the type of challenge that your team actually faced in trying to help in this instance? Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia: Well, the biggest challenge for us was that we didn’t know anything about the military justice system. You know, I’m a lawyer, I’m a former judge, but most people don’t realize that the military has their own set of internal disciplinary rules and conduct rules, but they handle cases coming out of any of that misconduct through an entirely different structure. justice system, they do the court marshals, they’ve got their own military courts, they’ve got their own advocates. And that was a struggle for us because we were kind of thrust into this arena of, of military issues and how, I didn’t know the difference between a commander and a colonel and, just their hierarchy because it’s a totally different world. So that was the challenge for us. And, and secondly, to be able to just get them to understand our oversight role and that we were, going to stay on it and we were not going to take no for an answer. So in some ways it was a challenge, but once we got support from the secretary of the Army, our other colleagues, and they saw the groundswell of support from members of congress through the Armed Services Committee we got their attention and that’s why we were able to really ensure that there was a robust investigation and that she was just found and then we insisted on an full investigation of that, and then they finally had to admit there was foul play. So, you know, we took it step by step and it probably spanned over almost two years of the work that we did. But again, that is an example of why who you elect really matters. Rachel Klein-Kircher: Absolutely. And what a personal stamp to put on Congress that I don’t know that our listeners always think about. Darrian, over to you for your next question. Darrian Frazier: I’m so happy that we have Enrique on the call because Enrique, you’re serving as a constituent service lead and you have direct engagement with these constituents, and that’s so impactful. And something that the Partnership really elevates is that direct engagement, that building trust. And I’m curious given what Congresswoman Garcia had just shared, could you just share from your perspective about the impact that Congresswoman Garcia’s work has had on your office’s ability to serve your constituents? Enrique Garcia: Yes, certainly Darrian, thank you so much for bringing that up. During the 117th Congress, Congresswoman Garcia actually helped pave the way to cap insulin at $35 and provide and ensure that there’s a no cost to two very important Part D vaccinations such as Tetanus and shingles to individuals covered under Part B of Medicare. That was tremendously important because we had constituents contact our office and tell us exactly how much of a lifeboat that was for them. These are individuals who live on a fixed monthly income. They can’t necessarily take control of their health and also make ends meet at the same time. Enrique Garcia: And so to know that because of Congresswoman’s hard work in D.C., they’re now actually able to take control of their health, make sure that they’re well taken care of. And it is very important because these are individuals that deserve respect, deserve to be heard, and we make it a high priority in our office to ensure that their case is related to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, whichever issue that they may have even Veterans Affairs for Our seniors who had served in the military. We make sure that their cases are followed through to the end. And that is said for every constituent because in our office, every constituent matters. There is no issue too little or too small. We are not here to discriminate. We are not here to inquire about legal status. We are here to listen and mediate and hopefully, bring forward that concern in the way that the constituent relayed it to us, to the federal agency, to ensure that the federal agency can actually look into what is concerning our constituent and hopefully bring about a better resolve. We can’t always ensure that there is a positive result for our constituents, but we can at least make sure that their voices are heard and to make sure that whatever is decided through their case, we can provide it in a language and in an atmosphere in which it is compassionate and understandable. Darrian Frazier: Thanks, Enrique. And one thing that you just said that really stuck out to me is, every constituent matters. Really showing that relationship. And I’m curious if there’s a memorable experience or story you would like to share that demonstrates the impact that you have seen on a person or a group in your community because of Congresswoman Garcia’s leadership. Enrique Garcia: This particular story really did touch my heart because it spanned about four and a half months. This was an individual who, thankfully because of our office’s outreach and because of the constituent services, casework pop-up clinics that occurred throughout the district in November and December of last year, this individual learned about our office was able to come to us and explain that he had been experiencing a lot of issues with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services since filing his petition in 2018 for lawful permanent residence here in the United States. Essentially since 2018, he has been unable to travel outside of the country. Because of the fear that happens for a lot of applicants that you apply and you’re afraid that if you travel outside of the country and you return, am I going to be allowed to come back into the country? Am I legally able to do so? Sometimes you might have a special permission to do so, but there’s still that fear because you’re not, you’re not a citizen. So, it leaves a lot of discrepancies, and it leaves a lot of confusion. And recently he was told by his family that his father, who lives in Brazil, had been admitted into hospice care because he was starting to succumb to his medical condition. So, he was pleading to us, please give me a response because I really want to go say goodbye to my dad. I want my dad to know my kids. And our office filed an inquiry to USCIS, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. They provided a response that they would look into the issue. Our office pleaded for expedited processing because if there is a medical emergency, you can tell them that. Which is why it is so important that we get every information from a constituent so that we know their story, so that we can properly relay what is going on in their lives to the agency and let them know that these are people that are suffering. These are people that need a result. And thankfully, and this gives, and this one gave me hope within a month. USCIS approved this case, and he emailed me so gratefully that he had received his green card in the mail and it was like Christmas for him because he was so happy, sad, because he knows his father is dying. But he was so happy that he was actually now able to go visit his dad. Now, approximately two months later, he contacted our office yet again to help with his children’s passport applications. Again, this is during a time in which the State Department was experiencing a high level of passport applications and with the workforce that they were not necessarily well equipped to deal with that high volume of applications. But thankfully, because of our connections with the State Department and how they allow us a system to properly communicate with the agencies where every constituent’s passport applications are being processed. We were able to contact not just a general facility, but the actual facility where their passport applications were being processed. We were able to speak to someone, relay the situation at hand, and plead with them to please have it done before their date of travel. Thankfully, we were notified within a week that their passports were delivered, and the constituent did not have to make any form of changes to his travel plans. He was officially ready, green light ready, set, go to travel to Brazil to go say goodbye to his dad and introduce him to his kids. And it’s a story that really gets you going because we sometimes don’t see a win in this office because we’re a life preserve or we’re the last resort for constituents. And to see this means a lot. It means that our work and listening to constituents, it goes above and beyond. Darrian Frazier: Enrique, thank you so much. What an impactful story. There are so many good things that I heard in there. The intergovernmental collaboration, the willingness to go above and meet people where they are. Also, the relevance of not just serving quote unquote, “the American people”, but all people within our country and in your district. So, thank you. I’ll pass it to you, Rachel. Rachel Klein-Kircher: Enrique in all of the work that you do and you’re working in the district office in Texas, is there anything that has surprised you in your interactions with Congresswoman Garcia or her team in D.C.? Enrique Garcia: I always knew that Congresswoman was a very strong advocate for her community, particularly senior citizens and the Latino community. However, upon meeting her, I didn’t realize how much of a down to earth person that she actually is. I mean, this is a person who during a very stressful time for all of us here in the office, she took time to come to me and ask me, are you and your family doing well after we had personally experienced a very stressful situation while traveling abroad. And that is something that meant a lot to me because, we work together and we’re professional together, but we also know each other. We understand each other, and that is not something that you see everywhere. And I’m very grateful to be a part of this team because of that, because of her. Rachel Klein-Kircher: I hear it in your voice. I really do. Also, the way you tell your stories about helping your constituents; this is really what it’s all about. It sounds like you have also an office culture that’s, you know, you’re talking the talk, walking the walk. What do you think is important for people to know about the reach of the federal government to make an impact for individuals and communities across the country? You know, you’ve mentioned social security, you’ve mentioned Veterans Affairs, Medicare, Medicaid, State Department, passport. Of all of these different services, what do you want people to come away knowing? Enrique Garcia: What our office really hopes and what I really hope is that one of the strongest tenants of the federal government is promoting political participation at every level, not just federal government, but at every level of government because it’s what makes us distinctly American that we can actually participate in our governmental system. Of the wonderful ways that our office does that is through the Youth Advisory Council where we allow a diverse group of kids to become leaders in their communities, learn how to properly serve, not just become participants because they see an issue in their community, and therefore they want to serve. They serve now because there is an interest, because it is important to do so. It is something that should be ingrained in all of us and to know that they’re doing so at a young age. It’s inspiring because it gives a lot of us also a drive to continue forward because we can always learn to do more, and they can learn how to bring about a better life, not just for themselves, but also the communities in which they might themselves actually lead in the future. Rachel Klein-Kircher: I love that personally for me, taking the youth and meeting them where they are and paying attention, number one, and also just opening their worlds to things that otherwise they wouldn’t know is possible. I really do think that changes trajectories, so I love that you pay attention to that as well. Thank you. Darrian Frazier: Congresswoman Garcia hearing all of this really great work your team is doing, how does it make you feel when you hear and see the impact you are having as described by Enrique? Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia: Well, I think it’s exactly what we should be doing. It is about being here to serve the public, and we take every letter, every phone call and every what I call, a push aside. I’m in events and people stop me, and I go to church and people stop me and ask me for something, and I’ll write it down and I give it to the staff, they follow up. But I think probably one of the more satisfying things, we’re able to put money in their pocket. This last year alone, we were able to secure, $2.7 million in back benefits, whether they were VA or Social Security, or Social Security Disability and just to see the smile in people’s faces and how happy they are because they’ve been struggling trying to maneuver a system that is so foreign to them. But we assisted, and they got this big back check and, Enrique you may remember one, that was a big one. I think it was like in the couple of thousands, the guy thought we were the greatest thing on the earth. I mean, they’re just so happy. And it’s good that we’re here because otherwise, it’s not really just about the back benefits, it’s about being able to be eligible because then they can get their VA benefits. They can get more resources at the VA hospital for so many things. If it’s someone on social security, it’s about continuing that monthly payment. It’s about a way to keep their families together, a way for them to have food on the table, a roof over their heads. So those are very satisfying and especially the ones that even for us, they’re tough cases, but we succeeded. So, it’s a victory for the staff, but it’s a huge victory for the families involved and the team does casework like that all the time. And sometimes it may be just writing a letter or showing up at a town hall meeting on an important issue. We had one just last week on an issue on transportation, and it’s a local matter, but it involves federal funds. So, people usually think of just Social Security, Medicare, and the benefits, but it’s federal dollars are involved in so many aspects in our lives, so we can help assist and people will pay attention because they know that it’s Congress and the money’s coming from Congress. We have an oversight role, so they do respond. So, we can help and assist folks with a lot of different issues. Darrian Frazier: And with that, and you spoke a little bit about this when you said, you’ll have interactions with constituents, and you’ll make a note of that and pass that on to staff. With all of the efforts being done, how would you describe the collaboration required with your district office, in order for you to succeed in the goals and effectively delivering to constituents? Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia: Well, it’s a team effort and collaboration, not just between me and the staff, but the two different staffs Washington and here in the, the district because there is a lot of times that, that we get a lot of calls in Washington that then have to be referred here and vice versa. But it takes sometimes both of us working together to resolve an issue. For example, the, the town hall that we just mentioned, yes, it may be the district staff that’s putting the town hall together, but it’s a policy issue. It’s about federal funding for infrastructure projects. They will do the research on the dollars involved in that particular project, which bucket of the government did the money come from, and what are the requirements, what is the money supposed to be used for? Because, for me, to be able to do what I need to do in terms of my oversight and ensure that those dollars get to my community, I need to know that. So, it takes both of us working together and sometimes it includes other levels of government. I may have need to have to reach out to a council member or a state senator, about collaborating on any one of these issues. Because our geography overlaps and we establish a good working relationship with all the local officials and state officials in our district. Darrian Frazier: That’s so helpful to hear, and I know that a lot of the work being described today, Enrique helping a constituent, ensuring that he gets back to see his family in a tough life situation. Putting money back into taxpayer dollars. I love that. How do you go about building greater trust in government with your district and from your communities across the country? Because I can see where a lot of these tough life instances that you’re being met with, constituents require a great deal of trust and relationship building. I’ve always subscribed ever since I was a judge to what I call being “hip”. Being a public servant with honesty, integrity, and professionalism hip. And I think as long as you do that and you demonstrate that to everyone that you work with, it creates a certain level of trust. Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia: And then the second thing, I think, that’s very important is to make sure that people know what the government is doing. In other words, we make sure that people know that we bring in the 2.7 million. Either we’ll tweet it, we’ll email it, we’ll let people know that this is the government working for you. We write letters, you know, we just passed an infrastructure bill. This means we’re going to be able to fund projects in Houston like telephone road in your neighborhood, and we’ll outline it, because if we don’t show them that the government is really doing something for them, their family and their neighborhood, then it’s all foreign and that’s what builds the distrust. So, we try to communicate constantly by the in-person town halls. We do tele-town halls. We do Facebook ads, we robocall, we email, we write letters, we send newsletters. We’re always trying to communicate what we’re doing so that people know that their government is working for them. And that’s what builds trust because if they never hear from you and all they get is the notice that the IRS Income tax return is due on Monday. They’re like, well, where’s my money going to? So, it’s up to us to demonstrate that we’re doing that. And I always consider myself a part of the current administration. President Biden has done a lot of work, probably more work in two years than some presidents have in their entire four years, that’s been good for people, and I consider myself as a member of Congress a satellite office of the federal government. It may be a different level, and we have the power of the purse and the power of oversight, and we need to make sure that that people know our individual roles, but that we’re working together. Rachel Klein-Kircher: Congresswoman, you’ve had so many different experiences throughout your public service journey. Why might you suggest someone pursue a career in public service? Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia: Well, because I think if you’re interested in helping people, this is a perfect way of doing it. And public service is more than just a job. It’s a calling. It does take, in my view, a special person to really enjoy working for people and work at problem solving, and listening, being patient, and giving back to the community because that’s what public service is all about. I don’t equate public service to politicians. Those are very two different things. And you can be a part of public service at any level of government in a variety of ways and it’s something separate and apart from running for office and being a politician, Rachel Klein-Kircher: Is there a piece of advice that you would like to relay that you received early in your career or something that you wish you had known back then? Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia: The only advice that I got, especially when I started thinking about my first social work job, because my first degree is in social work, is that somebody said you have to like being with people and you have to be a good listener and you have be able to put yourself in their shoes. If you can’t do that, then you’re not going to be a good social worker. I would almost say the same thing about a public servant. Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia: Because it could be very satisfying to just make a phone call for someone that gets the door opened for them to go in to tell their story to someone, and that’s satisfying. You know, you’re not putting money in their pocket. You’re not changing the world entirely, but you’re opening a door for them. And a lot of what we do, especially with the work that we do with other local governments, they may call about a pothole, but they’ve called their council member five times and haven’t gone through. But if they get a call from us and say, you really need to talk to Abigail, she called you three times last week, and they’ll go, okay, fine and they’ll get the call. So, all you did was open the door, but they think you performed a miracle because finally somebody listened to them. So, a lot of the job is just patience and listening and following up. Rachel Klein-Kircher: And clearly from Enrique, we were also hearing that theme about listening and empathy and being there for people. So, Enrique, from your perspective, why might you suggest someone pursue a career in public service? And is there that nugget of advice that you either received or wished that you had been told early on? Enrique Garcia: Essentially, if you are willing to be open-minded and actually interested in listening to what people have to say, and like Congresswoman said, put yourself into their shoes, then public service is a wonderful career path to undertake, especially if you wish to service your community. If you ever think to yourself, how can I give back to my community? And if you’re willing to listen, then yes, become a person like, like Congresswoman Garcia, like myself, like the many others who work for a government agency or for a member of Congress. It really puts into perspective what exactly is going on, not just in my community, or in my city, or in my state, but in the nation itself. What are people feeling? What direction are we actually going to take in the next five years? These are all very important topics to know as we learn to grow and progress together. Something that I remember, very fondly, of a professor of mine who I was shouting potential career paths, as she told me, “You love to explore the world, but you also like to be empathetic. Consider a job in the public service, but you need to be more open-minded. You do not need to close yourself off. Stop building walls. Learn to listen to other people, learn to put yourself in their shoes and see what you can do as a productive individual to make sure that they are being accounted for.” Rachel Klein-Kircher: And not everyone has that professor who will so profoundly share advice like that. So for those listening who may be considering either they’re earlier in their career and they want to pursue public service, or they’re midway and they want to switch careers. Enrique, what would you say is a good first step for somebody to how to even go about it? Enrique Garcia: A good first way is always public involvement. Go be a part of your civic association club or join a like-minded political advocacy group. Try to get in, try to see if dealing with other people is something that you’re comfortable doing, because it’s not something that is always very appealing for another person to go out into the community, get to know people that they’ve never met before. But if you get out there, you put your foot in the door and you open yourself to potential situations or conversations may come about because of you doing so, then it could arise into a potential career in public service. Rachel Klein-Kircher: I love that. See if it’s something you’re comfortable doing. So, before we part ways, Congresswoman Garcia, anything else that you would like to share that we haven’t asked or that’s top of mind for you? Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia: Well, you haven’t asked what’s the downside? And you know, I tell my friends, they ask me that sometimes because I’ve been in public service since, well, I think I became a judge back in ’86. The only time that it does bother me is when you know, like I’m rushing into the grocery store to pick up something really quick, but somebody recognizes you and stops you and delays you from doing what you want to do, you know? And they look at you like, oh, you’re here. And it’s like, yes, I have to eat too. So you are out there in the public and with that comes some responsibilities and one of them is to be responsive all the time and, and you’ve got to. So, I’m always ready. Rachel Klein-Kircher: I think you really summed that up very well because earlier in this conversation you did mention people stopping you at church and you had more of a sense of pride and joy and now, you’re also sharing, and sometimes you know it’s part of what one must deal with. But in a way that you’re also embracing, this is the role that I have chosen and I’m here for people wherever they may happen to find me. So, we just appreciate everything that you and your team and Enrique are doing. It’s incredible. And also, for sharing your time today, Darrian and I Thank you so much. Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia: Thank you so much. Take care. Rachel Klein-Kircher: Darrian, I’m so glad that you joined me in this conversation with Congresswoman Garcia and Enrique. You work with the Hill on a day-to-day basis, and I do not, and I have to tell you, I was so struck listening to each of them. It almost didn’t matter which one was speaking at the moment in terms of getting that clear sense of care for people, care for the constituents. Whether you’re sitting in an office in DC or you’re in your district office in Texas, they were so united as one team to just to help and serve people. And this isn’t always what we see in the news about Congress. So, for you, is this something that stands out? Is this normal? It’s, it was wonderful for me. Darrian Frazier: Yeah, thanks Rachel. I think it, it was equally wonderful for me, I think often in my job day to day, working with folks on the Hill, we’re so often talking about the policy, the legislation and how to improve the services government has for the constituents. But to be able to hear personal lived experiences from Enrique, personal experiences from Congresswoman Garcia, it was also refreshing for me as well, to hear their passion. Garcia had mentioned being “hip” demonstrating honesty, integrity, professionalism. I thought that was genius and really a testament to how public servants act and should act. Rachel Klein-Kircher: And when she talked about that honesty, integrity, professionalism, and wanting to really ensure that people know what the government is doing for them. And that’s a theme that we hear from the other branches of government, right? Like who is it that is helping bridges to be built? Or who is bringing arts to the communities? How much the government is actually involved with things, and the everyday person may not realize that. So, it was interesting to hear that from the Congressional as well. Darrian Frazier: 100%. The also, what I found really one of my favorites was, talking so much about the policy and the processes within federal government with these representatives and constituent services workers, it’s rare that I actually get to hear the real impact that they’re having. Enrique mentioned the experience with his constituent that was trying to get the ability to go over to see his dad and, that very stressful situation with his father and being able to make just an impactful difference and really connect on a human level, I think is something that should be prioritized for a lot of these members and their staff. So, it was really good to hear just kind of those experiences that happen and really seeing that real life impact. Rachel Klein-Kircher: Right. It isn’t the C-SPAN grandstanding of things. This is, like you said, helping someone to get home to see a dying parent, or as the Congresswoman shared, the tragic story from Fort Hood, and she really explained the detail of how her office was able to help because dealing with the military system, is so very different. You know, even she herself as a former judge wouldn’t know, the same rules and processes and to have her office help for whatever need the person has on the other end of the phone, I can’t recall which one of them had said, we’re the place of last resort and people can call for any reason. Any reason whatsoever. As she said, no is not an option. Saying no is not an option. We are going to help. Darrian Frazier: Yeah, and helping them in a meaningful, and I think human way, as well. One of the things that were said from Enrique when he was having his hardships and the Congresswoman reached out to him, I think that spoke to, for me at least, that these people are also human and they’re going through lives and their stresses. Darrian Frazier: Congressman Garcia mentioned, navigating church and the grocery store and just speaks to how I think resilient these folks can be in public service, and is truly inspiring in that sense of how they help other individuals, in their districts and those around them. Rachel Klein-Kircher: And what was inspiring for me was when, you know, we asked them about public service, and I think it was Enrique who said, you know, promoting political participation at every level of government is distinctly American. It’s like, yeah, this is a privilege that we have, and some say a responsibility a that we have. Rachel Klein-Kircher: And for me that was very poignant to hear that. So, Darrian, once again, I’m so glad that you were with me on this ride, on this conversation. I loved having this human voice to what our Congress is and what it can be, and I’m just very hopeful after this conversation that we had. So, thank you so much. Darrian Frazier: Thank you for having me. Transition Music Abigail Alpern Fisch: So that’s our show, thanks so much for listening! If you haven’t already, please follow or subscribe to “Profiles in Public Service” wherever you get your podcasts. You can also check this episode’s show notes to learn more about today’s topic, and be sure to follow the Partnership for Public Service on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram to find out about future episodes! “Profiles in Public Service” is created by the Partnership for Public Service. I’m, Abigail Alpern Fisch, our writer and producer for today’s episode Our script supervisor is Barry Goldberg. And our executive producer is Jordan LaPier. See you next time!