INSIGHTS | The federal stimulus means life and liberty in Colorado | Colorado Politics
It was the happiest coin toss that Toné Perez has ever lost.
He and his wife Nicole had their third child two years ago and have juggled two busy careers and a small business of seven people. “We were done,” Toné said, having kids.
One of them would see a doctor to look into it and they tossed a coin to decide. Toné lost the litter and won his life.
The visit to the doctor last August was a godsend.
“The type of cancer I had, if I hadn’t gone in, I would have expected I’d live another four years,” said Toné.
Rocky Mountain Cancer Center in Colorado Springs immediately began aggressive chemotherapy.
Toné got the news himself, a necessity and sad reality in the time of COVID-19.
“When the doctor told me I had cancer, everything flew right by me,” he said. “You’re like ‘What? What did you just say to me ‘”
It was the last time Toné had to go it alone. That’s because we’re still a nation made up mostly of good people, and the people around him are “great people,” he said.
The government gave back, but took away first.
Toné is a hairdresser who has been helping Coloradans look their best for two decades. Because of the pandemic, he had to close his pueblo store Uptown Salon in March.
It reopened in May, but with strict restrictions to ensure the safety of its customers and employees. It wasn’t easy or cheap, but Toné kept his head above water until his cancer diagnosis made waves.
His story of keeping his small business alive could be retold a million times in our country. In Washington, the people who talk so much about standing up for the people need to step up and, as the new president might say, cut the malarkey.
Since Washington is Washington, the previous federal stimulus packages have been showered with politics and gall. However, stimulation and relief are only government words for mutual despair.
“It’s been a tough six months,” said Toné.
Toné and Nicole’s three children are Tristan, a 12-year-old daughter, and two boys, 7-year-old Anthony and Kai, who, as I mentioned, are about to celebrate their second birthday. Nicole works from home at her job with a tech company that helped manage expenses and kids.
The management of the business was a whole host of other problems.
“I was freaking out. I was like, ‘Will this close my doors? Am I going to lose my business?'” Recalled Toné.
He missed the first round of paycheck protection program money but got better luck in the second round and it proved to be a lifeline for him, his family, his company, his employees and their families. The money went through a lot of hardship.
When his stylists were unemployed during the shutdown, they could receive unemployment benefits. Governor Jared Polis did his bit for families like Tonés and even passed additional government money directly to those who were unemployed last year.
“My crew, everyone qualified for unemployment and it worked, it helped people,” said Toné. “It helped pay her bills, and that was the most important thing just to be able to process your bills at home.”
He also had good landlords in Pat and Anne Henrikson.
“They said, ‘Don’t panic or anything,” Toné said, “once you start making money just catch up on your rent,” and I said, “That’s great.” That was a lifesaver right there. “
He and his wife tried to be smart about every nickel.
“We just had to borrow some money and hope that we can pay it back when things return to normal,” said Toné.
Don’t crush your palms and applaud the federal government here. Most of the money spent on protecting paychecks went not to small businesses like Tone’s but to large corporations, including national chains, the Washington Post reported.
We shouldn’t open the bank doors to those who don’t need relief. I don’t need a government check, and I hope I don’t. We could solve a lot more problems by focusing more on keeping small businesses and their workers alive, rather than putting money in every palm that needs to be greased.
Now, however, it is time to live up to our standard: “One nation under God, indivisible.”
Here is my favorite quote from Ronald Reagan: “If we love our country, we should love our compatriots too.”
Here’s my second favorite: “All great changes in America start at the dining table.”
But for the sake of clarity, you can’t do better than President Warren G. Harding. When the nation bounced back from World War I and the Spanish Flu, the 29th Presence said, “America’s present need is not heroism but healing, not nostrils but normalcy, not revolution but restoration.”
One last piece of news: I spoke to Toné on the phone on a Thursday. A PET scan the Monday before showed that he was cancer-free. He’s hoping to be back at the salon when his immune system is ready, hopefully by the end of February. He and Nicole will celebrate their anniversary in May.
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