I hope the people of Maine will vote “yes” on Question 4 to raise the minimum wage, gradually and carefully, to a wage that helps people and their families live a decent life here.

I graduated from high school three years ago and I knew I wanted to take care of mentally disabled people as my life’s work. I love my job, working 60 hours most weeks, on 24-hour shifts, caring for two disabled adults in their home.

What bothers me is how low a wage I had to start at. And, three years later, I am still struggling. Much like other minimum wage jobs, mine is one the community talks about being very important.

Now there is a chance to show the people who take care of our family members, and who do other jobs at minimum wage in the community that are difficult and stressful, that we value what they do — enough to pay them a wage that allows them to pay their bills, afford medications and doctors’ visits, transportation to their job and maybe even to go back to school.

If Question 4 passes, it will take three years to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour and seven years for tipped workers. When that happens, one-in-three workers in Maine will be earning enough to feel respected for what they do. Plus, they will earn enough to be good customers for Maine small businesses.

Madeline Hart, Lewiston

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