Letter: Our local roots

Growing up in Accord and Woodstock, I loved hiking at Mohonk and Overlook, taking out books from the Stone Ridge Library, and going to summer camp at Camp Eagle Hill in Columbia County. When I met Antonio and found out we both grew up as Upstate kids, only an hour apart from each other, we formed an instant bond. It provided grounding and comfort to share memories of family trips to places like the Catskill Game Farm and weekends spent traveling around for basketball tournaments for Antonio and band trips or mock trial competitions for me.

Our upstate connection has been at the heart of our relationship for over a decade. It was down by the Kingston Waterfront, at the Ship to Shore restaurant, where Antonio proposed to me. We were married in 2011 at The Kaaterskill in Catskill and now we’re raising our two young boys in Rhinebeck, close to our families and childhood friends. We’ve both always wanted our children to grow up with a sense of community and appreciation for this incredible rural quality of life that we are surrounded by across every mile of Upstate New York.

After 100 days in Congress — marked by Antonio’s shuttling back and forth from our home in Rhinebeck to his work in Washington, late nights and weekends on the road for town halls — our family needed to reconnect with time away together. We had spent the last two years working so hard, with the support and dedication of so many others, to bring positive change by electing Antonio to Congress. Now, with both the campaign and first few months in Congress behind us, we set out to take some time together and share the same sort of upstate experiences that Antonio and I loved while growing up here with our own two boys.

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Two weeks ago, on spring break from both Congress and kindergarten, we packed up and headed out for a weeklong vacation across the district. From Schoharie to Sullivan, together we traversed winding roads, stopping at farms and museums, and eating at some favorite local spots. Our boys spotted over 1,000 animals along the ride — counting every one we passed. My hometown pride spiked time and again as we were warmly welcomed by small business owners and fellow residents across the district.

We watched our boys learn to make maple syrup, ride horses for the first time at SUNY Cobleskill, play with goats at the Catskill Animal Sanctuary, lace up roller skates at Skate Time 209, see the world’s largest kaleidoscope, and have lunch while riding on the Delaware & Ulster Railroad. We toured the Hanford Mills, Bethel Woods and Farmers’ Museums, dipped baseball bats at Cooperstown Bat Company and pet some friendly alpacas in Roscoe. Every night we rested at locally-owned inns and hotels in every county, all of which brought incredible creativity to their hospitality, and ate at amazing restaurants featuring farm to table cuisine. Throughout the week it was clear — the perfect place to reconnect was right here at home.

The biggest change, to which I am still adjusting, is hearing people across the district welcome Antonio as their Member of Congress. Our first priority here at home is raising our family, but we also want to give back to the community that raised us. We’ve both reaped the benefits of a good education from dedicated teachers, families that encouraged us to grow, and communities of faith that instilled values of integrity and selflessness. To be here, amongst sites I associate with my own childhood, and hear “Welcome, Representative Delgado” is more than a feeling of coming full circle, it has given me a deeper love and sense of pride for this region than I ever imagined. It is a whole new feeling of being home.

Lacey Schwartz Delgado

Rhinebeck

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