Name: Ramona Hamilton
Age: 46
Agency: Lone Star College

After days of April rain caused flooding throughout Houston, Ramona Hamilton wanted to volunteer. She chose a disaster food distribution at Lone Star College for two reasons: she was taking social work classes there, and like one third of Texas food pantry clients, she wanted to give back in the way she had once received help.

The morning of the flood, Ramona awoke early to check the weather. She happened to move her computer bag off the floor and was lucky she did—a few minutes later her floor was covered in water. Ramona’s fridge, washer and dryer, and kitchen were all damaged in the flood.

That disaster food distribution marked the first time Ramona received help at Lone Star. The community college also sponsors an ongoing farmers market operated by the Houston Food Bank.

As a full time student, Ramona is not currently working. Her husband is disabled by a degenerative muscle disease, and unable to work. The family relies on extra income from the two jobs held by Ramona’s daughter.

Getting help has been a challenge. Ramona’s husband has been denied disability benefits three times despite his condition. The family must now seek legal counsel in order to obtain benefits. “It’s a shame that people who really are disabled have to get a lawyer,” she says.

Still, Ramona remains positive that her family is headed in the right direction.

“At 43 years old, I’m going to turn my life around,” Ramona told herself when she decided to go back to school. After three years without a raise, she decided it was time for a change.

Ramona wants to work with young people when she graduates to help them see that “what you do at a young age affects you for the rest of your life.” By showing them the resources they need to succeed, she hopes to give back to a community that has helped her so much.