Carter, Annabelle and their daughter moved from Galveston to Beaumont after Hurricane Harvey.
“After the hurricane hit, we came back to stay with my mom,” Annabelle says. “We stayed with them for a couple of months. When income tax time came, we were actually able to get some money out to get into our own place again. It’s just nice being back on our own.”
Annabelle was able to find employment at a fast food restaurant she’s worked at since she was a teenager. “I love my job,” she says. “I love my customers that come in. I got a whole group of guys that come in the morning, they know my name. If I am missing for more than two days, they are asking where we are.”
Carter is unable to work. “I do enjoy working, which is one of the bad things about not being able to work right now,” Carter says. “It’s driving me stir-crazy.”
The family lives off Annabelle’s income — $300 a week. “People think $300 is a lot of money, but it goes really fast,” Annabelle says. “Between bills, trying to pay insurance and everything else like that.”
They have SNAP benefits, but the amount doesn’t cover the healthier foods they need to buy to take care of Carter’s diabetes.
Carter was diagnosed with diabetes a little over year ago. “It really was a big surprise to everybody,” Annabelle says.
“It’s cheaper to buy junky, but the food system says to buy healthy.” Annabelle says. “And it’s better for him in the long-run — keep him with us longer.”
The food pantry helps the family stretch their budget a little farther to afford those healthier foods. “People don’t know the [food pantry] exists. It’s been here all my life. I’m local so I know everyone,” Carter says. “Assistance programs help people around here…it’s not begging. Everybody needs help sometimes.”
Carter and Annabelle help their community however they can. The family loves to cook together, and when they have leftovers, they share the food with their neighbors.
“We’ll take the leftovers…[to] my brother and his friends because he has a lot who are literally homeless stay with him. He lets anyone stay with him. We take [the leftovers] to them. It’s kinda like a little family thing. You must sit there and eat at the table — just enjoy having that actual family, little bit of bonding time — because a lot of times in this world you can have all the time in the world and you can be together all the time and still not spend any time together,” Carter says.
Carter and Annabelle have opened their home up to their community too. “We had a young girl not too long ago come stay with us for a while,” Annabelle says. “We helped her get into a job…she’s been doing pretty good for herself.”
“Being raised in a church, you get to learn to help people, but you also learn when you help you’re not looking for anything. You do it just to do it.” Carter says.
“You do it to be nice,” Annabelle agrees.