Just a few months before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jean was forced to put her job on hold so that she could travel to San Antonio to care for her mother. “[She] was very ill,” Jean says. “She had liver disease.” In April of 2020 her mother passed away. Jean returned to her home in Manor, but working as an in-home nurse aid was very difficult in the middle of a pandemic. With folks ill or at high risk, she could no longer work her regular hours, which cut her paycheck. She turned to the Food Bank for support.
Today, Jean works for Favor, but she says that due to inflation, business there is not doing well either. “The prices go up and people cut back on delivery,” she explains. “I understand their situation…My rent went up. Food prices went up. The price of meat is unbelievable. I cannot afford it on my income.” Because Jean is deaf, she relies on her SSDI benefits—Social Security Disability Insurance. However, in order to keep her benefits, her income is capped at $1,300 a month which supplements the $800 she receives from her disability. “If I go over [the income cap], I will lose my benefits,” Jean explains. “I’m kind of stuck.” While the cost of rent continues to increase, Jean has to find room in her fixed income to make ends meet each month. “I’m not the only one going through it,” she says. “I know I’m not the only one.”
While Jean continues to pivot to adapt to the quickly changing economy, she is also forced to grapple with her own limitations. Due to her severe arthritis, Jean struggles to do her job at times—long hours sitting in the car, lugging heavy groceries or orders, and even just getting out of bed in the morning. “I cannot do it in Austin because I cannot climb stairs,” says Jean. “My knees.” She sticks to deliveries in Elgin or Bastrop because there are fewer apartments. “It’s really limited for me, but I’m not going to give up.”
Her gratitude for the support from the Food Bank isn’t just for her alone, but also for her roommate who was previously homeless and who she’s now helping support. “I love helping people. It’s what I do.”
If you also love helping people, please consider donating today to support Jean and folks like her who are doing all they can to adapt and make do in today’s rapidly changing economy. Thanks to a generous summer match, just $1 helps create 8 meals for our neighbors in need, so every little bit goes a long way.