7 questions with… 409Family bloggers

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You may have noticed that a new blog has appeared for Southeast Texas.

Launched in April, 409family.com is the brainchild of JoAnna Truncalli and Danielle Sutton, two Beaumont natives who wanted to show what a great place Southeast Texas is to raise a family and enjoy community.

It all started with Sutton’s quest to build a community of friends and Truncalli’s realization that the “boring” Beaumont she always believed existed was actually just a myth.

The two stay-at-home moms, who met when their kids went to school together, greeted each other as they reflected on the teamwork they’ve cultivated over the past three months and answered our seven questions:


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A:

Danielle: I was homeschooled from seventh grade through high school. My family didn’t release a whole ton. If the church doors were open, we were there. The youth group was our social outlet.

Our house was the meeting place. So that was fine, but I wasn’t wandering around the community. And then I went to college. So I went to Lamar, then I took all my student classes, then I went to work, then I went home and I rinsed off, I rehearsed.

I didn’t have the social life that most might have. I graduated and moved to Abilene with my husband, and when I came back here and had kids, I was looking for something to do. I was like, “Oh, we’re going to rediscover everything I couldn’t do.”

Joanna: I just remember being a youngster and a teenager here. And I don’t know if it was just the hive mentality of adolescence, but the prevailing theory was that you were on a countdown until you were 18 and then the day you hit 18 , you’re gone. Didn’t feel like there was anything here for teenagers or young people or anything like that. Not that we haven’t had our share of bad press for a good reason.

We had some issues, but somewhere along the way it got cool to hate Beaumont. I loved to travel so it was really only honestly probably the COVID lockdown that we were grounded.

So it was like, “Well, what are we going to do?” I was homeschooling and if we just didn’t feel our lessons that day, we’d go to the museum or we’d go to the beach or we’d do something, but we couldn’t do any of that anymore.

And so I was really looking for things to do and the number of things I found were like, “I’ve lived here all my life but we’ve never done this.” I just started picking these things up one at a time.

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A:

Danielle: I’m the director of outreach. I am the researcher. Any master list or anything you need to know or connection, I’ll go – boots in the field.

I’m going to plan days to go around the county or Silsbee or wherever and make a day out of it and look for any family friendly stops. I want to investigate. I want to know what’s going on. I want to be part of the people who are here in the community.

People are starting to contact us. If they hear about something, they can come and tell us about it and we can point it out. It started off weird. As a stay-at-home mom, not affiliated with a company or anything, people ask you where do you work? What boards are you on? And it’s really difficult. When you hear these questions so often, it makes you feel like you’re not as important.

Rather than being defeated, I want to change the narrative: I’m a stay-at-home mom and I have a lot to offer here and people are counting on me to stand up for them, whether it’s my kids or other moms and other families, I want to speak on their behalf. I want their views to be known.

Maybe they don’t have the time I have. And that’s what I’ve been up for in the allotted time to do it. They can tell me what they’re looking for and I can get it to the right ears.

Joanna: I am the creative director. I’m pretty much the custodian of the site. So, I’m just doing basic site maintenance and stuff, posting articles, doing social media.

If she has an idea but doesn’t know how to put it online, it’s me who takes our ideas and makes them feasible, in terms of digitization and promotion.

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A:

Joanna: We both had opportunities before, but we weren’t willing to sacrifice our time with our kids, homeschooling, and all the other things to fill those positions. And so it was kind of one of those things where we knew it had to be something that fit into our lives and not the other way around.

It’s kind of in this unique position where, because it’s a family thing, taking our kids to do these things is part of our job. It is something that we can simply integrate. As long as we get our lessons, then we can go do this and that and that.

A:

Joanna: We really want to involve our older children. They are 10. What we have noticed is that there is a lack of things for older kids in elementary, middle or high school in terms of events and activities for them. It sort of fades after elementary school. And so they are almost at the age where they are getting older compared to the offerings in the area.

Danielle: There’s a big push for youth empowerment and in small towns especially, you see a lot of kids getting bored and then they get into trouble. Right? It starts with fun, pranks and good stuff, then it can get a bit more adventurous and dangerous.

Church groups have like an after school program or we have a community center in Sterling Pruitt near Magnolia and they have a youth center and everything there as well. I think they have a summer camp for the younger ones, but I don’t know if they have much further.

And so it’s things like that that we want to investigate and learn more about, and then we want to make sure that those resources are available to the community and that the community is aware.

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A:

Danielle: We generalize it to families, because if you touch families, you touch every person in the community.

It can be a nuclear family with a mother, father and children. It could be a single mother and her children. It could be a single father and his children, it could be a co-parenting situation. It can appear in all sorts of different ways. There are so many different types of families and I love it.

You can just say family, and it can mean something different to each person. And all we do is let you choose what’s best for your family; you can’t do everything. And not all recommendations are for you. But you can choose what suits you best. It’s very inclusive – grandparents, young adults in college who have a surrogate family.

Joanna: Even young single people in the area. If you’re in a group of young singles and not all of your friends are married, there’s also a sense of camaraderie, that’s how your family is and the things you do together are family. . And so we also have adult-only events. You know, the events that Pour09 does, like karaoke.

These won’t be quite right for your little one, but any adult would benefit from them. We’ve created a resource that anyone can use. It doesn’t matter what neighborhood you live in, or what you look like, or whatever – it’s for everyone.

A:

Danielle: It started with me. I’m from Beaumont, but moved to West Texas once I got married and graduated. And then I finally came back here and my husband was working here in New Orleans.

So, I was alone with my two children and my family is here, but I wanted to reconnect with old friends. But I also learned what it was like to be completely new to communities with and without children.

I know that in small towns it is more difficult to try to fit in. I am a Christian, so this is my testimony, but Blessed Moms of SETX is not a religious group. People of all different faiths, or none at all, are all welcome.

It is a place that is a safe zone and everything is welcomed with grace and kindness. And so even if you have a different opinion, you can either have a respectful conversation about it or so on as long as there’s no shame or humiliation towards another human being. I think we’re all incredibly blessed with the environment we’re building and the community we have together.

Q: What do you hope your blog can bring to the community?

A:

Danielle: It’s 409 Family, it’s not Dani and Jo. So, as our children are there, their friends are there, we meet other people’s families along the way, and they are part of it too. And so it’s just like this blob that absorbs everything as it goes.

Joanna: There seems to be all these disconnects – different parts of the community, different parts of government, different places where it’s like you don’t even talk to each other. We want to try to bridge those gaps where we can, to bring people together, because a lot of people are doing a really good job.

I haven’t really pinpointed where the disconnect is yet – whether it’s just that you need to know the right people or if Facebook isn’t showing events in a timely manner, but what if we put all the people in the same room? Put all this information in one place? You all do amazing things, but what if we all do amazing things together? It really was the heart behind it all.

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