JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – When a person is told he or she may be losing benefits, “a breath of fresh air” doesn’t usually come to mind. However, for 49-year-old Terence Peatry he felt just that way.
Peatry is one of 75,000 Mississippians who are part of the SNAP program; it provides money for food to those in need. But that money is in jeopardy for many, including Peatry. Starting March 30, if a person doesn’t have a job or training for a job and doesn’t have any dependents, those benefits will be taken away.
“Times are getting hard. I can’t find a job. The last two years I’ve been looking for work on the Internet. I’ve been applying for application online. I couldn’t find anything,” says Peatry. He added the day he received his notification letter is was “a breath of fresh air because now I’m in school I may not need that when I’m finished,” says Peatry.
When WJTV caught up with him Monday at the Opportunity Center, a day shelter for homeless men and women, Peatry was packing up.
“I’m going to college.” Those four simple words with a big meaning. In January, Peatry enrolled at Hinds Community College for the industrial maintenance program.
“On my fourth week,” he says proudly. “It’s going good I haven’t missed a day yet. I’m learning things I’m passing my tests so it’s great.”
Peatry is moving to his dorm room. It’s a moment of pride for the center’s director Christie Burnett. She’s been working around the clock helping her clients apply for jobs. She says when those SNAP benefits stop coming nearly 80 percent of her clients will be impacted.
“We’re going to have a whole lot of folks that won’t be able to feed themselves and are going to rely on us. It’s going to make our job harder which we don’t mind,” says Burnett. “It’s going to be a “catch 22″ for our clients because getting them to find jobs or getting to better their life in the next couple of months it’s going to be a challenge,” she adds.
However Peatry wants those who find themselves in his position to know, it’s never too late. “Anybody in the same situation I’m in or similar to mine you know what better way to better yourself than to go back to school. Because we all deserve second chances everybody goes through something. We have ups and downs so what better way than to go back to school, better yourself and learn something.”