/Navigating Mississippi’s welfare program without political connections

Navigating Mississippi’s welfare program without political connections

Bryant’s great nephew and South, both young white men from Mississippi, don’t have traditional high school diplomas. They share many things in common, except their connections. Bryant said to Mississippi Today that he believed South, his great-nephew, was exactly the type of person MDHS exists for. South recently explained to Mississippi Today that Bryant (Phil Bryant), helped Bryant’s nephew but didn’t visit the other people in the program. “You get what I am saying. He never visited any of the students who were going through the program. Why? Where is your heart? What’s your real purpose? While you want to help your nephew with the program, how much do your feelings about the people in his situation affect your ability to help him? He said that this was the minimum. South had a GED and had poor employment records. He also received food stamps and was homeless for many years during his twenties. He entered a work program through the Mississippi Department of Human Services’ federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program several years ago. South displayed a strong work ethic through the EDGE program. This acronym stands for “ethics and discipline, goals, employment” and is used to describe a person’s ability to achieve “gold” status on WorkKeys. South was even dubbed the “MVP” of his cohort by program administrators. South completed the academic portion of the program in a matter of months. This consisted of watching training videos and taking classes at Itawamba Community College. South said that veterinarian technician was the only possible career. Mississippi Today later learned that he felt pressured to choose one of a few career paths with clear education. South’s coordinator suggested that he enroll in the Mississippi State University veterinary program. South was offered a position as a volunteer at the local Humane Society animal shelter through the EDGE program. South worked in exchange for free washing kennels and on-the-job training to provide basic healthcare for animals. He also learned how to administer vaccines. With the hope that he would eventually get a job in this field. South agreed to use his aunt’s car as transportation. However, after several weeks of work and a flat tire she returned the car. South couldn’t get to work. They said, “Well, you only had one chance and you missed it. After all this, they had to let me go. South stated that this was the end of it in 2020 to Mississippi Today. South stated that he lost his car and lost his job. That was it. South said, “I know that you want a positive story, but I don’t have one for your.” “That’s what happened.” The Mississippi Department of Human Services was outsourcing more of its services to two non-profits in order to run a program called Families First for Mississippi. This was meant to help people such as South get a job and connect to basic resources. South visited Families First in north Mississippi to search for affordable housing when he was homeless. However, it did not help him. Bryant’s great-nephew was convicted of car burglary in 2019. The Families First program paid Bryant almost immediately, and the state’s highest welfare officials watched over him. South claimed that he was denied all benefits by the department after he was kicked out of the EDGE Program. South stated that he was “essentially red flagged.” South said that he was not affected by SNAP benefits despite a brochure from EDGE stating that participation in the program would not impact a client’s SNAP benefits. South said that he hasn’t spoken to the agency in over a year, except for when they call him for a survey. South is now 30 and looking for work. South is now living in a hotel after a recent eviction. South’s smiling face is still visible on the MDHS website. His story is the only one on the page titled “success”. He said, “I’m still them little pin on the Wall,” when he discovered. South wrote an essay about his experiences in the MDHS program. Mississippi Today published a portion of the essay and called it “a story about struggle”. I have very limited access to water, hygiene, and food. I am currently enrolled through EBT in a government-funded program that provides me with limited transportation, incentive pay cards (through strict compliance), work skills training courses and SNAP EBT benefits. I currently have no car, sufficient living space, smart phone or cash and am therefore unemployed. I am the living definition for plenty of limitations. This is not someone else’s fault. I was the one who put myself in this position. I can’t, will not, or am not responsible for the outcome. Although I may have been influenced to make certain choices, some were good and some were bad, overall, I am the one who made all of these choices. My choices have been made by me, even though I lost my mother young, as well as friends and family, to car accidents, overdoses, and fires. I’ve seen angels heal and demons destroy homes, while angels have helped to bring them back to life. I’ve experienced many different aspects of my life. In the last few weeks, I have come to terms with where I am now in my life and how I got there. But it could be worse. In fact, without my dad right now, I would be freezing if it weren’t. Through times of struggle, I have seen and/or experienced some of the most heartbreaking and difficult situations. Homeless, hungry and even robbed. My family and friends are most of the time in prison, poverty, and pain. Yet, this is me. I chose to smoke, drink, and be involved in bad choices, bad situations and bad influences rather than focusing my attention on the best possible options. I lost my temper, and I quit my job. Because it is what I wanted, I’m where I am today. This is the life I have chosen. Many people, including my family, offered me support and encouragement, but I ignored it. I desired what would make my life better, or at the very least help me get by. The silver lining is still shining through. With a lot of principled support, I have seen the positive concrete possibilities that exist over the last few months. Now, I am determined to pursue a solid career. As I mentioned, I am currently enrolled for training courses to become a job certified. I now realize that my life isn’t about what I want, but about what I need in order to achieve the opportunities I desire. I have established attainable goals to reach my main purpose. To establish a solid foundation and earn a modest income, I am looking for enrollment in a training course in manufacturing skills to allow me to pursue my true passion, which is to become a certified pet trainer and, eventually, a vet technician assistant. It is still an honor to live, but it is still difficult to live. My success can be attributed to me as much as my failures. I am grateful for everyone’s support. If I had to pick one piece of advice from all of this, it would be: “If it isn’t good, righteous or worthy of grace it’s probably not worth being part of your life.” Make sure that what you do is what you want to tell someone about tomorrow night.