Volunteers to participate in poverty simulation

Tammy Tran

Lawrence University and CAP Services will host a Poverty Simulation in the Warch Campus Center Esch Hurvis Room Oct. 26 from 7-10 p.m.

CAP Services, the organization who will be facilitating the simulation, is an anti-poverty agency in Stevens Point, Wisc. It was founded alongside many other community action agencies around the nation during the War on Poverty. Generally, community action agencies around the country work to help low-income individuals become financially self-sufficient.

The poverty simulation that will take place at Lawrence involves between 30-86 participants who will assume the roles of up to 26 different families facing poverty. These roles include the newly employed, recently divorced, recipients of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, senior citizens receiving Social Security and grandparents raising grandchildren. The task of each family is to provide for basic necessities and shelter.

The simulation also includes an imitation of community services and resources that families can utilize. These services include a bank, super center, Community Action Agency, employer, utility company, pawnbroker, grocery, DHS office, payday and title loan facility, mortgage company, school and childcare facility.

The experience aims to sensitize participants to the realities faced by low-income people. There will also be debriefing period, where participants and volunteer staffers share their feelings and experiences and talk about what they have learned about the lives of people in poverty.

Betsy Rozelle, the project development coordinator at CAP Services, will facilitate the simulation. Rozelle has a background in human services, holding a degree in human services and professional leadership. She has worked in community foundation world overseeing grant writing for several years. “It gave me a great opportunity to get to know what the non profit agencies were doing with funds and the best way to make an impact,” she shared.

Continued Rozelle, “We have two goals. The first goal is to help people better understand and to walk in the shoes of those living in a low-income situation. But the primary goal is to inspire people to take action to make a difference by helping people in poverty.”

The idea of hosting the simulation at Lawrence came from Charles Demler, the AmeriCorps VISTA Service Learning Coordinator at the Office of Engaged Learning and Volunteer and Community Service Center. A part of Demler’s job at Lawrence is to raise awareness about poverty issues and engage people at Lawrence to tackle poverty issues. After assigned to educate himself about poverty issues in Appleton as part of his job, Demler decided Lawrence would be a great place to host CAP services.

Said Demler, “[Participants will] understand how families experience poverty and experience issues of how to pay for things. They’ll understand how incredibly hard it is to live in poverty. I hope they’ll be aware of the different issues that people in poverty face and aware of the institutions that help people in poverty. People need to realize the deep need for people to get involved in poverty issues.

“The goal,” said Rozelle, “is to empower the participants to go out and make a difference as individuals and groups. We’re hoping to instill the awareness among the participants. Its what you do with the experience that makes the difference.

Register at: http://blogs.lawrence.edu/vcsc/2011/09/poverty-stimulation.html