It is difficult for those of us who have enough to truly understand the situation that individuals and families living in poverty experience every day – the decisions they have to make and the fears and frustrations they feel. That is why Second Harvest was happy to host a Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS) this past October. Thirty-five people including donors, corporate partners, partner charity representatives, Board members and community leaders gathered to learn more deeply about the struggles of low-income families and individuals by assuming a given role and trying to work through a maze of options to get through the month.
Barry Buck, Clearview School District counselor facilitated the event. Barry is a certified CAPS facilitator and has put on CAPS programs for many years in our area. Barry is a long-time Second Harvest volunteer with the Lorain Lions Clubs, our 2017 volunteer group of the year.
The CAPS provides participants each with the opportunity to assume the role of a community member living on a limited budget. The experience is divided into four 15-minute sessions, each representing one week in which you must provide for yourself or your family and find housing or maintain your home. As one participant commented, “This poverty simulation dramatically demonstrates how much time and energy many families have to give just to survive from day to day. It quickly dispels so many myths and leads to a greater understanding.” Tom Krawiec, IT Systems Manager from PolyOne, realized “if I don’t have the stability of a car that runs or easy access to public transportation that could be a real challenge. I had to go back 10-15 times for travel vouchers and this really gave some insight into something I really take for granted and don’t normally think much about.”
Nearly 40 million Americans, 13 millions of whom are children under the age of 18, live in poverty every day. One participant explained how eye opening it was when she noticed first thing that her expenses were more than her income & there was nothing left to spend on her kids.
Many individuals have incomes above the poverty line, but their incomes are still low enough to qualify for programs like SNAP and Medicaid. Economic uncertainty and slow sustainable-living job creation for the lower class keeps the need for use of emergency food pantries at an all-time high.
By sharing this opportunity with those associated with us we are certain participants will grow in understanding and perspective for the plight of those on all sides of the system. As a community, we can then better understand the issue from different perspectives so we can come together producing a positive impact for all.