LIMA — Social services personnel from various agencies in the area attended a workshop Tuesday afternoon called Cost of Poverty Experience.
The workshop was presented by Goodwill Easter Seals and Think Tank, out of Springfield. The workshop simulated families or individuals and how they cope with being poverty stricken or having a low income.
“A lot of you know this, poverty is a big issue in this country and we certainly have not figured out a way to alleviate poverty or to prevent people from being in poverty and also as people that work in this field and are about to experience it, it’s really complicated. There’s not like a simple one-two punch to figure the whole thing out. And so the point of the simulation is not to provide any answers, if anything it might provide some more questions and make us think a little bit more, and that’s the real goal of it,” said Ross Cunningham, of Think Tank.
The social services people took on roles of being in poverty and tried to maneuver the complex system with problems people face on a daily basis.
“One thing that is important is to think of one of those people you have dealt with in this situation as you go through this simulation. We are going to talk about this experience afterwards,” Cunningham said. “I encourage you to get into the role you are about to take on. It makes it a much richer experience.”
Lance W. Detrick, president and CEO of Goodwill Easter Seals of Miami County, brought the COPE workshop to the Lima area specifically because of the poverty problem that plagues Lima.
“At Goodwill Easter Seals we help people with disabilities and people in poverty to live more independently and achieve a better quality of life. Poverty is a major challenge for the Lima and Allen County region. About one out of three Lima residents live at or below the poverty level. This program gives people an opportunity to experience in a very small way what it’s actually like to be in poverty. They simulate being a person who is in poverty and experience interactions with the human services system and their employer and the court system, and just get a feel for what it would be like to be in poverty for about one month,” Detrick said.
The challenge of the workshop is to better understand the problems that people who live in poverty face on a daily basis.
“Our hope would be that people that aren’t in poverty would have a much better understanding of the challenges that people in poverty face. And since about one out of three Lima residents are in poverty, there’s just a lot of people out there that could really use some help and use sort of a hand up, if you would. Hopefully after they’ve been through this experience they will understand that it’s not quite as simple as ‘just go out and get a job.’ There’s a lot of barriers and challenges they have to overcome to get out of poverty. And we’re hoping this experience will help people understand that better,” Detrick said.
Bethany Ernest with the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities attended the workshop.
“I guess I wanted to learn more about what it feels like so we can better serve the people that are in poverty: We serve a lot of people that would be within the poverty line. Unless you experience it you really have no idea,” Ernest said.
Reach Merri Hanjora at 567-242-0511.