Poverty simulation gives glimpse into life of the poor

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - 12:48pm

Beaumont (KBMT) -- In Texas alone, there are 4.4 million people living below the poverty level. In Jefferson County, that's 18- percent of the population.

Tuesday in an event sponsored by the Southeast Texas Nonprofit Development Center, 80 people took a walk in someone else's shoes. Whether it's the homeless man on the corner or the family trying desperately to make ends meet, you will see the face of poverty in every city in Southeast Texas and across the United States. Dean Terrebonne, Executive Director with the Southeast Texas Nonprofit Development Center says, "Among those 16.4 million are under the age of 18."

But you never really know what it's like until you walk in someone else's shoes which is why the center hosts the simulation. Terrebonne give instructions to the participants, "The family units you are assigned to are real life families and the situations that your families are faced with, with the resources that you have been provided are actually what these families had."

The hope is that participants get a glimpse of what life is like navigating through hardships families who live in poverty face. Kathy Durio is the founder of Stable Spirit an organization that provides equine therapy for clients of every socioeconomic background. She tells 12 News HD, "This experience of what a poverty family might have to do to try to figure out how to buy groceries, how to figure out how to get to and from work, how to make sure the kids get to school. It was just amazing of all the things you had to think about and plan for and really plan ahead for."

Organizers hope that walking for an hour in someone else's shoes will open some eyes and some hearts. Durio says that is the case for her, "I think it will make me be a little more compassionate and understanding and a bit more enthusiastic for my organization."

Participants went through a one hour scenario representing a month in the life of a person in poverty to get a glimpse into the life of someone who is struggling.

But not everyone felt empathy for the situations in which they were placed. They declined to go on camera, but they tell us they did not like the idea of giving "handouts." Every scenario was different.

There was no charge for participation in today's workshop because Entergy provided a grant for the simulation training.

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