Staff and Volunteers participate in Poverty Simulation Training

Earlier this month, many of our staff and volunteers took part in a “Poverty Simulation Training” put on by the OSU Extension Center. Participants took on Acknowledgment roles of various family groups and had to provide for them over the course of a month, (made of 15 minute “weeks.”) As unexpected expenses added to the stress of paying for utilities and groceries, many of our families found themselves having to prioritize which bills to pay, struggling to provide the weekly groceries, or even having to seek shelter when they were unable to make the rent. The walkthrough simulation was an important reminder about how many variables can hinder a family from escaping poverty, even when helping organizations are there to assist. Child care, unexpected illness, and transportation difficulties were just some of the situations that compounded into greater frustrations and stresses as each family tried to provide for themselves.

Lorena, who works with us as a Translator in our Immigration Legal Services, said of her participation, “I felt so stressed out being a college student and having a part time job, having a 1yr old son, and not having enough money to pay for child care…”

Another staff member shared her own real life experience, saying, “I was in a very bad situation when my husband lost his job, with 3 children, 2 of them teenagers.” While she was able to get through that hard time with the help of family and friends, many clients don’t have a network of friends or families with the power to help.

MaryLynn Lufkin, Director of Eastern Oklahoma Outreach reflected on the training and said, “I took away from this activity a new realization of what our clients go through…this simulation reminded me that there are many circumstances that people who are in poverty and struggling have to deal with on a daily basis.  They have issues with not having transportation, low paying jobs, or no jobs, no family support, health issues, time constraints, not having enough money to take care of their families’ needs,  having to wait in long lines, and a host of other problems. This causes a lot of frustration, feelings of powerlessness, hopelessness, failure, stress and anger.  Many are downtrodden when they come to our Centers and campuses for help.

With all this in mind, try to show a little more love, because that might be the only bright spot in someone’s whole day.  Try to help them in a timely manner, because they probably have time constraints and need to get somewhere else to get their families’ needs taken care of.  Please treat them as if they were your own family member – and that can help us go the extra mile.  We really are blessed in our various roles, because we have opportunities every day to actually be Christ’s merciful love to those who suffer.”