Community Action Poverty SimulationApril 1, 2012 at 10:26 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Four AmeriCorps programs came together to participate in a Community Action Poverty Simulation run by the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks in a first Cleveland-area service program collaborative event. We brought together more than 60 participants from Capuchin Franciscan Corps, City Year, Ohio College Access Network and Northeast Ohio with 21 volunteers in a joint training and learning experience.
The simulation is a unique, interactive experience designed to help participants begin to understand the struggles of individuals leaving in poverty, including the stress and lack of resource access that individuals frequently experience. The experience encouraged our Members to think about the realities of poverty and to reflect on the situation in which many of our clients face.
AmeriCorps Members were assigned a family and a role within that family, such as a child, parent or grandparent. Each family needs to keep their housing secure, keep or find employment, pay bills and feed their family. Other goals may include getting an education, seeking social service supports, cashing checks or getting transportation vouchers. Our Members quickly understood the stress, pressure and frustration of limited resources and time to accomplish necessary tasks. School spring break, agency closings for holidays and transportation struggles became realities as each family worked to maintain secure housing and income.
Two AmeriCorps Members plan how to approach their goals for the week.
An AmeriCorps Member reviews her assets and bills and makes a decision about the next agency she needs to visit.
In the final reflection poll, not all families were able to feed their families for each of the four simulation weeks. A number of families were illegally evicted, but without knowledge of landlord-tenant laws, none of the evicted families knew they had the option to seek recourse. Many individuals were enticed into participating in illegal activities to meet family needs. Lines at social service agencies, the grocery store or the general employer made it difficult to accomplish everything that needed to be done in one week.
Participants left the simulation with a new perspective of the clients they are serving. When clients are struggling to maintain housing and pay bills, it becomes even more impressive that they have come to GED class or are seeking to improve their computer skills or to apply to college. Our AmeriCorps Members left with an additional measure of compassion and excitement to serve.
In addition to the valuable lessons learned through the Poverty Simulation, AmeriCorps Members had an opportunity to meet and network with other dedicated national service participants in the Northeast Ohio region. It is encouraging and motivating to see how many individuals have committed to improving our community.
Program leaders are also energized to continue to work together to share training resources and to build a community within our service programs. This additional cross-program support, idea development and programmatic resources that will strengthen all programs involved.
AmeriCorps is getting things done…together!
To learn more about the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks Community Action Poverty Simulation visit