In Klickitat County, 15.5 percent of residents live below the Federal poverty level, according to the United States Census Bureau.
Thanks to the efforts of Heidi Venture, an independent consultant for rural non-profits, Washington Gorge Action Programs (WGAP) is teaming up with Skyline Hospital, Educational Service District (ESD) 112, Klickitat County Health Department, and Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital to bring a “Poverty Simulation” to Klickitat County.
“Poverty is complex and the experience of living in poverty is not something that can be understood very well by those of us who have never had the experience,” said Leslie Naramore, executive director for WGAP.
“Poverty Simulation” is designed to give participants a better understanding of what living in poverty is really like. The simulation has participants taking on roles of family members who all face a variety of challenging, but typical, circumstances. It is the participants’ task to provide food, shelter, and other basic necessities for their families by accessing various community resources during four, 15-minute “weeks.”
At the end of the simulation, there will be a debriefing period with trained facilitator Steve Roe.
“It can be a very frustrating process and participants should be prepared to have their biases and expectations challenged,” said Naramore.
The Poverty Simulation can be a profoundly moving experience, forcing people to think about the harsh realities of poverty faced by those in the community and how society can address the problem.
Poverty Simulations were started by a Community Action Network (CAN) in Jefferson City, Mo., in 2015. According to the Poverty Simulation website, the goal of the simulation is to “Bridge that gap from misconception to understanding. The community action poverty simulation (CAPS) is an interactive immersion experience. It sensitizes community participants to the realities of poverty. CAPS is not a game. It is based on real Community Action clients and their lives. CAPS exist to: Promote poverty awareness, increase understanding and inspire local change.”
“It is the first step to getting people and communities engaged. Our target audience with this simulation is local persons who can make a difference, whether it be people who set wages in the area, landlords, or just people who have the desire to better understand the realities that our families, neighbors, and communities face every day,” said Naramore.
The Poverty Simulation is scheduled for March 6 from 9 a.m. to noon at Grace Baptist Church in White Salmon. People who are interested in attending the Poverty Simulation should contact Nara-more at firstname.lastname@example.org
There is room for 80 participants. WGAP is also seeking 20 persons who have lived through the experience to play the role of resource providers. Childcare and lunch will be provided.