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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Community learns about poverty through simulation

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Community service officials simulated "The State of Poverty" Friday and although it was only acting, many involved said the simulation is an exact replica of what's really going on.

"It's surprising how accurate this is to real life," said Clay County Chief Deputy Doug Barr.

"I have a legal obligation to hold up the law, but there's also a personal side too," he said.

Four 15-minute 'weeks' took 40 participants in family form through different tables representing different agencies. Barr, who represented the police, said he didn't have to look at his script much when speaking with the "families" because the problems are those he hears daily.

St. Vincent Clay Hospital Administrator Jerry Laue led the simulation and discussion that followed at the Brazil YMCA.

"This is one of the best discussion groups we've had," Laue said. "The dialogue was really good."

During the group discussion, participants from organizations such as the Hamilton Center, the Brazil Housing Authority and the Clay County Schools said they gained much more of an understanding of low-income families.

Tony Fears of the Brazil Housing Authority said, "I see a lot of this every day," but never could grasp why these people suffer with issues such as money, transportation and child care.

"Now I can understand why the welfare lines are so long," Fears said after the simulation.

In Juli Buchanan's 'family' she said they saw the high anxiety levels of the family's around them that in turn put much pressure on her group.

"If you don't take care of each other -- or try to -- you tend to fall," Buchanan said.

"I felt like our family was constantly trying to survive to the point where it wasn't any fun," she said.

In order to stand tall, these families have to know the services available to them, but they also have to understand how to use them, she said.

Laue said the largest roadblock for these families is the cycle that often continues for generations. A misfortune sparks another and creates a trouble for everyone. If for example, the primary money-maker loses his or her job, it sets the whole family back and that is something that can affect that family's children's children and down the road.

"It's one of those things you don't think about," he said. "A flick of a match, a disaster...think about how that inflicts people who are already stretched."

Nick French of French Funeral Home made the observation that, "The system set up to help us is probably our biggest fall."

Mitch Chalos of First Financial Bank and Trust said, "It's one of the most important things we can do in our community to understand the system."

Chalos' comments mirrored those of Laue in that sometimes problems come along that make families readjust.

"It's change your long term plans to short term realities" in some scenarios, Chalos said.

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