What would it be like to live in poverty for one month?
Communities across Washington are experiencing an explosion of homelessness and are struggling to find answers. At its core, homelessness is an economic condition that prevents families or individuals from being able to afford shelter. The causes vary and the laws of marginal economics apply. A myriad of social issues contribute to homelessness and street issues including poverty, mental health care struggles, substance abuse, health care challenges, veteran’s issues and youth homelessness. Many of these causes overlap.
If we are to believe in the power of communities and organizations to help families and individuals while we equip them with support to exit poverty, we must work together to create the pathways to economic stabilization.
We invite you to join us on Friday, March 31st for a half-day interactive workshop, the Cost of Poverty Experience Simulation (COPES). Participants will be divided into small “family” teams and experience real challenges faced by people in situational or generational poverty. Past participants have reported gaining a deeper understanding of the complexity of poverty and have gone on to create changes in their own agencies, schools and public policy to address needs and opportunities. A facilitated debrief leads to concrete next steps for learning, volunteering, giving and advocating for change. This workshop is sponsored by the United Way of Snohomish County, Leadership Snohomish County, the City of Lynnwood, and is presented by Community Action of Skagit County and the Skagit Volunteer Center.
Space is limited. Registration deadline is March 28, 2017.
Time: 9 a.m.- 2 p.m.
- 8:30 a.m.: Participants check-in
- 9 a.m.-1 p.m.: Workshop
- 1:15 p.m.: Panel
- 2 p.m.: Conclusion
Audience and outcomes: The simulation is appropriate for teens through adults. Educators, social service providers, college staff and students, elected officials, business owners, health systems, and church communities have all reported benefiting from the simulation. The facilitated discussion after the workshop encourages reflection on learning at the personal, organizational and community levels. The simulation has been the launching point for community conversations and collaborations, and has spurred organizations to reduce barriers and increase opportunities for people experiencing poverty.
Why a poverty simulation? Community Action agencies across the nation are not only meant to serve low-income families, but to also change “attitudes and practices toward the poor,” as mandated by the federal Office of Economic Opportunity. The Cost of Poverty Experience Simulation (COPES), a half-day experiential workshop, is Community Action of Skagit County’s effort to create such change. Presented by the Skagit Volunteer Center, a service of Community Action, the workshop’s learning outcome of increasing empathy for the many people experiencing poverty in Skagit County. The simulation is followed by a professionally-facilitated group discussion, which includes processing for participants, and also sharing of personal stories and facts and stats about the reality of local poverty. Participants learn about the range of coalitions and initiatives working to address root causes of poverty at the policy and community level, and the services available to assist people currently in crisis. Community Action, which is also the lead agency for the countywide low income needs assessment, provides facilitated questions to lead participants to think deeply about how to move from personal awareness to changing policies, systems and practices in their own agencies, churches and businesses to reduce barriers and increase opportunities for all.