(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) On Monday morning, the St. Joseph Public Library staff were offered a glimpse into the painful realities of trying to break the cycle of poverty.
Hosted by the Community Action Partnership (CAP), participants are charged with creating a monthly budget for a family living in poverty.
"What we find is that people who work with individuals in poverty often times have a misconception of what people actually go through," said Whitney Lanning, the CAP Executive Director.
Library employee, Katey Gerard, participated in the poverty simulation Monday. She said she now has a small taste of what people in the community go through.
"It gave me a deeper empathy for people that I see on a daily basis," Gerard said.
Participants have to create a working budget on a low-income that covers rent, utilities, health care, child care, food, and transportation costs.
"During this simulation, people can feel stressed they can feel angry and they can really feel set up to fail but that's what our families who come into CAP St. Joe feel," Lanning said.
Gerard said the poverty simulations highlight how stressful and emotionally draining these decisions can be.
"I didn't know what to do," she said. "The stress I felt in just an hour, to think of that feeling over weeks and months, is very overwhelming. It was eye opening."
CAP St. Joseph provides simulations with the goal that participants leave with more empathy for people struggling to make ends meet.
"This will help people understand that this is not a lifestyle choice," Lanning said. "A lot of the time its just the absence of opportunities for individuals."
To schedule a simulation for your organization call the CAP office at (816) 233-8281.
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