March 29th, 2013

Alabama Possible-Alabama Poverty Project, Samford join forces to expose students to challenges of low-income families during AmeriCorps Week

Samford PS

On March 13th, 94 Samford University students participated in a Community Action Poverty Simulation. APP teamed with the Samford University Sociology Department and the Samford Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement and the Corporation for National Service to sponsor this unique experience. AmeriCorps VISTAs from APP, HICA, the Alabama Red Cross, NRSMBC Community Support Corporation volunteered to help make the event a success.

During the simulation, students experienced some of the challenges facing those living at or below poverty in the U.S.  Students had to deal with maintaining employment, caring for children or elderly family members, seeking public assistance, dealing with transportation issues, and other challenges face by people living in poor urban areas in the context of constrained financial circumstances.

For many of these students, the simulation was a powerful and worldview-changing experience, and it showed them the emotional toll and frustration that individuals living in poverty face. One student said he had a better understanding of why people use “Quik Cash and Cash-24 places,” noting that “sometimes you have to pay the bills and these places are your only option.”

The Community Action Poverty Simulation was created as a way to help students and community members understand the realities of poverty. During the simulation, participants role-play the lives of those who may have fallen on hard times. Some will be TANF recipients, some will be disabled, and some will play the role of senior citizens on Social Security. They have the stressful task of providing for basic necessities and shelter on a limited budget during the course of four, 15-minute “weeks.” They interact with human service agencies, grocers, pawnbrokers, bill collectors, job interviewers, police officers and others.

AmeriCorps Week was held March 9th to 17th as a salute to AmeriCorps members and alums for their service, thank AmeriCorps community partners, and communicate AmeriCorps’ impact on communities and on the lives of those who serve.  This year’s theme, AmeriCorps Works, reflects AmeriCorps’ triple bottom line return on investment — for the recipients of service, the people who serve, and the larger community and nation.

If you are interested in hosting a poverty simulation at your workplace or house of worship, please contact us at 205.939.1408 or email Kristina Scott.

APP AmeriCorps*VISTA, Kevi Martin acting as a service provider during the poverty simulation.

Samford PS HICA