Friday, June 20, 2008

Poverty simulation

On Monday, June 2, 2008, Dallas Social Venture Partners (DSVP) and Central Dallas Ministries (CDM) hosted a 2- hour Poverty Simulation at CDM’s headquarters.

In all, DSVP involved 41 participants in the simulation, each assuming the role of a family member or individual living in a low-income family trying to survive from month-to- month. The object of the simulation was to sensitize participants to the realities faced by low-income people and the choices of the working poor.

Sixteen clients and staff of Transition Resource Action Center and CDM served as staff for the resource agencies and services, such as Banker/Loan Collector, Pay Day/Quick Cash Lender, Super Center Clerk, Utility Collector, Police Officer, and Child Care Worker.

The simulation began with an introduction and briefing by Terri Walker, an educational consultant and trained facilitator from Region 10 followed by the actual simulation exercise where participants took part in four 15-minute “work weeks.” A debriefing period followed the exercise where participants and staff volunteers shared their feelings and experiences about taking part in the simulation. Below are a few comments from the experience:

“It helped me see the huge challenges many in our community face every day. The biggest problem is lack of knowledge – where to go for help, what are the rules, how do you get there, when do you get there?” – Donna Hegdahl, President, The TransSynergy Group

“This was a humbling experience that gives you an on the ground appreciation of living on the edge, pay check to pay check. We discovered, in many ways the system works against you. And, where it works in your favor, you either aren’t aware or don’t take advantage of what is offered.” – Pete Meldrum, Outcomes Coaching

“Spending two hours as a teen mother without a job or family support brought home immediately how difficult life can be to just financially and emotionally survive a month at a time….What a revealing experience. I highly encourage others to participate the next time they have the opportunity.” – Ellen Wood, DSVP Partner & Social Entrepreneur

“It is amazing how the short time frame of the Poverty Simulation allows one to vividly experience not having enough time, money, and other resources to accomplish tasks necessary to provide adequate shelter and food.” - Susan H. Morrissey, CEO & COE, Bell Janitorial Supplies & Services, Inc.

CDM thanks our good and creative partners at DSVP for their support, creative energy and commitment to cutting deeply into the poverty that presses against so many of the people we know and love in inner city Dallas. For more information about DSVP, visit

Anyone out there who has been involved in or hosted something like our poverty simulation? Let's hear from you.

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