United Way to host poverty simulation

BY Kaitlin Gebby - kgebby@chronicle-tribune.com


Miami County United Way is working to create a simulation of poverty so the providers of resources can better understand the needs of low income households.

According to Debi Wallick, executive director of the Miami County United Way, 43 percent of Miami County residents are struggling to make ends meet. A simulation, to Wallick, would give those who provide resources to others in need a chance to see the world through their eyes and share their struggle.

The poverty simulation is a four-hour event that divides around 40 participants into groups while volunteers explain to them their situation and offer them different scenarios. Wallick said some “families” will have one or no income, varying amounts of mouths to feed and tables to visit to pay rent and access resources. Afterward, there will be a discussion on the simulation and what participants discovered.

The last time a simulation took place in Miami County was 2009, and it gave the local United Way ideas on how they can better serve the community. She’s hopeful those participating, including volunteers with their partnering organization Miami County Systems of Care and facilitators from the Indiana Association of United Ways, can brainstorm ways they can improve their services.

In the long haul, United Way was able to help facilitate the process to develop the Miami County Resource Network, she said. The resource network is a group of organizations designed to keep track of a client’s resources accessed to avoid “duplication of service,” but the system also allows organizations assist families remotely, eliminating transportation as a barrier to assistance. 

This year, Wallick said they have roughly 33 participants already enrolled in the free simulation and are hoping to fill out the total 40 so things can run smoothly and “people can get the most out of it.”

“This is a really enriching experience for anyone, especially program providers,” she said. “Our main goal of this event is to get people moving from sympathy to empathy.”

There is no registration fee for the event, but the deadline to sign up is Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Wallick said they may be able to push the date back in order to accept more people, if necessary.

The four-hour simulator is set for Oct. 18 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Riverview Event Center, located at 421 W. Canal St. in Peru.