Wittenberg’s First-Year Experience and Community Service Office will co-host two Community Action Poverty Simulations (CAPS), with the first session to begin at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4. Think Tank Inc., a Clark County-based non-profit organization that supports social service organizations, and Circle’s Campaign, a national anti-poverty campaign, will co-sponsor Wittenberg’s CAPS in hopes that it becomes an annual event.
The simulations, which will take place in the Gus Geil Lounge in the Benham-Pence Student Center, are headed by Assistant Provost to the First-Year Experience and Associate Professor of Philosophy, Miguel Martinez-Saenz. The events, which are open to the public, are designed to help people understand the realities of poverty through role-playing activities.
“At the beginning, we supply you with a biography,” Martinez-Saenz said. “You may be a single mother, an eight-year-old, an infant. We’ll configure your life.”
As in a real community, the roles and situations participants encounter may vary widely. The families will deal with real-life situations, including interactions with human service agencies, grocery store clerks, pawnbrokers and bill collectors. Families might range from single parent to domestic partners and from unemployed to a two-income household. Each family will experience four 15-minute “weeks” in which participants must engage in the daily duties of the person they are simulating.
“Children will attend the simulated schools,” Martinez-Saenz said. “The adults will go to work, or they might have welfare assistance.”
CAPS participants will learn about the adverse circumstances facing heads of households, including the use by impoverished families of cash advances, whereby businesses take up to 10 percent of the salary in order to cash a paycheck. In order to get a truly realistic sense of the situation, Martinez-Saenz urges the participants to fully engage their roles.
“Sometimes the participants who get to be two-year-olds will just sit quietly wherever their parents go,” Martinez-Saenz said. “Well, in reality they don’t. If a parent is waiting in the long lines at the welfare office and their child runs off. Then they have to go after them. When they come back they’ve lost their place in line.”
The second simulation is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. March 27. Registration for the program is required. Interested persons may contact Melinda Finkle via e-mail. Participation is limited to the first 50 people who register.
Written By: Christi Lue '09
Photo By: Robert Gantt
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