Kickoff to Yuma's "Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week"

Kickoff to Yuma's "Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week"

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YUMA – Dozens of people in the desert southwest got a taste of what it's like to do with less. a "Community Action Poverty Simulation" event took place at Arizona Western College this afternoon from one o'clock to four-thirty. It kicks off "Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week."

There's nothing like walking a mile in another person's shoes to appreciate the road they walk day after day. That was the idea behind today's Community Action Poverty Simulation.

Alma Clark is a volunteer coordinator for Hospice Compassus.

"It's to give people a better understanding of what it's like to go through that are low income. The struggles that they have, the difficulties they have and what it's like to live a month in poverty," says Clark.

Today's simulation only lasted 3-and-a-half hours, but they simulated a month.

"There's so many obstacles, transportation, getting their families fed, making choices whether they go to work or they take care of a sick child at home," said Clark.

And here's another catch, people didn't come as a low-income versions of themselves. They were assigned a whole new identity and set of circumstances when they arrived.

"You can be an elderly person, you can be a person with a family. You can be a teenager with struggles, so you're given a role and then you're given a description of your household. How many people are in it, ages, income that's coming in to the household and most importantly, the bills you are to pay," explains Clark.

Haley Todd assumed the role of a 52-year-old man named Warren Westcott.

"So you're like, oh, I gotta adjust this. I'm 52 and my paper said I got disability which kinda helps the situation," said Todd.

But the simulation also saddled her with kids, one of whom had been expelled from school.

Tables were set up around the conference room. Volunteers acted as banks, schools and stores. And many times, they didn't play fair.

Many of them took advantage of the low-income participants, and didn't tell them until after the exercise was over.

Good lessons learned to avoid real cheating practices in the real world. Good lessons to share with those living on low incomes.

Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week continues tomorrow and lasts through November 18th.

A Hunger and Homelessness Conference will be held at the American Legion at 2575 South Virginia Drive in Yuma from 8 o'clock in the morning until noon. An Information and Social Services Expo will take place at the Crossroads Missions between 3 o'clock and 6 o'clock in the afternoon. The address is 944 South Arizona Avenue.

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