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Poverty is too real in Pagosa

An article in this week’s SUN announces a “poverty simulation” scheduled for Friday, March 15, and solicits participants and facilitators.

According to Pastor Don Ford of Community United Methodist Church, the simulation is the second to be held here. As many as 50 people experienced the virtual realities of poverty at the initial simulation several months ago.

The poverty simulation is designed to help participants better understand the impact of poverty — here and elsewhere. Participants at the first simulation included staff members from local human service agencies, town and county employees and a number of community leaders.

The program emphasizes the daily realities for those who live in poverty, with the aim of sending participants back to the community with increased awareness and a commitment to deal with a pressing situation in Pagosa Country.

In the simulation, participants play the roles of members of low-income families. Some play assistance recipients, some are disabled and others enact the roles of senior citizens on Social Security. They are given the task of providing the basics of life during four, virtual weeks. They interact with human services agencies, grocers, pawnbrokers, bill collectors, job interviewers, police officers and others.

They learn about the struggle that too many of their neighbors endure, in a too-real world.

Ford has long been one of the community’s champions for those whose lives are burdened by the stresses of poverty — Pagosans who struggle to put food on the table, pay the rent and medical bills, and face legal difficulties. He, with others in local government agencies, faith-based organizations and local charitable groups, work hard to assist people in need, without the bias that often colors discourse about neighbors who live under the poverty line. We hear far too much arrogant talk about “takers” and “parasites” from savants who fail to empathize with those who battle poverty on a daily basis. They do nothing to deal with the problem.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the official federal poverty line in 2012 was an annual income of up to $23,050 for a family of four. The 2010 Census Bureau report stated that 8.5 percent of the population of Archuleta County, 1,032 people, were living in poverty. Other sources indicate that rate could be as high as 12.5 percent. The Colorado Children’s Campaign released a statistic showing that 53.5 percent of Archuleta County’s children qualified for free or reduced priced lunches in 2012, with 4.8 percent of children in the county receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families in 2010. In 2010, the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food and nutrition program served 260 local women, and children up to age 5, who were at nutritional risk. In May of 2012, 527 households in the county accepted food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. In 2010, the number of county residents ages 5-17 living in families in poverty was 21.8 percent, the highest percentage for that group since 1989. Each of these numbers is an indicator of how many people are in need here.

Thankfully, there are Pagosans who understand that poverty and its stresses can affect just about anyone — that most people trying to deal with this problem work or are eager to work. For those who sit in their easy chairs and spout nonsense about “takers” a dose of simulation might be good medicine for their disease.

Poverty and the demands of a paycheck-to-paycheck life are no simulation for a great many Pagosans and efforts like Ford’s can provide more of the area’s privileged residents an understanding of a situation that must be remedied.

Karl Isberg

This story was posted on February 28, 2013.
  • Sean McMullen

    YOU can thank your town hall,for tossing out 500 million,in building projects,THE NOBAMA MENTALITY,will ruin our country,from one town to the next,.PEOPLE NEED JOBS,NOT A OBSTRUCTIVE GOVERNMENT MACHINE,BOTH IN YOUR TOWN AND THE WHITE HOUSE.OH YEAH 90 BILLION DOWN THE TUBES IN GREEN PROJECTS,FOR TALIBAMA,HOW MANY JOBS COULD HAVE THAT PROVIDED,IF IT WAS A REAL INDUSTRY.HAND UP NOT HANDOUTS WORK.GOD BLESS ALL MY FRIENDS THERE,THAT THEY HAVE FOOD,AND ENOUGH WORK,AND I AM SORRY I COULD NOT PUT MORE PEOPLE TOO WORK,ON PROJECTS DUE TOO OBSTRUCTIVE,CLUELESS TOWN HALL PEOPLE.

    • Brian Griffin

      Give it a rest, McMullen. Go rant somewhere else. You really think the town turned away $500 million in projects? Bwahahahaha! However, you’re the type of lunatic any government should and would hesitate to invite to the table.

    • Stewie Griffen

      DUDE!!!! WHAT’S WITH ALL THE FOKCING CAPS!!!!

    • sean

      let see,what happens,when you have a chef as a town planner,a mayor that is a section 8 lord,and a town manager,applying everywhere,he can,oh yeah that is pagosa,let us count the half billion,you lefties,want to ignore,bootjacks projects,100 million,blue sky ranch,25 million,piano creek,100 million,rio blanco huge evil 1%,project,125 million,and numerous others.open your eyes,and except it,developers create jobs ,work,not the food stamp,poverty town this is turning into.a government that strangles growth is no good,what is what the attacks,and english lessons.wake up you more than likely voted for obama and have no clue.welcome to your new dictatorship,we will tell you what we want.good luck with that walmart thing,surprise,surprise,kick out quality developers,and welcome china,wait too see what downtown looks like,when wally comes to town,maybe you can be a greeter.cheers sean

      • Brian griffin

        Since you can barely construct a coherent sentence, I can just imagine the quality of your construction projects. Beat it, chump.

      • sean

        mr brian, you are a horse’s ass,and more than likely a screaming liberal blind too the facts,I am a builder,developer,not a english teacher,loser,good luck with your town,and obama,because more than likely you have a poster of obama,and aragon, above your bed.what do you do?what have you done?more than likely just use the system for every dime and ski,or bike all day. and smoke weed all day,and play on your computer,you are a first class wanker.

        • Brian Griffin

          Well, Sean, I do work full time and (fortunately) have not been unlucky enough to have to “use the system.” The difference between you and me is – I take responsibility for my own work performance, actions, etc. and you just blame “the left” for your own shortcomings and misfortune. Perhaps you should make better plans, perfect your skills and become a little more educated. No, wait, it’s easier to blame everyone else, isn’t it?

          • sean

            YES BRIAN,a short list of all the other developers,that had architect drawn plans and design’s.DAVID BROWN,who i worked for on his main home#1,BLUE SKY RANCH,PIANO CREEK,RIO BLANCO RANCH,I blame only the town,for direct loss,of again 500 million,go look it up,oh yeah my church still stands,I do not have to explain jack to you,but hookup fees,and impact fees,for creating jobs is wrong.May i ask what you do?I am educated also,but do not like computers,by the way my plans were done at a cost of 12,000 dollars,just to correct your shortcomings.HOW do you explain all the other projects walking,you should educate yourself,on your town,and most people’s work ethic in your town.I saved a historic treasure,ST ANDREWS MISSION,that would have crumbled to the ground if not saved,cheers!

  • ajpagosa

    Why not have another simulation, except one that the “poverty” cases can also participate in? That one would involve living in a cardboard box in places like the slums of Haiti infected with AIDS and no medical treatment, and various war torn parts of Africa and maybe a big city slum in India. It would also involve lots of starvation, dysentery, malaria, violence, etc.

    “Poverty” in the US is a joke, and mainly a way to qualify for extravagant welfare support. Oh and to buy votes. In addition to the income levels you quote above you need to add all forms of assistance at the state federal and local levels. Food stamps, housing, etc. free medical care (show up at an ER they have to treat you, thank you for wrecking the system BTW). Where else but the USA can you live in poverty and be obese, have a cell phone, a car, a color TV, and oh yeah, live in a mountain resort town like Pagosa Springs. Maybe you think the poor deserve season passes at WC too?

    When you add it up “poor” folks are doing pretty well here, and all at the expense of taxpayers. It is tiresome to hear the same old liberal lies being foisted on us by our own local newspaper.

  • Peggy Andrews

    Many people have fallen into poverty for reasons way beyond their control – job loss, accident, illness, and for many other reasons. I encourage everyone to attend this simulation to broaden their perspective on this tragedy playing out across America. The simulation has no political basis, and is intended to bring awareness of the daily struggle of those less fortunate who have not made poverty a lifestyle choice.