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Reality check

Dear Editor:

I just finished a short “Living in Poverty” simulation program that represented in my case a month in the life of a single mother whose husband walked out on her, leaving her with two teenage children and a monthly debt that exceeded $800. She had left school in the 10th grade and had an extremely limited work history. It immediately became apparent that, at best, all she could hope to obtain was a low paying job (assuming she could find employment). Working full time would translate to less time to nurture her already at risk children. She was forced to learn to weave her way through her new life of poverty, working 40 hours a week, visiting pawn shops, payday loan offices, and various church-sponsored and governmental social services. It was eye-opening to realize that her road in life was bleak, totally relying on public transportation, public- and church-sponsored assistance programs, and living day to day, hoping to make ends meet. I am impressed that Reverend Ford and other community members would orchestrate this outstandingly realistic program.

In Archuleta County, 14 percent of our citizens live in poverty and face similar problems 24/7. The issues that our impoverished neighbors face easily can snowball out of control; and the decisions as to how to make ends meet (fewer doctor visits, limitations on prescription drugs, cheaper and often less healthy food choices, etc.), and what items will be sacrificed (home, cars, utilities) become major consuming concerns.

I am thankful and have a new appreciation for all the concerned citizens and governmental programs that target families that find themselves in similar difficult situations. If this program is offered again, I would encourage all community members to attend and experience first hand the difficulties and hardships that are faced by those who live at or below the poverty level. I am grateful for the opportunity to have experienced this reality check, and may our community always remember the less fortunate and their needs.

Jean Strahlendorf

This story was posted on March 21, 2013.