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Survive a month in poverty, in one hour’s time

By Don Ford
Special to The SUN

Sometime around 1970, Joe South wrote the words to a song that hold true today.

As more and more folks seem to be in need with help to survive in ways that include financial resources, many people have a difficult time understanding the feelings and the motivation that drives them. A lot of people just do not understand generational poverty. Many people have never had to live just below check to check. Many people have never had to, “walk a mile in their shoes.”

Joe South wrote these words: “If I could be you, if you could be me for just one hour; if we could find a way to get inside each other’s mind …”

An opportunity will be offered to “walk a mile in their shoes” Friday, March 15, at 12:30 p.m. in the commons area at Pagosa Springs High School. This “poverty simulation,” as it is called, will offer a time to be the other person who deals with generational poverty on a daily basis.

If you were an individual, person or a member of a family, with very little money, where would you go seeking food assistance, rent assistance, utility assistance and other necessities of life? Would you know how to fill out a five- to ten-page application for food assistance from the local Department of Human Services and then wait a few weeks for an interview? Where would you get food in those weeks?

If you received a disconnect notice from the local power company or were out of propane in the middle of January, what would you do?

You get the idea.

Many people are out of work in this area. Many people struggle on a day-to-day basis. Perhaps understanding their needs would help some folks understand another lifestyle. Unfortunately, “the poor will always be with us,” a quote from 2,000 years ago and still true today.

One may not agree with the lifestyle, yet unless one has “walked a mile in their shoes,” one will never know how the other feels. It would be just the same as a person in middle class could never truthfully understand how a person could just not make ends meet on $25,000 a month. (That is “only” a $300,000 yearly income.)

Understanding and education are vital components to helping folks achieve “sustainability.” Come and see if you could survive a month of living in poverty. It will only take an hour or so.

This story was posted on March 14, 2013.