Poverty Simulation at All Saints to Increase Understanding, Empathy, Action

Sep 16, 2019

Syracuse's high poverty rate is drawing creative approaches to increase understanding, action to alleviate.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News / WAER FM

All Saints Parish in Syracuse is working to help people develop a greater understanding for those living in poverty. They’re hosting the Community Action Poverty Simulation on the 21st of the month. Participants will get the chance to walk in someone else’s shoes by assigning them a role to play in a real family.


Organizer Dale Avers went through the experience as part of a single-parent family.

I played the role of a 13 year old, and my sister had a baby and was trying to get an education, and I got in trouble with the wrong crowd and the choices that that made my father have to do, while he’s trying to keep his job, my sister’s trying to get to school.

The everyday tasks of paying bills, getting kids ready to school, and getting to work for those in poverty might raise people’s empathy for the struggle. Facilitator Craig French hopes the experience makes people more tolerant of the complexities of the issues.

It’s an opportunity to give folks a chance to move from the head to the heart, so that we’re not simply debating intellectually, or philosophically, or politically how to handle this crucial social situation,  But what does it really mean to walk in someone else’s shoes.

He adds poverty creates separation and isolation. And Avers says it augments the separation between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots.’

It sucks a lot of energy out of the community, doesn’t it? Poverty requires a lot of resources. Those are resources that can’t go to really lifting up the entire community because we have to really focus on this very important group. It’s tying one hand behind us because we can’t work all together.

She notes that if people are going to act, it will be within two weeks of the simulation. All Saints Parish will provide participants information on opportunities to become involved in community organizations.