Nonprofit group hosting poverty simulation on Thursday morning

The Economic Opportunities Advancement Corporation in Waco is hosting a poverty simulation to raise awareness and education of the daily struggles that low-income families face. The simulation will be held from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 24 at the Lee Lockwood Museum.

During the simulation, participants will play the roles of low-income families ranging from single parents trying to provide for their children to senior citizens making a living from social security. Each assigned family will be required to provide basic necessities such as food and shelter while interacting with community organizations.

“It’s designed to take your everyday person and put them in the circumstance of being in poverty,” said John Key, executive director of EOAC. “This gives upper-middle class individuals a way to see what some of those in poverty have to look at.”

Participants in the simulation will be given limited resources, and they will be required to make difficult decisions such as deciding to buy your children clothes or pay for utilities and rent. The simulation also includes government agencies such as food stamps and utility assistance.

“If you’re down to a limited amount funds, what are you going to pay first?” Key said. “It’s a decision making process that those in poverty have to go through every day.”

According to the United States Census, 30.6 percent of the people in Waco live below the poverty line. In contrast, 17.6 percent of the population in Texas lives in poverty, while the official poverty rate for the United States is 14.8 percent. The federal poverty threshold is $12,316 for one person and $24,230 for a household of four.

EOAC was chartered by the State of Texas in 1966 to carry out the provisions of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, which assures that individuals have the opportunity for employment. Currently, EOAC administers six major programs including a charter school, childcare services, tenant rental assistance, community programming, a weatherization program for energy conservation and the Head Start program for children and pregnant women.

“It started as a community action to help people in neighborhoods and develop what their needs were,” Key said. “It was primarily aimed at getting people to work by providing a service so that they have time to go do that.”

Carole Meriwether, coordinator for Urban Missions at Baylor University, stated it is important for Baylor students to be involved in their community to be aware of the levels of poverty and the real issues people in Waco are facing.

“It’s really difficult to love our neighbors, if we don’t know our neighbors,” said Meriwether. “Serving in Waco provides opportunities to meet and interact with our neighbors in Waco to hear their stories.”

The regular price of admission for the event is $25, but Key is offering a waiver for Baylor students to participate at no charge. For more information and to reserve a spot contact Key at EOAC or visit their website.