This fall, several Cabbage Patch staff members participated in the Metro United Way Poverty Simulation, in order to better understand the challenges faced by our clients. Just imagine if you tried to pawn your possessions to pay for food, only to find that the pawn shop doesn’t want them. Or consider what it would be like to pay bills if you had no Internet access. These are just a few of the scenarios that are very real for those who inspired the simulation.
During the Poverty Simulation, we were assigned roles and informed about the resources we would need to get through the month. In one group, we had a husband (Larry) with a full time job, a wife (Linda) who was unemployed, a 15 year old daughter (Erica) and a disabled father in law (Sam) who received disability checks. Transportation passes were vital, just like in real life for families without cars. The husband in this group would need five of these passes per week alone, just to get to work. The family had five to start, but if Larry went to work with them all, no one else could leave the house to pay the utility bill, or mortgage, or buy food!
We determined that Linda would need to use a transportation pass to go to the bank to cash Sam’s check, then she would go to purchase enough transportation passes to last the month. Linda took one look at the long line at the Social Services booth and decided to try to get passes at Interfaith Services instead, since she didn’t want to make Larry late for work. Interfaith Services only had limited passes and suggested she go to Social Services. So having spent two transportation passes, Linda waited in line at Social Services impatiently. When she got to the receptionist, she was informed that they had no passes. The receptionist suggested she try Interfaith Services, and reminded Linda that she would need a transportation pass.
Over the course of the remaining simulation, Larry lost his job for being late, Erica was suspended from school, the family was turned out of their home for non-payment and when they went to the homeless shelter, they found that it was full. Unable to loiter, the family wandered the room and was harassed by drug dealers. Erica began to sell drugs. Everyone agreed that they spent a lot of time waiting in lines and working hard to achieve nothing. The facilitators of the simulation reminded us that this is not a game, it is real life for many people in our community.
At The Cabbage Patch, we focus on case management to create long term solutions to difficult problems. If we can’t provide the assistance needed, we know where to refer our clients. Inability to pay rent and utilities, food insecurity and debt are just a few of the issues we tackle for the parents of children who are active in our programs. We are honored to help improve the quality of life for our Louisville neighbors.