The Social Justice Committee at Pennswood Hosts Poverty Simulation
“This welfare simulation dramatically demonstrates how much time and energy many families have to give just to survive from day to day. It quickly dispels the myth that ‘people would do fine if they would only go out and get a job!’” – past participant in a previous simulation – Pennswood Village Press Release
The social justice committee at Pennswood Village partnered with the Bucks County Opportunity Council to host a poverty simulation. The social justice committee, a wholly resident-run committee, is active within Pennswood and also in greater Bucks County. The simulation was designed to give people a better understanding of the challenges of living in poverty. Pennswood Village is a close-knit CCRC where residents come from all walks of life, and this strong social and community bond extends into the surrounding community.
“It was all new to me. It was very unsettling.” – Steve Schnur
Steve Schnur (pictured here), a Pennswood resident and first-time participant, knew he would have an emotional response to the poverty simulation, but found that he was even more deeply affected than he anticipated. He and his wife are college sweethearts from very different backgrounds that recently reconnected and married. They are enjoying their life together at Pennswood Village and taking advantage of the opportunities the different resident-led committees and groups offer them. The poverty simulation provided Steve a look into a different world than the one in which he grew up. “I never knew poverty or hunger or anything,” Steve said.
The simulation was designed to help residents understand some of the many challenges faced by families in today’s financial environment. The simulation replicated weekly financial and familial cycles, with each 15-minute block representing a week. The participants were put into family groups of varying size, from 5 to 6 people down to 1 person. The scenario for each group was different, but each group received a fixed amount of money and bills/expense to manage.
For Steve, the simulation highlighted the difficulty of living on minimum wage in today’s environment. His calculations showed that a family needs roughly $60,000 a year to survive. That means two adults making $15 an hour, which is slightly more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
The simulation’s intent was to make an impact and to educate people about this base level issue. Furthering people’s understanding can help create change for the future. Steve said, “It is better than it used to be, but it’s not fair, it’s not equal.” He also said the simulation furthered his awareness and encouraged dialogue amongst residents. The simulation increased his understanding of the bureaucracy that can be involved in poverty. Limited resources like transportation, income, food and banking all have an impact on the day-to-day life of a family’s struggle. Making ends meet coupled with the unforeseen barriers makes life an uphill battle for those struggling families.
Something for everyone
The poverty simulation is just one example of the variety of events and activities the Pennswood residents create. From art galleries to travel, gardening to fitness, there is always something happening at Pennswood.
“There’s just so much that goes on here, it’s astonishing. We are so busy managing our calendars in retirement, like I never had such a full calendar when I was working. Living at Pennswood is impactful. This is true community – no one will be alone on that scary night. I’ve never known the blessings of community like we’ve got here,” Steve said.
At Pennswood Village there are no activity coordinators; residents coordinate and lead all activities. So, there are always activities to immerse oneself in. Find out more about life at Pennswood by visiting us.