United Way hosts poverty simulation for community leaders - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

United Way hosts poverty simulation for community leaders

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United Way of Yellowstone County hosted a poverty simulation for lawmakers, local government, and community leaders in an effort to bring awareness to poverty in the county.

At United Way in Billings, participants got to experience a month in the life of someone living in poverty. Many leaders throughout the community participated in the poverty simulation, including people from Phillips 66, Riverstone Health, and Montana Rescue Mission.

Dean Wells is the impact analyst for United Way and talked about the simulation.

"It's an opportunity for participants throughout the community to really get a better idea of what it's like to live in poverty," Wells said.

People were set up in groups and given characters. Each character had a certain amount of money, their own hardships, and were told to try to climb the ladder. To help them, agencies such as Social Services, Health Care, and case workers were there.

"My character was a 19-year-old high school dropout and she had a one-year-old son and she was living with her 'live-in' boyfriend at the time," Theresa Truchot said. "She aspired to go back to school and get her GED."

Theresa Truchot is a United Way board member and a process engineer at Phillips 66 who said the poverty simulation was eye-opening.

"It was kind of heart-breaking because I felt like the character I was playing had a difficult time," Truchot said. "It was really impossible for her to have some of these goals or accomplishments that I think everyone should be entitled to."

Wells explained what the goal was for community leaders and the simulation.

"We wanted to increase understanding about people in poverty, but also that emotional basis of really understanding at the gut level what it's like to live in poverty and then take it to the next step of what is the action that we can take from that to help the issue of poverty," Wells said.

Wells said he hopes to do this simulation among other audiences at least two more times this year.

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