A Day In The Life: Perspective on Poverty
Recently, I attended an event with the United Way called “A day in the life: Perspective on Poverty.” I was slightly hesitant on this specific event, mostly because of the fear of the unknown! When I arrived at this event they started by giving me a character to roleplay; our simulation lasted 4 weeks—each week lasted 10 minutes. Here are a few details on the family we were portraying: A wife with a Full-Time job that took care of my character who had partial paralysis, A husband who had a Full-Time job paying $8.50/hour and a 15-year-old child who was enrolled in school and had a part-time job. Then there was me: a 57-year-old disabled person living with three others.
Our main task during the 1-hour simulation: survival. We need to make sure there is food on our table each week, our bills are paid, and if we are healthy enough to work—go and get there safely. Our family was given a set dollar amount, that was hardly anything at all, a few belongings and a handful of bills to pay. We started planning out what we should tackle first. Do we eat? Do we pay our mortgage? Do we pay our car payment? What about our phones? How will our employment company reach us regarding our jobs if our phones get shut off?
As a family, we decided food was priority, that left us short on every other bill we had. We were thankful when we got our weekly paycheck, but after paying our mortgage, we had $7 dollars to our names. We still needed to pay utilities and purchase my medication. Then a note came home from school with an unexpected expense. We pawned off our beloved camera and our stereo, we did what we had to do to pay the bills. We struggled financially throughout the entire simulation. Each week we were wondering what we could do to stay above water. In the end, we managed to pay all of our bills with little money to spare.
This wasn’t just a simulation to me. This is real life. The characters we portrayed are actual people, and at this exact moment they are having these struggles. As an Industrial Staffing Consultant at Preference Employment Solutions, we see all walks of life, including situations like this. We’re here to help people find jobs, even when they’re going through hardships. We know these types of things are happening in our own backyard, and at Preference we do what we can to make the slightest difference. We started something called, “Casual for a Cause.” We contribute to a weekly fund which allows us to wear jeans on Friday’s. These funds are reserved for people who may not have gas money to get to work or for those who need it to pay a bill to keep the lights on. This is extremely rewarding for all of us here. We know it’s not big, but it is a start!