Editor’s note: Index staff writer Tyler Mask was invited to take part in Wednesday’s poverty simulation event. This is his first-person account of the event and what his group went through.
By TYLER MASK
No child growing up ever dreams of being impoverished, or at least none I knew.
In all honesty, I had it pretty good growing up in what might be considered an upper middle-class family. We never wanted for anything – except for a few additional toys that we didn’t need.
Wednesday, I and about 50 others were able to experience what poverty is like through the Community Action Poverty Simulation event that took place at Mineral Wells High School.
According to CAPS, the purpose of the simulation was to give us a small taste of what life is like on an extremely limited income.
The small taste was more than enough for me to realize just how hard a life some people live. My one hour in poverty was hectic.
To start the “month,” compressed into four 18-minute segments (weeks), individuals received their assignments. Some were paired together as married couples, some represented single-parent families and others were grandparents having to take care of their children and grandchildren. There was no particular stereotype played on.
In my scenario, I was assigned to a family of four consisting of myself and was assigned the name and age of Larry Locke, 36; my “wife,” Linda, age 36, our “daughter,” Lily; and my “father in-law,” age 57, who contributed nothing but his meager $330 disability check, of which most went to his car payment anyway.
I was the only one who worked in that family, working full-time only to make $8.50 an hour. After taxes, I brought home $1,241 a month. Our bills totaled $1,445 a month. Combined with the disability check and $210 a month in food stamps, we barely made ends meet.