Poverty Simulation in Luzerne County

PLAINS TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- More than 100 community leaders from Luzerne County gathered at the Woodlands near Wilkes-Barre for a social experiment.

"Poverty gets a lot of stigmas, and I think with this event, the stigmas get taken out and the realness of people and their scenarios and situations come to the forefront," said participant Jacob Claypool.

The experiment is called the "Cost of Poverty Experience."

The people here include pastors, social workers, and youth advocates. They were put into groups and given a scenario of a family living in poverty. They then had to try to get services for their family from tables set up across the room to mimic different types of services such as churches or homeless shelters.

"We really wanted as many community leaders to come together to really, truly understand what poverty means and the family that they serve, the children that they serve, really understand the barriers that come up with working with families in poverty," said organizer Mandy Chapman.

This is the first time the poverty simulation was held in Luzerne County. People who participated said they learned things that could improve social services here.

"A lot of things that we learn was that there are so many resources out there, but we're not working together. We're not networking, so that was one of the things that we were hoping to break down some of those barriers," Chapman said.

"As a community, our providers should be able to coexist in a manner that each family doesn't feel like they're being shuffled around like pawns in a chess game," said participant Rose Daniels.

Event organizers are not sure if they will bring the experiment back yet, but some of the participants want to bring it to their organizations.

"I mean, there is 120, 200 people in this room who want the same thing, and that is to help poverty and eradicate that and help people in their everyday lives," said Claypool.

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