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United Way And Kiwanis Host A Poverty Simulation


The United Way of Lamar County and the Paris Kiwanis are partnering to host a Poverty Simulation on Friday, January 31, starting at 8:00 until 10:00 am at the Paris Junior College’s Ballroom.

 A poverty simulation is an experience designed to help participants understand what it is like to live in a typical low-income family trying to make ends meet from month to month. It is important to keep in mind that it is a simulation and not a game. The main objective of the simulation is to sensitize the participants to the realities that low-income people face.

Participants in the simulation are each given a “role” in a family unit that is facing poverty. Over the course of an hour, they go through four months of trying to make ends meet and paying all the necessities of life like food, transportation, rent, as well as unexpected expenses like medical emergencies, appliance and car breakdowns, lawyer fees, etc.  Throw in some curveballs like the loss of a job, a new baby, or an arrest and the stress of living in crisis becomes very real.

Executive Director of the United Way of Lamar County Jenny Wilson explains, “We often see a lack of understanding and empathy concerning the realities of poverty. Going through a poverty simulation can help illuminate these realities and debunk the many stereotypes about “the poor,” and nearly every person that I have talked to who has gone through the simulation is blown away by the emotions they experience. They discover that the challenges they have to face leave them frustrated, angry, nervous and stressed out.”

Wilson adds, “The purpose of the poverty simulation is to educate our community on the roadblocks and challenges that can be barriers to self-sufficiency for those living in poverty.  Generational poverty shapes behaviors and beliefs and ending the cycle is not as easy as just “get a job.”  It is our hope that their experience will motivate participants to become involved in activities that reduce poverty in our community.”

Those interested in attending the free event can rsvp by emailing  Or for more information call the United Way office at 903-784-6642.


Jenny S. Wilson

Executive Director

United Way of Lamar County