Part 2 – The Philanthropy
After we got our full of amazing libations and food, we went to the SCANPO/TogetherSC non-profit summit in Columbia, SC.
SCANPO/TogetherSC, founded in 1997, holds a non profit summit every year in different parts of the state and we were happy to be in attendance. We are honored to serve as board members for the Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival non profit organization and we’d never been to a summit like this before. The purpose and mission of this event and organization is to “unite, strengthen, and advance our state’s nonprofit community, so we may enrich the quality of life for all.”
There were many classes that we could attend during the 3 day conference. We enjoyed hearing keynote speakers, learning about fundraising and social media in non profits; but the event that left the biggest impression was a poverty simulation.
The poverty simulation was a 2 hour exercise where participants were given a packet and had to get through “4 weeks” of life in poverty. The exercise was meant to portray real life in poverty. Participants were given a bank, grocery store, a pawn shop, social services (welfare/Foodstamps) and a place to pay bills (rent/lights/phone) and even law enforcement to interact with. Poverty is real for many people. It affects families everyday.
I portrayed the life of an 85 year old retired woman, named Eunice, who lived on a fixed income. I only received around $550 per month, and the goal was to pay all of my bills before the month was over. Of course my bills were more than $550 a month, so it was not an easy task. It was hard to stretch my money. I found myself pawning household items like my TV and camera. I also had to beg for a few payment arrangements. When I went to social services to receive some assistance, I was treated very poorly and it seemed like no one cared. For a few weeks, I stayed at home because I didn’t have money to ride the bus. I did manage to pay all of my bills by the end of the month but I was living on the BARE minimum. I couldn’t even purchase much food or my medicine.
My neighbors (the other participants in the simulation) had families, school and jobs. It was insane to see them fighting for resources among one another. There were even police in the simulation because poverty leads a lot of people to a life of crime.
I, being the child of a teen mother, already knew about poverty and trying to make ends meet on unliveable wages. It’s not as simple as some people think and this task proved it. It really touched my spirit because the people in the simulation are REAL people, going through this in REAL LIFE. Participants couldn’t believe that there are people that have to deal with this reality everyday. Some people even cried. This project should make anyone appreciate their own life and hopefully makes us think twice before judging someone.
This simulation allowed us to be immersed in the poverty experience… hopefully it has sensitized participants to be more sympathetic and empathetic to the less fortunate.
Overall, the Together SC Non profit Summit was amazing, educational, and enlightening. We were honored to be there.