Walk an Hour in Their Shoes

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by Emily Rose Proctor, Director of Outreach

Caring and Sharing of South Walton

Maybe you’re like me and have been fortunate enough to have always had a roof over your head and enough money in the bank to be able to pay your utility bill AND your rent AND be able to afford your prescription.  Or maybe you’ve been helping others so long that you’ve forgotten what it’s like to be on the other side of that assistance. Or maybe you already know what’s it is like to try to survive in this area for less than $15 an hour… without sufficient affordable housing …without the option of public transportation when your car breaks down… but you long for a way to work together with others for change.

Whatever your relationship to poverty, I encourage you to consider joining Caring and Sharing of South Walton for the Cost of Poverty Experience (COPE) on January 25, 2020, from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the South Walton Boys and Girls Club (427 Greenway Trail, Santa Rosa Beach).

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The Cost of Poverty Experience is a poverty simulation role playing game that offers up to 80 participants (ages 10+) a glimpse into the lives of low-income individuals and families living in our community.  By being assigned particular family roles and interacting with community agencies, participants get a taste of the obstacles that are faced, the decisions that have to be made, and the consequences for those struggling to make ends meet.  Afterwards we will reflect together on the experience and what we can do to help under-resourced families in our area.  The event is open to the public for a suggested donation of paper goods/plasticware or a cash or check donation to “Caring and Sharing of South Walton-COT”. There are also opportunities for those connected with local service providers, churches or nonprofits to volunteer to help run the simulation. It’s a great way, on the weekend after MLK Day (and the 30A Songwriter’s festival!), to honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy of fighting poverty.

Last year approximately one hundred people attended, including quite a few from local youth groups.  One unanticipated impact was shared with me later by Brian Lowe, the Executive Director of the Children’s Volunteer Health Network.  According to Lowe, after experiencing first-hand in the simulation the transportation challenges that many of their CVHN clients face, he and his board decided to go completely mobile with their services, selling their administrative office and dental clinic in order to better provide services by going directly to their clients 100% of the time. To register as either a participant or volunteer (space is limited, so please do!) visit: https://www.awfumc.org/eventdetail/13010623.  Childcare is available upon request.

As a side note, I am so grateful to announce that the ministry of SoWal Community Chaplain, Inc, will continue as part of my new position as Director of Outreach at Caring and Sharing of South Walton!  The resources that can be found on www.sowalchaplain.org will be moving to https://caringandsharingsowal.org/, but you can continue to reach me at 850-783-0237 and emilyproctor.cot@gmail.com.

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