Monday, February 11, 2013


The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Council of Los Angeles' Poverty Simulation took place at Our Mother of Good Council Catholic Church in Los Angeles, February 2, 2012.  The simulation was an emotional eye-opener for 64 attendees, mostly Vincentian volunteers desiring to better understand the poor they serve.

Participants were placed into 15 "families" and role-played dealing with banks, thieves, pawn shops, police, legal aid and others - with a minimum of time to complete transactions. By the end of the simulation seven out of the 15 "families" had been evicted from their homes.

"I really have some insight into the stress that results from trying to keep body and soul together every month," said Vincentian Carleen Zawacki.

"After we were robbed we were just desperate, " said Vincentian Shirley Coburn,  "We didn't know what to do. We didn't have any way to get our money back. We had to rush to pay the mortgage and survived. I though we were going to end up on the street."

"I really felt myself becoming physically exhausted and overwhelmed - and this was only a simulation," said Vincentian Suzanne Mingleton.

Poverty Simulation leader Afia Griffith told Vincentian volunteers they must teach the newly-impoverished to find the resources they need to survive.

Photo: Society Deputy Executive Director David Garcia, far left, runs his simulated pawn shop for Vincentian volunteers.

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