By: Robin Murdoch, Reporter
A poverty role-playing scenario in Blount County helped workers to walk a mile in someone else's shoes Thursday.
"I would suggest you go back to the homeless shelter," says one of the participants.
"We are not able to help you with legal assistance."
The conversation had the so called "Miss Jolly" anything but jolly. In the poverty simulation, Miss Jolly is a single mother with two young children trying to make ends meet.
The ordeal was a role playing exercise for the Hospice Volunteer turned actress on Thursday.
"It opened my eyes a lot. It was hard," says Sarah Wimmer.
It was real life for others.
"The whole purpose of this is to encourage people to think about being in the place of poverty, in a low income family, and the day to day stress they have to go through just to survive," said Linda Hyder of the UT Extension Office.
On Thursday, the people participating in the poverty simulation at the Knoxville Airport Hilton mostly worked in community service and the healthcare industry.
They went through a variety of scenarios from paying the bills, to finding child care, to finding a place to stay when faced with eviction.
They are struggles the under served and uninsured deal with daily.
"What did you feel? What did you experience?" Hyder asked the crowd.
"Somebody who was supposed to be helping the poor was heartless and unforgiving," one woman replied. "I think that was the wounding part of the experience."
"I stole a transportation ticket. She doesn't know, I don't think," said another participant.
"Why did you do it?" Hyder asked. "You were a child."
"My mom was so helpless," the woman replied. "She needed money."
The participants learned briefly walking in someone else's shoes meant desperate decisions just to get by. It gave them new insight on a persisting poverty problem. It was a reality check.
"A lot of people in service end up getting burned out," said Good Samaritan Clinic Director Julia Pearce. "They get callused. They think oh yeah, same story, same situation. If they can step back and look at it and remember these are things they felt in the stress of the moment during the simulation, maybe we can meet that person where they are at."
The Good Samaritan Clinic hosted the event in hopes of showing the community the barriers their patients face.
August 1st marked the clinic's 10th anniversary.
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