NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP >> The Bucks County Opportunity Council, in partnership with Holy Family University, is offering its Poverty Simulation Program on Monday, May 21 from 9 a.m. to noon at the University’s Newtown Campus.

The training opportunity is free and open to anyone in the community who is interested in learning more about poverty in the community and how to better understand their challenges and strengths in order to best serve them.

Tammy B. Schoonover, ACSW, LSW, Director of Community Services at BCOC, will lead the workshop. Schoonover is a Bridges Out of Poverty Certified Instructor of the national program based on the work of Dr. Ruby K. Payne.

The Poverty Simulation is a nationally-recognized, formally structured activity, whereby participants role-play the lives of low income families to understand the challenges and choices they face working to provide for their family and maintain their home. Participants will interact with volunteers serving as human service agencies, grocers, pawnbrokers, bill collectors, job interviewers, police officers, and others, all while striving to get ahead. The morning ends with an exchange of ideas and a discussion of opportunities for further involvement.

The most recent U.S. Census report indicated that 40,818 people in Bucks County live at or below the federal poverty level and 9 percent of children in Bucks are poor. In Bucks County, the third wealthiest county in Pennsylvania, a living wage for a family of three is $25 per hour. Two parents, each working a full-time, minimum wage job, earn less than two-thirds of a living wage. The additional challenges of affordable housing, childcare costs, and transportation make it difficult for many Bucks County residents to make ends meet. As a result, the number of families using the Opportunity Council’s network of 60-plus food distribution sites continues to increase and requests grow for emergency assistance to meet basic needs.

For more than 50 years, the Opportunity Council has served low income families in Bucks County by helping them to stabilize when in crisis, garner resources to achieve a livable wage, gain additional education and training, and work towards economic self-sufficiency.

As the lead anti-poverty agency in the County, BCOC works diligently to create partnerships with government, other non-profits, businesses, and educational institutions to alleviate poverty. It offers community education in the form of Bridges out of Poverty Training, Morning Conversations, and Poverty Simulation events, all of which educate the community about how to improve services and outcomes for those in poverty. Recently BCOC introduced Workplace Stability Training for managers who hire and supervise minimum and low-wage workers.

The Newtown Campus of Holy Family is located at One Campus Drive, off the Newtown Bypass/PA 332. To register, go to www.bcoc.org or email Eileen Albillar, LSW at ealbillar@bcoc.org

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