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JOHNSONBURG — An upcoming Elk County event will put participants in the everyday lives of low-income families, providing them with helpful resources along the way.

The Elk County Community Foundation’s Poverty Simulation Event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Johnsonburg Fire Hall on Clarion Road Aug. 13.

The event, hosted by the ECCF, Northern Tier Community Action Corporation and Community Education Center, is designed to help participants understand life within a low-income family trying to survive, said ECCF Executive Director Paula Fritz Eddy.

The ECCF, with the McKean County Community Foundation, are affiliates of the Community Foundation of the northern Alleghenies, Eddy said.

“This workshop is targeting the surrounding counties of Elk, McKean, Potter and Cameron county nonprofits, and we are encouraging elected officials, employers and educators, who may also benefit from this experience, to attend,” she said.

It was the Northern Tier Community Action Center that first presented a poverty-simulation program around 10 years ago, Eddy says.

“Organizations often apply and receive grant dollars from the Community Foundation, and we recognize that well-run nonprofits make a community a better place to live,” Eddy said.

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The simulation experience is to “sensitize” participants to the realities faced by low-income people, Eddy said.

“Understanding the day-to-day reality of poverty is important for everyone involved in fighting poverty — from policymakers to service providers,” she said.

The “Community Action Poverty Simulation” (CAPS), a unique tool that helps people experience the shortage of money and abundance of stress, will be used, Eddy said.

“During a simulation, participants role-play the lives of low-income families, including single parents, people with disabilities and senior citizens on Social Security,” she said. “The task of each family is to provide for food, shelter and other basic necessities during four 15-minute “weeks.” Families interact with community resources.”

A recent study by the United Way of Pennsylvania called ALICE — Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed — showed between 24 and 36 percent of households in the area fall within the “working poor” range, Eddy said.

“In addition, the report indicates that between 10 and 15 percent of households in our area fall below the federal poverty level,” she said.

Although the Aug. 13 event is full, Eddy said a waiting list already is in place for a 2020 poverty-simulation event. For more information, visit

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