Class learns about community needs

The class of 2018-19 learned how fast hard-earned money can disappear like candy.

The metaphor was applied literally during a poverty simulation on Community Issues Day on Oct. 3. On a class day devoted to understanding Hancock County’s safety net and the nonprofits that work to keep it in place, the class’s first exercise of the day was to figure out how to stretch a paycheck across all the needs a family encounters. Instead of money, the class members used Smarties candy, “spending” 15 pieces of candy on housing, transportation, food and other needs.

Once their budgets were tapped out, facilitator Paula Jarrett, CEO of PSJ Consulting LLC, introduced the real lesson: She told each “family” to wipe four Smarties off their grid of needs. The class members struggled to re-prioritize their spending to cover all their expenses. The result: As happens in the real world, these simulated families had to do without.

The exercise was an eye-opener for a number of class members, who haven’t suffered such struggles before.

That was the idea of the exercise and the rest of the class day, which included visits to the Hancock County Food Pantry, Hancock Hope House and the Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen. They also sat in on roundtable discussions with the CEOs of six county nonprofits who provide services to those in need.

The Landing Place in downtown Greenfield played host to the class. Jarrett and Lori Cooley of Hancock Regional Hospital were day chairs for the session.

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