First Methodist Church of Ardmore partners with Circle of Care and other nonprofits to host poverty simulation event

Plamedie Ifasso
The Daily Ardmoreite

Circle of Care has partnered with First Methodist Church of Ardmore, the 111 Project and CASA to provide a poverty simulation June 10 designed to help participants gain insight on living in poverty in Oklahoma. The event will be held at the Market Place on Broadway, and all interested participants are encouraged to sign up. 

The 111 Project hosts the Cost of Poverty Experience across the state. Think Tank Inc created the COPE simulation in the hopes of educating people on what poverty looks like in their area. Keith Howard, CEO of Circle of Care, said this is the organization’s first time participating in the COPE simulation. 

“Chris Campbell from the 111 Project approached us and asked if we wanted to go in partnership,” Howard said. “We have a strong relationship with First United Methodist because we’re a Methodist supported nonprofit ministry. It was just a natural fit for us as we continue to try to serve at deeper levels in the Ardmore community.”  

The COPE simulation assigns participants to a family profile such as single parent or an adult out of work, and the goal is to survive the month. The month is separated into four 15 minute weeks, and each week will include assignments to complete and bills that need to be paid. Howard said the simulation is based on real life experience and will help participants experience the lack of support and resources that those living in poverty face everyday. 

At the bare minimum, Howard said he hopes people come out of the event with a sense of empathy. 

“It’s easy, unfortunately at times, to just assume someone is not unsuccessful based on effort, or they don’t try hard enough,” Howard said. “I think this experience will create empathy that it’s not about those things. It really is not having access to the same resources, relationships and privileges that lead to some of this systematic poverty that we see in communities.” 

Howard said through the empathy gained from the simulation, participants began to see those living in poverty differently and move towards action. 

“They’ll begin to look at that person through a more empathetic lens,” Howard said. “Through that, hopefully, we move to action. Awareness and empathy leads us to our response. I think in Ardmore, there’s a lot of unique ways to be involved in that response.”