Recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show more than 16 percent of Wichita County residents live in poverty. And though it seems like a low number, it’s not just a number, it’s real people in a tough situation.
Region 9 turned into Realville, USA Tuesday. There, participants had a new family and new story, including living in poverty. From having to find child care, a new job, enrolling children in public school, to pawning off jewelery, poverty simulation participants became more familiar with what it’s like to live with little to no money.
Patrick Johnson with TXU Energy said he’s lead seminars like this before and has seen people’s eyes open up.
“It’s mostly a problem everywhere across the state,” Johnson said. “People struggle every day to pay their day to day bills. So, the great thing is there’s social services across the community that can help people with their utilities.”
Johnson said he lead a seminar like this a few years ago for a school district and was suprised to find how close it hit home.
“The kids were in school. We never believed that some of the kids doing the poverty simulation were also homeless,” Johnson said.
This year’s simulation was hosted by TXU Energy, the North Texas Area United Way and the Junior League of Wichita Falls.
“And so, the only way we can be better at serving the individuals we serve is by understanding the knowledge. So, what a better way to do that then to bring some awareness and empathy,” Junior League of Wichita Falls President Crystal Short said.
Helping get everyone through a difficult time is something Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom said is essential to happier family life.
“So often, what I see is children are living in a home and not being raised in a home,” Gossom said. “And so, they haven’t learned the normal social graces, mores, how do I communicate with people or is it just whoever’s the loudest, the meanest and the strongest gets their way? But a whole lot of people if we just gave them that hand out, they might be able to hang on,” Gossom said.
Which in turn may help go from hanging on to thriving once again.