CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — On Wednesday, Mission 911 held their annual poverty simulation at First United Methodist Church.
People taking part are put in a family, given a role and are put in real life situations to see how hard it is to transition out of poverty.
"The struggles are real," Tony Reyes said, founder and CEO of Mission 911.
The poverty simulation is a learning experience putting these people in positions they’ve never imagined before. Erika Martinez and Amanda Valdez were both placed in very different experiences.
“I am the father-in-law who has some health issues, I’m currently on disability. I have a car (which) is on loan,” Martinez said.
“I’m a stay at home mother. I have one daughter that is 15 that goes to school. But then, I also take care of my father-in-law,” Valdez said.
Not everyone was placed in a family. Some were in the roles that help these families, like in social services or a pawn shop.
Reyes hopes this simulation gives people more compassion for those struggling.
“People need to understand that they’re one step away from loosing everything," he said. "If you loose your job, you loose your house, you loose your car, it’s just a domino effect and the chaos starts.”
The families had tasks like looking for ways to get money to feed their kids, or look for a job and then find a way to get to work, plus many more scenarios that weren’t easy.
“It opens my eyes to what other people deal with on an every day basis on something that I'm not used to,” Valdez said.
“What I've been learning is it is very hard to have a five person household and to get around on a limited amount of transportation," Martinez said. "So, we just have to learn to prioritize where we’re going to go first.”
Reyes said these simulations have been effective in other ways.
"Some of these ideas and some of the programs we've started have come from because of here," he said. "They went to the simulation and they say, OK in Corpus Christi have you started this or have you done this because this is the challenge I was going through at this simulation."
Many people end up volunteering for Mission 911 after experiencing the simulation. You can learn more about volunteering here.