The Putnam Examiner

Participants Needed for Putnam CAP’s ‘Walk in My Shoes’

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shoesPutnam Community Action Program, which is more commonly known as Putnam CAP, is conducting a poverty simulation exercise in an effort to sensitize the community to the realities faced by low-income people.

The half-day session will be held on Tuesday, May 7 from 9 a.m. to noon at Temple Beth Shalom, which is located at 760 Route 6 in Mahopac.

“The poverty simulation is designed to help participants understand what it would be like to live in a typical low income family in Putnam, trying to survive from month to month,” said Judy Callahan, director of Putnam CAP.

Up to 88 participants are needed to assume the roles of families facing poverty. People will be places in different groups and will have to act out different scenarios.

Some families are newly unemployed, some are single parent households, some are homeless, others are receiving TANF benefits, etc. There are nine different profiles for the households.

Additionally, there will be “volunteer staff workers” who will assume the roles of the community resources: i.e. grocer, banker, police officer, DSS workers, CAP worker, landlord/rent collector, child care worker, teacher etc.

“We will strive to have these roles assigned to people who have had real life experiences navigating the system,” said Callahan.

The event will, which runs from 9 a.m. to noon, consist of an introduction and briefing, the actual simulation exercise and finally a debriefing session in which participants and volunteer staffers will share their feelings and experiences about what they have just learned.

“We think this is a very powerful tool for increasing awareness and taking it one step further, in fostering real understanding,” said Callahan.

Putnam Community Action Program is a component of Westchester Community Opportunity Program, Inc. (aka WestCOP). It is a not-for-profit agency that provides an array of human service to  the residents of Putnam County.

“Because of our location, people tend to think that we only serve Brewster, but in reality we serve residents from the entire county,” said Callahan. “We provide assistance to low-income residents, helping them to work toward self-sufficiency. We operate a food pantry and soup kitchen, provide emergency financial assistance, intervention services, free tax preparation services, referral and advocacy services and also run several special programs each year: Holiday Toys, Thanksgiving Baskets, Back-to-School Supplies and a Summer Youth Employment Program.”

Putnam CAP, which has been serving the Putnam area for 27 years, operates primarily through its volunteers. It works collaboratively with members of the community, including individuals and businesses, civic groups and faith based organizations.

“Volunteers are also essential to ouroperation,” said Callahan. “We have a small staff of five people, only one of whom is full time.”

If you are interested in being a participant in the poverty simulation or are interested in learning about ways to volunteer call 845-278-8021.

Reserve your spot in the simulation by Friday, April 26.

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