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Poverty simulation: 14.2% of county lives in poverty

AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) members bring passion and perseverance where the need is greatest: to organizations that help eradicate poverty. AmeriCorps VISTA members serve as a catalyst for change, living and working alongside community members to meet our nation’s most pressing challenges and advance local solutions.

According to the 2017 U.S. Census Bureau poverty data, 12.7% of the U.S. population live in poverty, in Pulaski County, the percentage is 14.2%.  That percentage covers approximately 7,392 people, 17% of that number are children under 18 years of age.

“One important step towards eradicating poverty in our community is by bringing awareness that it actually exists. It’s normal for people whose daily needs are being met to become complacent about the struggles our neighbors face. We conduct these poverty simulations to bring awareness that there are members of our community who deal with these stressful situations,” said Nadine Albrecht, AmeriCorps VISTA leader with the Waynesville AmeriCorps VISTA program.

The Waynesville VISTA members conducted a poverty simulation with AmeriCorps members, students at Pick Educational and Volunteer Facility and soldiers from 2-10 Infantry Battalion, Pick’s Partner in Education.

Participants were assigned roles in families, such as a child, a single parent, part of a dual parent family or a grandparent raising grandkids. Over the course of an hour they felt what it might be like to be part of a typical low-income family trying to survive from month to month. The families had to make decisions regarding work or school and which bills to pay. Along with the families, volunteers filled the roles of resource agencies such the food pantry, health clinic, day care, employment center, realtor/mortgage company, welfare offices, grocery stores, pawn shops and more. The “month” was broken down into four 15-minute weeks during which they had to make these decisions.

“The poverty simulation was a great eye opener. It helped provide our cadre more insight on the looming stresses many of our trainees are dealing with back home as well as the conditions many of our surrounding neighbors deal with. I enjoyed interacting with other volunteers in the community such as AmeriCorps,” said Shared Army Major Isah Kushma, Battalion Executive Officer for 2-10 Infantry Regiment.

John Box, AmeriCorps assistant director stated, “The poverty simulation conducted by the AmeriCorps VISTA leaders, supported by our military partners, was a great opportunity for our AmeriCorps members to experience the stress (on a small scale) of those who are impoverished. At times, we forget that even the smallest members of our community suffer the stress of poverty as it was demonstrated during the simulation within a family setting. Kudos to the AmeriCorps VISTA team for conducting a fantastic training that brings a new level of awareness to poverty and its effects within our community.”



The Community Resource Office (CRO), under the direction of Courtney Long, is a grant-supported department of the Waynesville R-VI School District that manages district volunteers, AmeriCorps school tutors, Club TIGER Afterschool Program, Snack in a Pack Program, college and career readiness, service learning, and more. These programs are made possible by grants from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and Army Youth Programs in Your Neighborhood (AYPYN). For more information about the CRO Programs or how to get involved, contact (573) 842-2250 or

Poverty Simulation Poverty Simulation


"Issued January 4, 2019"