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Immersive experience offers glimpse of those facing poverty

To build awareness and spur constructive dialogue about poverty and its effects, United Way of the Coastal Bend, in partnership with Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and the Department of Family Protective Services, hosted the Cost of Poverty Experience (COPE) on Oct. 12.

COPE is a 2.5-hour immersive role-play simulation that gives participants an opportunity to move beyond stereotypes to a more holistic understanding of the causes and effects of poverty. Also captured in the experience is the role that the broader community plays in their interactions with low-income families.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 16.1% of Nueces County residents live in poverty. Additionally, 23.7% of children in Nueces County reside in households living at the poverty level.

"The Cost of Poverty Experience allows you to step into the shoes of someone with limited resources," said Donna Hurley, Vice President of Community Impact at United Way of the Coastal Bend. "Growing empathy and gaining perspective into the effects of poverty will help us engage in conversations that can hopefully bring change and lead to a stronger community."

The event is just one of the many ways United Way of the Coastal Bend works to mobilize the caring power of community and support programs that serve people in the areas of education, health and financial stability.