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Two Houston CUs Participate in Poverty Simulation Exercise
Thursday, February 25, 2016 6:55 AM

Employees from Energy Capital Credit Union and Cy-Fair Federal Credit Union participated in a Poverty Simulation Exercise during their Annual Staff Retreats on Feb. 15 at the Berry Center in Cypress, Texas.

The Poverty Simulation Exercise is designed to give credit union employees and leadership a taste of what it is like to experience a month in poverty in America. In the simulation, 120 participants assume the roles of 20 families. Some families are newly unemployed, some are homeless, and others are senior citizens living on disability payments or raising grandchildren.

The Poverty Simulation was sponsored by the National Credit Union Foundation and led by its National Program Director Lois Kitsch, who manages the Foundation’s REAL Solutions program, helping credit unions serve financially underserved consumers.

During the exercise, which lasts up to three hours and includes four 15-minute "weeks," these families must work to make ends meet via the situations they're given. At the end of the simulation, many of the credit union staff felt exhausted, overwhelmed, frustrated, and left with a sense of what a day is like in the life of a family trying to make ends meet or has already experienced poverty. To be able to walk in another person’s shoes for even a few hours proved to be an eye opening experience for a number of the employees who participated in this exercise.

Both credit unions' leadership and training departments believed that this simulation would help their employees to be able to really understand what their members go through from day to day and month to month. The exercise served as a real-world example that can be used by the employees of both financial institutions to better understand their members and what it is that we can do for them as their financial life resource.

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