Janesville63.2°

Hunting for an answer to poverty

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staff, Gazette
September 7, 2012

— Help is available for those struggling with poverty.

Government agencies, community organizations, church groups and others offer meals, clothing, job search assistance and more to people that have fallen on hard times.

But many people who need help don't know how to find it among a complex web of agencies and organizations, many with different hours and missions.

To help the public understand what it's like to seek services, the Homeless Intervention Task Force is hosting the first Poverty Scavenger Hunt on Friday, Sept. 28.

"You don't know where to start, so sometimes people just guess" said Jessica Schafer, client advocate at ECHO.

Here's how the simulation will work: Teams of up to five members can complete the scavenger hunt in Janesville or Beloit. Teams may rely on one member for transportation or take the bus and receive extra points. Each team will be assigned one of 14 scenarios created by organizers.

Some scenarios would require a team to take on the role of a pregnant woman with two children who is forced out of her home by domestic violence and is looking for food and shelter. Other scenarios involve a young man working a minimum-wage job struggling to pay for child support, rent and gas.

According to the event's registration flyer, teams will be sent to agencies to learn about services and barriers. While at each agency, teams will be awarded points based on whether services are available and whether the team is eligible.

Organizers hope the event will raise money and awareness.

"You don't really think about ECHO until you or a family member need it," said Fran Brien, volunteer coordinator at ECHO.



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