Understanding poverty in the Finger Lakes

A life of privilege doesn’t necessarily mean wealthy. It means not worrying about having enough money to buy groceries and pay utility bills, mortgage or rent. It means being able to afford a decent home and decent child care. It means being able to plan for the future.

On March 8, professionals from across the Finger Lakes region traded in their career hats and lives of privilege to role play for just a few hours the lives of people struggling to get by day to day.

Cathy Landschoot, community advocacy coordinator with Family Counseling Services of the Finger Lakes, was among the 100 or so who participated in the poverty simulation — a training exercise called “Walk in My Shoes” for librarians, government workers and those providing direct services to people in need. Landschoot said she experienced what it’s like to be one of the people she helps in her profession after role-playing a woman struggling financially and emotionally.

“The goal is to create empathy and understanding, so we can provide better services,” said Andrea Snyder, outreach and training coordinator for the Pioneer Library System. The exercise, held at the Wayne -Finger Lakes BOCES conference center in Newark, was a project of the Pioneer system in partnership with Rochester Regional Library Council and the Wayne-Finger Lakes School Library System.

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