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Title: Simulation in Los Gatos to show how real the poverty level is in the Silicon Valley

Source: Mercury News, November 3rd, 2009

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Simulation in Los Gatos to show how real the poverty level is in the Silicon Valley

A new campaign to cut Santa Clara County's poverty level in half by 2020 comes to Los Gatos on Nov. 7 when an unusual Community Action Poverty Simulation will be held at the Presbyterian Church of Los Gatos, 16575 Shannon Road.

"We're attempting to educate, sensitize and excite people about the struggles of poor people in our county," said Pat Plant, the hunger action advocate at the Presbytery of San Jose.

"Twenty-five percent of the county's population is below the poverty line," Plant said. "There's a lot of education that needs to happen if we're going to make change."

The poverty simulation has 80 different roles for people to play, representing 22 families and individuals. "It's an interactive, role-playing adventure where people become a typical poor person," Plant said. "People will be grouped as couples, individuals and families. So you might be a child, mother, father, senior citizen or a homeless person."

The task of each "poor" person will be figuring out a way to provide food, shelter and other basic necessities of life.

"The cool thing is that around the edge of the room there are tables representing different community services," Plant said. "So the tables will have people representing schools, banks, hospitals, employers, pawn shops, jails, homeless shelters and community service agencies."

The people who are stationed at the tables will be actual clients of West Valley Community Services, which provides assistance to low-income people in Los Gatos, Saratoga, Monte Sereno and Campbell.

"When we meet to discuss it at the end, the people who come will be able to communicate with the people who are actually experiencing poverty and using West Valley's services," Plant said. "That is very helpful. It's not me telling people what I've observed. They're telling their story."

Plant said that the simulations are a real eye-opener.

To volunteer for the Community Action Poverty Simulation, call 408-279-0220 or e-mail pat@sanjosepby.org. For more information about Step Up Silicon Valley, visit www.stepupsv.org.

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