HPU social work students participate in Mission Waco’s poverty simulation

Poverty simulation group HPU 2017BROWNWOOD – January 24, 2018 – Seven Howard Payne University students and one faculty member recently took part in one of Mission Waco’s poverty simulations, an experience designed to give participants a firsthand look at poverty in America. This was HPU’s ninth year to participate in the event.

Mission Waco creates a safe, controlled weekend of experiences that is designed to increase empathy for those living in poverty in America. HPU students joined approximately 30 other people of various ages to go through this simulation together.

Dan Humeniuk, assistant professor of social work and chair of HPU’s Department of Social Work and Sociology, takes part in the simulation with his students each year.

“The whole group of participants was smaller this year which was actually a good thing,” said Humeniuk. “We were able to go through the simulation and spend more time in processing the experience which is difficult with a larger group.”

Attendees experienced a very small sample of the hunger, tiredness and hardship many homeless people have to endure on a daily basis. Morgan Lacy, a senior from Early, attended the simulation and gave his perspective of the event.

“Those who are from a poor background are not less than me; they are my equals according to God,” Lacy said. “Having a better understanding of the hardships of those in poverty, I can understand what their needs are.”

The poverty simulation participants were not given any luxuries, including transportation. They walked everywhere they needed to go which totaled about 18 miles over the weekend.

The group had the opportunity to experience a church service and worship under the I-35 bridge over 8th Street in Waco on Sunday morning. Mission Waco conducts the church services and, as part of the simulation, participants walk one-and-a-half miles from the site to the bridge. Groups of people from all over Waco including college students, families and homeless people join together to worship under the bridge.

Another HPU student who attended the poverty simulation weekend, junior Lyn Norway from Brownwood, shared her takeaway from the event.

“I believe that all people, no matter what career they go into, should go through this poverty simulation, so that they will have a better understanding of what poverty truly is and how they can help to end it,” said Norway.

Besides Humeniuk, Lacy and Norway, others from HPU who attended were junior Jessica Catlett from Alleyton, senior Jacob Escobar from Brownwood, 2017 HPU graduate Gabriella Guest from Brownwood, senior Crystal Hernandez from Brownwood and junior Marina Sheets-Ochoa from Brownwood.

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Photo cutline: Eight from HPU participated in the 2017 Poverty Simulation in Waco. They are pictured on the HPU campus. Left to right: Dan Humeniuk, assistant professor of social work and chair of the Department of Social Work and Sociology; Jacob Escobar; Gabriella Guest; Crystal Hernandez; Lyn Norway; Marina Sheets-Ochoa; Jessica Catlett; and Morgan Lacy.