The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

May 14, 2013

Area leaders to be poor for a day

JOHNSTOWN — Policies dealing with poverty usually are shaped by financially stable individuals who have achieved success in their fields.

So, at times, there might be a disconnect between them and the people they are trying to assist.

In order to help lessen the divide, the Cambria County Health and Welfare Council and Community Action Partnership of Cambria County plan to hold Walk a Day in My Shoes: Understanding Poverty on Tues­day at Greater Johnstown High School.

Among the scheduled participants are former U.S. Rep. Mark Critz, Cambria County Commissioner Thomas Cher­nisky and Community Foundation for the Alleghenies Executive Director Mike Kane.

“I’m looking forward to going into it with an open mind,” Chernisky said.

They will simulate what it is like to make financial and personal decisions while having only $10 to spend during the day for food, medicine and other necessities.

“When you start to realize what decisions you have to make to live on $10 a day, it really gets frightening,” Critz said.

The intended goal of the simulation is to help the participants understand how they or their organizations can impact the lives of people living in poverty, who account for one-third of Johnstown’s population.

“We want to better know how we can understand how to approach the issue more compassionately and understand what the issues are and how we can address them,” said Kane, whose organization works with donors to fund philanthropic programs.

Critz, Chernisky and Kane are expected to be among the nearly 90 community leaders, including educators, public officials and nonprofit organizers, to participate in the simulation.

“My goal is to bring attention to the issue, especially since we have such a high level of poverty in Johnstown,” Critz said.

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