At Vanguard, our crew are dedicated to improving and supporting our communities. We volunteer with local organizations, hold food drives, and harvest a community garden for food banks. But how many of us truly know what it’s like to be in need? For those of us who have never experienced serious hunger or been unable to pay the rent, we may not understand the harsh realities of living in poverty. Exposing ourselves to these conditions, even in a simulated environment, can inspire us to have an even greater impact in helping our neighbors in need. This summer, approximately 30 crew members did just that when they participated in a poverty simulation in Charlotte.
During the exercise, the group was divided into families and asked how they would make daily decisions based on the limited resources they had. For example, many had to choose between eating a meal and paying a utility bill. The families were represented in a diverse manner – some were unemployed, others had parents in prison, some were deserted by a caregiver. During these discussions, crew experienced, on a small scale, the trade-offs of spending limited income on food, utilities, or education.
Trang P., an Investment Analyst who participated in the exercise, shares how she learned that, “Individuals from resource-constrained families have a lot of responsibilities. They are so preoccupied with getting food, finding a job, and paying bills that what seem to be trivial tasks can end up being a mountain of work.”
Ultimately, our crew walked away from the event with a better understanding of poverty conditions in Charlotte and policies affecting the economically-disadvantaged population. They feel more educated about what the less fortunate face on a daily basis and are confident that they can identify additional ways to support the communities where we live and work.
For all crew, the experience was life changing. Trang went on to say, “I want to be an ambassador who demystifies stereotypes and promotes empathy.”