From Made to Flourish:
What does poverty feel like? Congregants from Macedonia Baptist Church and other churches in Made to Flourish’s Kansas City Network wanted to find out through the Cost of Poverty Experience (COPE) this past March.
What is COPE?
Unlike other poverty simulations, COPE lets you step into the shoes of families living in poverty in America. For a few hours, individuals assume a new identity and walk through a series of encounters with the situations and institutions commonly facing our low-income neighbors.
According to Marlo Fox from Think Tank (the nonprofit that created COPE), the stories are real, based on conversations with low-income families in the greater Dayton, OH area. COPE seeks to be “a disruptive experience” that moves individuals personally—and churches corporately—to “a place of heart change and real action,” she says.
It typically takes 15-20 volunteers to run COPE. These volunteers play the part of representatives from a variety of institutions with which the poor commonly have to deal, such as government agencies, businesses, nonprofits, and churches. When Macedonia Baptist Church hosted COPE, some of the volunteers were congregants with personal experience of poverty. According to Macedonia’s Disciple Pastor DeLano Sheffield, the COPE “was a good opportunity for them to be on the other side of the table.”