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Seattle Credit Union Shines Light on Real-Life Struggles with Poverty Simulation

Recently, our entire Seattle Credit Union family gathered to explore and learn about diversity, inclusion, and empathy in a way that’s never been done before in the credit union’s history.

The entire staff went through a poverty simulation, where each person was placed into a household and assigned a different identity – all based on real people. With the clock ticking, each person had to accomplish a list of tasks such as get children to school, visit the doctor or social worker, or find a job (and go to work).

seattle credit union employees participating in a poverty simulation

Some assumed the identity of an individual experiencing homelessness, a disability, a healthcare need, or other challenge. Certain families were unable to utilize the services of a bank and thus had to rely on predatory practices like payday loan offices. In most cases, the family units experienced a significant amount of stress and fatigue trying to accomplish their list of tasks in the given time frame. Participants left the exercise with a sobering realization of the real-life struggles that many face on a daily basis.

"The simulation provided keen insight on what it is like to walk in the shoes of another. The interactions created a flood of emotions for me…it reminded me how important it is to be present and patient with members, as we never know what trials they may be facing." A Branch Representative shared, "I believe Seattle Credit Union has really and truly made it a priority to assist members in leading a prosperous life!"

poverty simulation tools and materials

In addition to the simulation our staff heard from Seattle Credit Union’s community partner, Wellspring Family Services, about the resources and opportunities they provide for those in need including community services, counseling, and employee assistance programs.

Our credit union recognizes that poverty is a reality for many individuals and families in our community and in efforts to support all Seattleites on their journey to prosperity, we must remember the unique challenges that individuals face to achieve financial stability and independence.

“We can’t truly empathize with our members and community until we’ve experienced these challenges to some degree. This simulation is a start. By striving for understanding and inclusion, we can build and deliver products and services that honestly and completely meet the needs of those we serve.” Tonita Webb, Chief Operating Officer, Seattle Credit Union shared.

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