By Socrates Lizardo and Keagan Hynes
The event was hosted by LIFT-Chicago late Saturday morning. LIFT-Chicago is a non-profit organization whose mission is to “help community members achieve economic stability and well-being,” according to LIFT-Chicago.
Students who participated in the event were from DePaul University, UIC, and Loyola University Chicago. In LIFTopolis, students took on a role of character who was experiencing troubles achieving economic stability. Each character had a goal they needed to achieve to reach that stability. But attaining that goal is not easy with the complicated social service system that’s in place.
The simulation makes an effort to be an authentic experience to show the realities of today’s social service system in the United States. In the simulation students waited long lines, experienced bad service, and were sent away because they didn’t have the proper paper work. They had to go wait another long line to get the paper work required. The social services in the simulation included, Social Security Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, emergency shelter, Housing Authority, Illinois Department of Employment Security, and the Verifications Department. There were also businesses in the simulation that included a realty company and a law firm.
Students felt that they learned a lot at the event.
“The experience was really empowering you never know what a client goes through until you are put into their shoes,” said Sarosh Bhojani, 19, a freshman elementary education major at Loyola. “You refer clients hoping they will get good service but they go through a lot of trouble when they are trying to get aid.”
Other students agreed.
“Going through this experience you relate to their situations,” said Ryan McInturf, 20, a sophomore majoring in international business and French.“ It is an eye-opening experience being a participant in LIFTopolis.”
Students suffered a number of difficulties while navigating their way through the social services “maze”, but still took away from the experience.
“It was a little rough at times, but ultimately I am here to support LIFT and I’ve really learned a lot about what it actually feels like to be homeless,” said Joe Antonini, 19, a freshman studying marketing.
An advocate for LIFT-Chicago hoped the participants took a lot away from experience
“I hope participants understand why it is so challenging to get out of poverty, said Hannah Green, 21, a senior majoring in social work “there are systematic barriers that make it difficult for people in need to achieve economic stability.”
LIFT is a non-profit resource center that helps community members attain economic stability and well-being by providing services like access to housing options, potential areas of employment and social benefits such as food stamps and healthcare options.
LIFT has two offices in Chicago—one located in Uptown at 4554 N. Broadway and another in Pilsen at 1700 West 18th St.
If you would like to find out more about LIFT-Chicago here are some links to find out more information: