UDMO seeks local officials to experience lifestyle of the needy
Upper Des Moines Opportunity, Inc. (UDMO) will once again bring policymakers and Iowa's low-income families together for a unique educational opportunity. UDMO, a community action agency serving Buena Vista, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Hamilton, Humboldt, O'Brien, Osceola, Palo Alto, Pocahontas, Webster and Wright Counties, is coordinating the Walk A Mile program in its 12-county service area. The Walk A Mile program pairs public policy makers and low-income people together, one-on-one, for a month of "walking a mile in each other's shoes."
The first local pairing was Storm Lake state legislator Mary Lou Freeman with a college student and single mother on public assistance, last year. Both said the found the process to be an eye-opening one.
The Walk a Mile program began in Seattle, Washington and has grown to include programs in more than 33 states across the nation. The program provides an opportunity for policy makers to develop a better understanding of the issues and obstacles of living on public assistance. Simultaneously, those receiving assistance will learn about the challenges involved in making policy decisions.
UDMO's 2006 project runs from August 28 through September 25. State, local and national legislators will be matched with low-income individuals from each county in UDMO's service area. The legislators and low-income participants will have weekly phone contact and share other face-to-face experiences such as visiting a food bank or employment office, attending a children's event, or attending a public policy meeting. The policymaker will also be asked to live on the estimated dollar amount of what they would receive in food stamp allocations for their family size.