Ever wonder what it’s like to be a member of Philly Fellows? In the ‘Meet Our Fellows’ series, we’ll introduce you to our current fellows, their projects, and how they are benefiting from the Philly Fellows program. This post features Amanda Hallock, who is serving as the Building Wealth and Health Network Project Assistant at the Center for Hunger Free Communities.

Name: Amanda Hallock

Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland

University: University of Pennsylvania

Major: Philosophy and Political Science

How did you decide to become a Philly Fellow?

I actually heard about Philly Fellows at a Penn info session. I realized senior year that I really wanted to stay in Philadelphia. I’ve really grown to love the city over the past four years. I also knew that I wanted to get more experience with the intersection of non-profits and policy and saw several non-profits on the list that would allow me to explore that. For those two reasons, it seemed like a good fit. While choosing to do Philly Fellows was kind of scary because a specific placement isn’t guaranteed, I’m so glad I did.

Let’s talk about your project. What’s your site like? What are you working on? 

I work as a Project Assistant for The Building Wealth and Health Network (The Network) at The Center for Hunger-Free Communities which is a center at the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University. When you add Americorps,  Philly Fellows, and the fact that The Center is trauma-informed and uses The Sanctuary Model, my job can be a mouthful to explain.

Overall, my job is to assist in expanding and getting the word out about The Network, a microfinance demonstration research study that, for a year, provides parents/caregivers on public assistance matched savings accounts and 16 weeks of S.E.L.F (Safety, Emotions, Loss, Future) Empowerment Financial Literacy classes. I love my job because I am responsible for so many different projects. I run the Advisory Council, Social Media, a project to gather member stories about The Network, and more!

The most exciting thing about my job is the people I work with. They are all genuine and genuinely funny! I believe non-profits can best serve others when they are warm and welcoming and The Center has that part covered for sure.

Community living is one of the most important aspects of the Philly Fellows program. What’s this like? How have you benefited?

Even though it didn’t seem like it would be when I applied, community living has been an important part of Philly Fellows for me. My favorite part of living in my house is the random moments eating dinner or breakfast when we just happen to be there. I’ve loved being able to learn what my housemates are doing at their placements and to ask them for advice about mine. The West Philly House has thrown a lot of events over the past several months. We’ve had a housewarming, a park lunch, game nights, a brunch potluck, and a cookie exchange. While I may be tempted to get a single after spending a year with 5 roommates, communal living has made my Philly Fellows year a great one.

What’s your favorite part about being a Philly Fellow so far?

My favorite part about being a Philly Fellow so far is my site. I believe in the mission and love the people. I’m definitely set up for disappointment with my next job.

Is it difficult to live on an AmeriCorps VISTA stipend? How do you manage?

Living on a VISTA stipend isn’t difficult when housing is provided. I just make sure I save half of my stipend and cook for myself most of the time. I am usually good at sticking to a budget so I wasn’t too worried.

The question everyone’s probably asking: any idea what’s next? What do you hope to do after Philly Fellows?

After Philly Fellows I hope to get a job in policy or non-profits for 1-3 years and then head to grad school for my MPA/MPP.

A huge plus to this program is getting to live & work in Philadelphia’s vibrant communities. What do like about living in the city? Where have you explored?

I love so many things about living in the city. I love Kelly Drive and the outdoor art on the Schuylkill River Trail, I love West Philadelphia (my neighborhood), and I really love how walkable the city is in general.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

If I could only eat one meal for the rest of my life, it would be Thanksgiving. Give me a plate of cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, honey sriracha bacon brussel sprouts, and sweet potatoes with marshmallows, followed by a plate of apple, pumpkin, and pecan pie and I’m good to go.

If you had to describe yourself as an animal, which one would it be and why?

If I had to describe myself as an animal, I’d be a llama. Llamas are very social, curious, and can learn simple tasks after a few repetitions. They also spit at others when irritated.