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 Catherine Gamble, who is serving as the Community Development Fellow at Project HOME .
Name: Catherine Gamble
Hometown: Howell, NJ
University: University of Delaware
Major: Organizational and Community Leadership
How did you decide to become a Philly Fellow?
I heard about the Philly Fellows opportunity through a recruitment email. I was interning in the banking industry at the time, but felt like I could be doing more to serve the community around me. I’d come to love visiting Philadelphia during my time in college, so I went out on a limb and applied!
Let’s talk about your project. What’s your site like? What are you working on?
My work with Project HOME has evolved a lot since the time I applied, and now I’m working with their Real Estate Development VP to research potential properties so the organization can expand their target population. I’m learning a lot about how the nonprofit world works behind the scenes, which will be great experience to have under my belt once I enter my future career.
Community living is one of the most important aspects of the Philly Fellows program. What’s this like? How have you benefited?
Living with the other Philly Fellows is really what attracted me to the program in the first place – I loved the idea that I would get to surround myself with a cohort of recent grads having similar experiences. My housemates come from very different backgrounds and have a variety of life experiences that are different from mine, and most of them have lived in the Philadelphia area for a while now so they’ve been great about helping me to learn the area. We live together well and there’s always someone to talk to which is great during such a big life transition into the working world!
What’s your favorite part about being a Philly Fellow so far?
So far I’ve loved finding our local farmer’s market and seeing all the unique things my neighborhood has to offer! City life has been a really cool transition for me, everything you need is at your fingertips!
Is it difficult to live on an AmeriCorps VISTA stipend? How do you manage?
I was certainly worried about the living stipend prior to my move, but knowing that the cost of housing is covered makes it much easier. My biggest expense currently is my monthly SEPTA pass (since food is covered by my SNAP benefits), so I’m expecting to be able to save some of my living allowance each month. I’m still able to go out to dinner with friends and enjoy the occasional concert, plus there are lots of free or low cost things to do around the city!
Have you had any major successes since starting your Philly Fellows term?
My biggest accomplishment to date is my fluency in the SEPTA bus system. Being from the suburbs I had never commuted using public transportation, so learning which bus to get on and how to transfer was a big step for me. I can now navigate my way to work confidently, transfers and all!
Any idea what’s next? What do you hope to do after Philly Fellows?
I’m hoping to stay in the Philadelphia area either pursuing a career in the nonprofit sector or going back to school to get my MPH.
If you had to describe yourself as an animal, which one would it be and why?
I aspire to be like a manatee because they float through life with grace, and they always look happy!