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 Chris Capron, who is serving as the Child Health Outreach Specialist at Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY).
Hometown: Santa Monica, CA
University: Swarthmore College
Major: Psychology (minor in English Literature)
How did you decide to become a Philly Fellow?
I was eager to learn more about the nonprofit sector and to do meaningful work out of college. Philly Fellows was a great opportunity in a great city that offered to let me explore my professional and personal interests, and I am so glad my friends recommended it to me.
Let’s talk about your project. What’s your site like? What are you working on?
My host organization, Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), has a huge range of activities: everything from Pre-K thru 12 education advocacy to direct service enrolling children in public health insurance. I work on outreach and event planning, making sure that we are ready for large scale events like a day of free eye care for kids, Give Kids Sight Day, where over 1000 kids will get free eye exams and glasses. I also proofread grants, work with our insurance helpline, and translate materials into Spanish. My favorite part of the work has to be community outreach, where we get our name out to the community and let them know what to expect, because I love the range of responses we get and how much I learn from community members and other activists as we build coalitions and try to support community health and well-being.
Community living is one of the most important aspects of the Philly Fellows program. What’s this like? How have you benefited?
It’s really nice: it’s fun to have people around to chat with and learn from. It also encourages me to be clean and neat for my own sake and others. We also love to go out for things like smoothie night, but if we want privacy, it’s also available.
What’s your favorite part about being a Philly Fellow so far?
I like the work, and I really like working in Philadelphia: it is a great city. But by far my favorite thing is my bike. I love being able to go almost anywhere with it. Jasper (my bike) and I go all over the city: to my outreach events, grocery shopping, for rides to my alma mater an hour away, for fun along the Schuylkill, and I think that I get more exercise as an office worker than I ever did in college. Biking in Philly is partly a science but also an art, and I have received a lot of support from Philly Fellows to do that, which has been great!
Is it difficult to live on an AmeriCorps VISTA stipend? How do you manage?
It is hard to manage, but I have been carefully tracking my finances once I learned how important it was so that I can learn about my spending habits. I like using farmers’ markets, finding deals in local stores, and not going out as much. It is very doable but more humbling.
What’s the most challenging part of being a Philly Fellow?
Have you had any major successes since starting your Philly Fellows term?
I’ve been on Spanish language television as an interpreter and have helped form a plan for more community outreach.
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 working in the surrounding communities, like Upper Darby, which are so rich in culture and a special kind of vibrancy. The PMA is beautiful and really cool, and biking along the Schuylkill is lovely as well. West Philadelphia has lots of great restaurants, but for really fancy outings, I have to tip my hat to Aki in Center City: the Japanese restaurant has an all-you-can-eat sushi menu that, while expensive, often feels second to none.
What’s your favorite hobby?
I have fallen in love with biking all over!
If you were a super-hero, what power would you have?
Teleporting: as much as I like biking, it would save a lot of time and energy
What about an animal: if you had to describe yourself as one, which one would it be and why?
A dog, because I am very like a dog and have always been very connected with my own and other dogs. I have often been pleasantly surprised when I am described by others as a dog, too, but it regularly happens.
And now the question everyone’s probably asking: any idea what’s next? What do you hope to do after Philly Fellows?
After PF, I’m either going to look for more work in the Philly area or try to go to school for a graduate degree in psychology or public health. Beyond that, who knows? My plans, for better or worse, are far from finalized, and if something comes up before then, I hope to embrace it.