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 Caitlin Weiss, who is serving as the Director of Community Relations for the Medical Legal Community Partnership (MLCP) at Philadelphia Legal Assistance.
Name: Caitlin Weiss
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
University: University of Pennsylvania
Major: Health and Societies with a concentration in Public Health
How did you decide to become a Philly Fellow?
I knew that I wanted to work in the Philadelphia nonprofit sector during my gap year. However, I felt conflicted about applying to work for a nonprofit if I could only commit one year. This fellowship solved that problem and offered me the opportunity to work on a project that is closely aligned with my goals and interests, so here I am.
Let’s talk about your project. What’s your site like? What are you working on?
I work for the Medical-Legal-Community Partnership (MLCP). It’s a collaboration between Philadelphia Legal Assistance (PLA), a legal services nonprofit, and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH), a government agency. Unlike a lot of other cities, PDPH runs its own community health centers, where all Philadelphians can receive primary care at low or no cost. The MLCP provides free legal services on site to the patients of Health Centers 3 and 4 in West Philadelphia through the efforts of one full-time attorney from PLA and a network of pro bono volunteers to address the social determinants of health. The majority of cases handled by the MLCP are related to Medicaid appeals, public benefits access, landlord-tenant issues, and family stability. My job is to strengthen the network of pro bono volunteers and improve program sustainability.
Community living is one of the most important aspects of the Philly Fellows program. What’s this like? How have you benefited?
Community living has been a challenge and an adjustment. However, my roommates are awesome and I’ve learned so much from them.
What’s your favorite part about being a Philly Fellow so far?
Hanging out with my roommates after work and sharing our work experiences, hopes, dreams, fears, etc.
Is it difficult to live on an AmeriCorps VISTA stipend? How do you manage?
I haven’t found it to be difficult. Since Philly Fellows pays for housing and I cook my own meals, I haven’t had any problems.
The question everyone’s probably asking: any idea what’s next? What do you hope to do after Philly Fellows?
I start medical school at the end of July. I was interested in my job with the MLCP because of the connection to the community health centers, and I’m excited to begin the journey that hopefully will lead me back there as a medical provider someday.
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?