Anthropology Major Breaks from Classes but Not Volunteerism during Gentrification Trip

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

By Jackie Fedeli*

Penelope Baggs

Penelope Baggs

“Sometimes, a positive conversation about someone’s future can be all it takes for them to realize their potential.” This is what University of Colorado (CU) Boulder student Penelope Baggs learned last spring during a university-sponsored gentrification trip to San Francisco that would not have been possible without the Casey Feldman Foundation.

The anthropology major was a 2015 Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break Scholarship recipient.  The scholarship made it possible for her to study the effects of gentrification on individuals from low socioeconomic backgrounds who could not keep up with the rising rent prices brought on by the San Francisco tech boom.

The scholarship also allowed Penelope to continue her mission of helping those less fortunate – a mission that she accepted when she was a little girl and her mom taught her to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

What started out as respect for animals and all living creatures grew tenfold when 16 year-old Penelope took part in a mission trip to Uganda to improve the quality of life for a local village. She assisted in the organization of sports day at a local orphanage and provided food and clothing to those in dire need. She also assisted in the construction of a well, which made water more accessible to the local community.

Penelope continued her mission during her college career.  She started out volunteering at a soup kitchen, and took it one step further when she began collecting leftover meals from her dorm to distribute to the area’s homeless.  When she studied abroad, she spent her free time helping patients in a dialysis hospital in Spain.

During the gentrification trip, Penelope and her classmates learned first-hand about the daily struggle to meet basic needs that many families face.  They worked with a local church to serve breakfast to residents suffering from food insecurity, joined a local food outreach group to deliver food directly to those in need, and bagged rice at Marin Food Bank. Penelope and her peers helped feed more than 400 families in less than one day.

Penelope doesn’t spend her time volunteering because it is a great resume builder. She does it because she believes she was born with the tools to meet her basic needs and therefore, it is her social responsibility to level the field for those less-fortunate. “I hope to one day join a team who make significant progress with social issues on a day to day basis,” said Penelope.

Donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that other students may experience the rewards of an Alternative Spring Break.

Related Links:

“Alternative Spring Break Scholarships Fostering a Generation Who Wants to Give Back“,   Nov. 2014  (Casey Feldman Foundation) 

About the Alternative Spring Break Program (CU Volunteer Resource Center)

Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break Blog News (scroll down through for all articles)

Penelope and her fellow CU students during a break in San Francisco for a group shot

Penelope and her fellow CU students during a break in San Francisco for a group shot


Jackie_Fedeli_pic*Jackie Fedeli studied marketing at Temple University. She began her career with the Philadelphia law firm of Anapol Weiss where she was a colleague of Casey Feldman’s father, Joel. She recently joined the Digital Delivery team at a global professional services company that focuses on advisory, broking and risk management.