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

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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.

 

 

With an Open Mind and Open Heart, Scholarship Recipient Strives to Use her Passion and Energy to Help Others

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

By Gail Roth*

Madeline Gross“Stoked and blessed” is how Madeline Gross, a Junior Anthropology major at the University of Colorado at Boulder described her reaction to being selected as the recipient of a Casey Feldman Memorial Scholarship to participate in the University’s Alternative Spring Break Program. “I signed up …specifically to learn more about what it means to be an ally to the LGBTQ community. I saw the deeply ingrained and confusing attitudes from parents, friends, community leaders, teachers and doctors … I wanted to understand what it means to be of a marginalized community.” Although she has faced challenges in her own life, overall she feels privileged to be able to use her time as a college student for the good of others.

Raised by her grandparents in a close knit church-going family, Madeline saw little support in her community for teens struggling with gender and sexual identity, especially the impact on friends who were not able to be seen “as fully human” by those closest to them because they were different. As a high school junior seeking inspiration in the big world outside her Fort Morgan, Colorado home, 16-year old Madeline spent a year in Minas Gerais, Brazil, learning and volunteering through the foundation APAE. While in South America, she spent half her school day in class and the rest working with mentally and physically disabled children and adults, in another language (Portuguese), far from home.

At CU Boulder, Madeline remains committed to improving the lives of others from marginalized communities. In the spirit of Casey Feldman’s advocacy and support of the rights of the LGTQ community, Madeline, along with other dedicated and curious CU students, participated in ThroughOUT San Fran: LGBTQ Advocacy. The program’s participants experienced the diversity of the LBGTQ community with members from every walk of life. They learned about the needs of its members for food, shelter, medical necessities as well as protection from HIV/AIDS, police brutality and discrimination. Among the projects she worked on during her stay, Madeline and other volunteers walked more than 14 miles across San Francisco with the AIDS Housing Alliance to find housing for people with immediate needs for shelter and to meet with various hotels to see if they wanted to partner with the organization.

Just as she feels grateful for her many opportunities for civic engagement and her ability to make a difference, Madeline says of her Alternative Spring Break experience, “I understand many of the benefits I have being a college student, being a heterosexual, white woman because I don’t worry about unfair treatment or harassment on a daily basis.” By working with, not for, people from the LGBTQ community, Madeline not only understands the issues on a deeper level but made friends with other trip members in the process.

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

Madeline Gross (rear, brown hat) and her fellow CU students in San Francisco

Madeline Gross (rear, brown hat) and her fellow CU students in San Francisco

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)

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gail roth*Gail Roth is an attorney with Bookspan Family Law in Radnor, PA.  Having also experienced the traumatic loss of a loved one, Gail  focuses her practice on helping clients move through difficult transitions and building happier futures. She is a former colleague of Casey’s father, Joel Feldman.