A Day in the Life of a Pennsylvania VISTA

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Release Date: 
Thursday, October 18, 2018

It is Monday morning. I wake up, miss breakfast, wait in traffic, and turn a 25-minute drive into a 40-minute drive. Sitting in the parking for 10 minutes, I enjoy the moments of peace and solitude.  I enter the courthouse and begin my workday. It’s 8:20 am. The first 5 minutes is me finishing the breakfast I missed. Throughout my morning, I check my email for updates from my supervisors. I first edit any materials I created the days before. I will go down my to-do list and check what materials I still need to create, work on, or get approved. My phone will beep. I have an upcoming meeting with my reentry team to determine how the client needs survey I created will be implemented into the intake process.  I do research and gather resources for the purpose of sharing them with the attorneys and the training sessions I am preparing to give.

Around 12:15 pm I am nearly frozen solid due to the office’s extremely low temperature. I can already tell that Pennsylvania may not be the best for a Southern girl like me. I prefer a warm climate and a warm office. I’ll go for a walk around the block to stretch my little legs and get some fresh air. After lunch, I map out a schedule of how the week will look. Which events will I attend for the week? Has my view of what reentry should look like changed based on what I observed last week? Am I in line with the VISTA timeline? Let’s hit the ground running.  Research. Create. Research. Create. A large part of my thinking throughout the day and week answers, to some extent, the question “What should reentry look like?”

Around 2:30 pm, I am a bit exhausted. If I am not frozen solid by then, I’ll stand at my desk and do more research. I laugh at the office conversations being held around me. I do enjoy being a fly on the wall. I go speak with someone I’ve been waiting to see all day. We discuss potential partnerships and the best, most reliable relationships the public defender office has. At either 4:00 or 4:15 pm I pack up to leave. I briskly walk the 2 blocks to my car.  I wait in traffic. I am home. Maybe I’ll eat if I don’t instantly lie down.

REPEAT. Maybe I will stay after for our Expungement Clinic or Participatory Defense Hub in Norristown. Maybe I’ll attend a coalition meeting in Philadelphia. Maybe I will head to the hospital or prison for a meeting with one of our community partner coalitions this week. Maybe I’ll drive the hour and a half to Pottstown for our Satellite Office or Participatory Defense Hub.