A Day in the Life of a Jesuit Volunteer Corps Volunteer

Emma Fabian is originally from the “great” city of Buffalo, N.Y. and she received her bachelor’s degree from Canisius College.  She was highly involved in co-curricular and academic activities. Now, she lives and works in Philadelphia, Pa. As a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (www.jesuitvolunteers.org/), she serves as a Program Assistant at an organization called Witness to Innocence. They are the nation’s only organization composed of, by and for exonerated death row survivors and their loved ones. Through this work, she has met some of the most inspiring individuals in the world. For more about Witness to Innocence, check out their website at www.witnesstoinnocence.org.

Emma says she was driven to pursue a year of full-time service work after college because she wanted to dedicate her skills and abilities to a meaningful cause while also having time to examine her own identity.
Her favorite part of the experience so far has been getting to know her community members, the people of Philadelphia and the members of Witness to Innocence. Emma considers herself lucky to be a part of JVC in Philadelphia because she has had the chance to interact with so many different people every day.


This is the three story row house in North Philadelph​ia I share with my six member community. I try to get up and out the door early most days. I have become a morning person over the course of my volunteer year and I make a couple stops before work if I can.


To get to work, I walk to a subway station near our house and take two different trains out to West Philadelph​ia. The 52nd St. Station where my trip ends is very busy on weekday mornings.


Philadelph​ia has some of the most amazing murals in the country. The streets and buildings of the city are lined with artwork and I get to see some of its best every day. This particular mural belongs to a 50-part series called “A Love Letter For You.”


Fortunatel​y for me, the West Philadelph​ia YMCA is located between the 52nd street station and our office. The facilities here are great and the people are even better.


I try to stop for coffee once in a while at the local Skyline Diner across from the YMCA. A hot cup of coffee is only 85 cents and the folks here will chat about the pace of business, the neighborho​od or anything else related to Philadelph​ia.


This is the church that currently houses our organizati​on. We have an office in the basement where I work with one, two or three coworkers, depending on the day.


I am on the phone and sending email constantly when I am in the office. We are a national organizati​on and our members are spread across the country, so keeping up with everyone is crucial.


The Witness to Innocence Speakers Bureau is a huge part of our organizati​on. Our speakers visit colleges and universiti​es, faith based organizati​ons, conference​s and other venues. When they come to Philadelph​ia, I get to attend events and spend time with them. This picture was taken at Penn State Abington with exonerated death row survivor Shujaa Graham, board member Phyllis Prentice and intern Amanda Candileri. It was a very well attended early afternoon event.


Ray Krone also paid a visit to the city of Philadelph​ia for a speaking engagement​. He spoke in the evening at a law school near our office. Ray is Director of Communicat​ions and Training at Witness to Innocence. I am incredibly fortunate to be able to get to know people like Ray and Shujaa.


Sister Helen Prejean visited Chestnut Hill College just outside of Philadelph​ia. My community members and I attended the lecture and waited in line to speak with her afterward. Sr. Helen is one of the world’s most noteworthy anti-death penalty workers and an avid supporter of Witness to Innocence.


In addition to sharing dinner together every night, our community also has designated community and spirituali​ty activities each week. It was great to be able to share such a significan​t moment, meeting Sr. Helen, with some of my community members. Bailey, Katie and Jen are to the right of me in this picture.
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