Women's Basketball's Farmer Filled with Hometown Pride at Summer Internship

July 24, 2017

A few weeks ago we told you about women's basketball's Jada Matthews and her dual-internship summer. One of her jobs was at the Philadelphia Mayor's Office.

Also walking the corridors of Mayor Jim Kenney's office this summer was rising senior guard and Philadelphia native Mia Farmer. The Cardinal O'Hara graduate has been busy working an internship on the Mayor's Commission on People with Disabilities.

Mia caught up with GWsports.com to talk about her impactful work and the sense of pride she feels by giving back to the city that she has lived in her whole life.

How did you get your internship?

Last summer, I worked for Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell who is the councilwoman for District 3 which consists of West Philadelphia, Southwest Philadelphia and University City. During my time I was able to meet other political figures representing the City of Philadelphia. During the spring semester I was able to get in contact with Charles Horton, the Executive Director of the Mayor's Commission on People With Disabilities, and discussed interning for him.

What is the main function of your job? What is a typical day for you?

The main function of my job is to work as an Administrative Assistant. I help the Executive Director/Accessibility Compliance Specialists/ADA (Americans Disability Act) Coordinator, Charles Horton, on daily tasks.

A typical day consists of answering phone calls and voicemails from constituents, helping them with concerns or information they are experiencing in their daily life in relation to people with disabilities.

Once I handle all calls, I usually respond to emails and send out information concerning housing, events, employment and ADA guidelines to people on our listserv. Then I typically update the commissions resource guide that has information in the city before sitting on the board for Reserved Residential Parking for People With Disabilities.

 

 

Once the Residential Parking Hearings are complete, which are conducted every Tuesday and Thursday, I have a short meeting with Mr. Horton going over different things I've learned or to discuss any questions I may have.

As a Philadelphia native - how impactful is it for you to do an internship within your community and make a direct impact on your city?

I think this internship was very impactful. Growing up as a kid from Philadelphia there were times where I would ride with my dad into the city to pick up my mom from work. She works downtown. We would always drive past the City Hall building and I would wonder what it looked like inside, or if I would one day work or intern for the city.

It is kind of crazy to realize how I was once this little girl admiring historical buildings like City Hall to now working in those buildings, meeting the Mayor of Philadelphia and hearing him thank me for all my hard work I have done for the city.

I think the internship allowed me to have the opportunity to give back to the city in different ways and to actually understand where residents were coming from with their concerns.

Do you have a memorable day, project or initiative from your time at the job that has left a lasting impression on you?

Almost everyday during my internship was a memorable experience because there was always something different to learn or to simply appreciate. The internship allowed me to think of life through a different perspective.

I was a part of three memorable projects throughout the summer.

During my first week of my internship, I started working on a Transition of Life Resource Guide for people with disabilities. The guide is to inform people about resources or to answer questions they may have for someone who has a disability. The Transition to Life guide ranged from early childhood to adulthood. This was a memorable project because I grew up with my aunt who is diagnosed with Autism. This project allowed me to expand on any questions or concerns regarding her disability I had while growing up or may still have today. The idea of the Resource Guide was to make it as realistic as possible and my personal experiences helped enhance the Resource Guide.

The second project that has proved to be memorable was working on the Disability Pride Flag Rising. In June (12-17th) the city of Philadelphia hosted a weeklong celebration about Disability Pride. On Monday, I was able to take part in the Disability Pride flag raising that was televised on local Philadelphia news stations. The Disability Pride flag was raised at City Hall and the Municipal Services Building all week.

The final project was easily the most hands-on and memorable. I was on the Philadelphia Residential Appeals board for Disabled Parking Hearing with the Executive Director of the Mayor’s Commission on People With Disabilities, the Philadelphia City Health Department, the Philadelphia Parking Authority and the Office of Administrative Review.

I usually represent the Mayor's Office with the Executive Director, or when he could not attend. I conducted intake assessments on Philadelphia residents and discussed whether the resident would either get approved or denied for handicap parking in front of their house. During the hearing the board would introduce themselves and then the person who is applying or being reviewed explains why the parking spot would help them live an independent life. Since Philadelphia is an extremely busy city, many people apply for handicap parking even though they may not necessarily need the spot. The idea of the hearings are to take their disability into consideration, understand their personal situations and determine if they truly needed it. This process allowed me to visually see the person's disabilities, hear their stories about their everyday difficulties.

Do you think politics or civic service is something you will pursue after graduation?

The field is something to consider as a possibility since I find it so interesting. The idea of learning about disabilities I may have known about or did not know about and understanding somebody's daily obstacles through their eyes. There were times during my lunch break I would think of how people with a certain disability had to maneuver around the city or just life in general. For example, a person with a wheelchair and how they have to make sure every building they enter has a ramp. Or figuring out how to go outside without being soaking wet if its raining to hard, or days after the rain has passed how to they may have to ride through puddles in order to get on the sidewalk.

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