On the refrigerator in Sarah Gilbert’s home in Jamestown, hangs a message from a fortune cookie, “Fate loves the fearless.” After years away, several career changes, three states and a chance of fate, Gilbert has returned to her hometown for her next great adventure.
A graduate of Jamestown High School, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Wellesley College.
“Wellesley’s motto is not to be served, but to serve,” Gilbert said. “That is something I have always tried to focus on.”
Following graduation, Gilbert spent the next 15 years working in a nursing home with individuals suffering from dementia.
“My (high school years) started my understanding of civic responsibility and my time at Wellesley strengthened that I had a responsibility to help people,” Gilbert said. “Instead of just volunteering on the side, I made (helping others) a career.”
As Gilbert worked her way from caring for others, to the administrative side of things, she returned to Jamestown to perfect her grant writing skills for the Chautauqua County Health Network. Today, she is the Grant Writer for the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation.
“I am so proud of this area and everything we are working towards,” Gilbert said. “As part of my job at JRC, I see, every day, the good that people are doing and it is truly inspiring.”
One of those individuals who inspires Gilbert is her landlord, Steve Pacheco.
Although Pacheco does not own many of the homes in Gilbert’s southside neighborhood, she explains that he helps neighbors shovel sidewalks in the winter, mows lawns in the summer and even checks in on some of the elderly residents.
“Steve is a great example I know by name, but I know it is happening everywhere,” Gilbert said. “Sometimes you need to go somewhere else to see how good things are here.”
This is part of a series focusing on local residents who have received scholarships from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation.