By: Teresa Valdepeñas, Communications & Impact Manager
ROCKLAND – In true Trekkers form, the interview with Evelyn Isom began with a “Would You Rather” question. “Would you rather show up chronically underdressed or overdressed?” I asked, to which Isom replied “underdressed, definitely. I never like to be overdressed. I just feel better in minimal clothing.”
In fact, Isom says, she travels with only a carry-on and tells her husband Gerry, “I don’t care how long we go, unless it’s for a year, we take a carry-on.” She’s even been pulled on stage spontaneously once by her late husband, Edward, during a presentation he was giving before a thousand people, to teach others how to travel with just a carry-on. Coincidently, paring down luggage and choosing camping equipment are skills that require organizing, planning, and envisioning possibilities – skills that Trekkers students learn before embarking on expeditions, skills that make the incredible experiences and accomplishments like those Ms. Isom then began to share possible.
With a really “long and wonderful” history in education and youth development, Isom’s background includes a PHD in History from University of Pennsylvania, a Masters in English from Villanova University, and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Non-Fiction from Bennington College. She’s taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Community College of Philadelphia, and Temple University, a semester of which was in Tokyo, Japan. In the past, she was also involved in the United States Holocaust Memorial Council with her late husband, and remembers many trips to concentration camps in Western and Eastern Europe, at times bringing survivors along – a “tough but rewarding” experience.
She helped build the nonprofit, Philadelphia Young Playwrights, from scratch and acted as President for 10 years. “It started with an idea,” she recalls, “between myself and two other women and it just grew and grew and grew from there.” This organization, through bringing the power of playwriting to young people, “teaches them to express themselves, and does something that Trekkers does – gives them the feeling that they can do something, that their lives mean something.” Isom talked of her personal connections with students, which paralleled stories she’d heard at Trekkers. “You save lots of lives at Trekkers. As an educator, I did save on person’s life…and as the saying goes, [she paraphrases a quote from the Hebrew Talmud,] ‘Whoever saves a life, it is as if she saved the world.’”
Trekkers is honored and thrilled to have such a dedicated, experienced mentor and visionary join its Board of Directors. She is excited to see how Trekkers can grow and join a team that makes a positive impact on the community.