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More than a second lady: How Gisele Fetterman came to serve Pennsylvania's neediest

October 13, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

To call Gisele Barreto Fetterman a second lady alone is reductive. A former undocumented immigrant who became a citizen and used her platform to help all manner of Pennsylvanians, she is far more than a figurehead or a lieutenant governor's spouse.

John Fetterman married, she told CNN.

"So even though I'm 38 and I'm second lady and I have a family and career, I was immediately again a scared 9-year-old undocumented little girl at that grocery line," she said of Sunday's encounter.

She always found attachment to discarded things, Fetterman told CNN, explaining she Dumpster dived as a young immigrant, and most of her family's furniture in New York "came from bulk garbage day. " She felt Braddock had contributed immensely to the country, "including my bridge," only to be more or less discarded after the decline in Pennsylvania's steel industry.

The Braddock store alone serves 1,600 families a month, she said.

The Pittsburgh City Paper cited both the Free Store and 412 Food Rescue in naming Fetterman 2017's best activist.

Fetterman told Pittsburgh magazine this year that it was "not appropriate" to live in a taxpayer-funded mansion with staff.

As a result, the property's 30-by-40-foot swimming pool was going unused, so Gisele Fetterman opened it up to non-profits and summer camps and instituted a program to teach water safety because federal statistics show African American children have a 3 times greater risk of drowning than do White children.

After an East Pittsburgh police officer fatally shot Antwon Rose during a 2018 traffic stop, Fetterman revealed that the "very goofy" 17-year-old volunteered at Free Store 15104 and appeared in one of her husband's campaign commercials.

Fetterman still keeps Antwon's memory alive: "We have a big portrait at the Free Store that hangs there at all times in his honor," she told CNN.

For Good PGH, which Fetterman co-founded, drives numerous initiatives in the Braddock community.

The Fettermans submitted a joint op-ed to several newspapers in August, recounting how Gisele "and her family lived in constant fear that they would be discovered and lose their shot at the American Dream. "

In a 2019 editorial for the Tribune-Review, Gisele Fetterman, a Dreamer herself, wrote that she'll always be grateful for her mother's courage and how she took jobs cleaning houses and checking coats to support her family.

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