Anticipating Atlanta

BY Dexter McCree, Feature Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — The first trip that Jessica Gamble took to Atlanta was a fun-filled excursion with her Southside Fundamental Middle School choir. She still has fond memories of that weekend with her school friends laughing and playing without a care in the world.

The trip to Atlanta was extra special for the choir students since they won first place in the middle school competition. Gamble, a recent graduate of the University of South Florida, remembers her and her choral comrades believing at that time that the trip to Atlanta had to have been a pretty important trip.

Their youthful conclusion was derived because they took a chartered bus with restrooms. I guess that does beat riding a yellow school bus.

Now, Gamble is preparing to return to Atlanta, but this time it’s not for a visit. She has been hired as the assistant manager of Environmental Services at Northside Hospital.

Going back to that first visit with her middle school, one thing that came along with the chartered bus was a driver. This trip, she’ll be behind the wheel, and that thought is causing some anxiety.

“I went to Atlanta a few weeks ago to start getting situated for the transition and I drove. It was a scary trip. It was the worst ride of my life,” said Gamble, explaining that night driving impaired her vision and the steep hills and wildlife in road didn’t help either.

She received the job offered back in September but had yet to graduate from USF, and she still had school and organization obligations.

Apprehensive about moving to such a large metropolis as Atlanta, she sought guidance from her mom and Pastor Shawn Thomas, youth pastor at Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church.

Thomas gave assured her that Atlanta was not too big and that she could accomplish anything she put her mind to.

“Initially I was very excited for her and then I wondered, ‘Have I prepared her for such a move,’” her mom, Patty Gamble, asked herself.  “I knew she needed to go because it will be a growth opportunity, and she’ll gain more knowledge about life. As her mother, I love her and want to hold on to her. As a parent, who is obligated to God, I’m to train her and let her go.”

Gamble has a lot of work to do before settling into her new digs. There’s the cable, water, lights and basic necessitates.

She already has in mind a bill payment schedule and arrangement of her furniture. When she picks up her furniture, she’ll also pick up furniture for Delilah, a very privileged cat who gets furniture, a new litter box and comforter set.

Being a devout Christian, she will then set out to find a church in the Atlanta area. She has a few in mind, but made it clear that Mt. Zion Progressive is her home.

“It is important to have fellowship with God,” Gamble said, adding that life has hard lessons that are made easier when you are secure in your faith, worship God and have fellowship with people of like faith.

When Jessica gets settles in, she is going to test out driving in Atlanta to become familiar with the area. She plans to make it enjoyable by taking herself on a restaurant tour to try out the different eateries.

She anticipates two of her first stops to be The Juicy Crab and The Atlanta Brunch Club, deemed to have the best breakfast food in the area.

“I know she is prepared. Our children can appreciate home better from afar,” said Patty. “When we raise our children, it’s for them to go out and experience God’s creation in other parts of the world.”

Blessed to have a child that didn’t give her an ounce of trouble, her mom is excited for her to meet interesting people and have exciting new experiences.  Her mom is not worried about her baby girl because there is family in the area and she knows Jessica is rooted in Christ.

Life is about to present a whole new experience for Jessica, a soror of the Sigma Gamma Rho, Theta Upsilon Chapter, she plans to waste no time letting her sisters know she’s in town.

To reach Dexter McCree, email

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