Above all else, Rachel Arditi, 17, is passionate about helping others.
An Encino resident and senior at The Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles, Arditi loves to volunteer time with people of all ages and from all backgrounds. Whether someone needs food, support, social interaction or just a shoulder to lean on, she is there. “Helping is in my nature,” Arditi said. “It’s something I love to do, and it brings me so much joy to see the impact I can make on someone else.”
Arditi has been doing community service since elementary school. As a child, she would go with her mom to a SOVA food pantry and assist her in coordinating volunteers. She grew up with an aunt with special needs, so she has always “realized the importance of giving back to the community.”
Through her aunt, Arditi was inspired to work at two different organizations specializing in special needs: Best Buddies and OurSpace. Best Buddies is an international nonprofit devoted to children with special needs, and Arditi is now on the executive board of the organization for her school’s chapter and plans twice-monthly activities for children. In middle school, Arditi began participating in OurSpace at her synagogue, Valley Beth Shalom. The program provides activities and social outlets for adults, teens and kids with disabilities. The program’s director, Susan North Gilboa, said that when Arditi came in to volunteer, she “embraced it all. She really followed the lead and was able to be supportive of the individuals participating. She homed in on who needed her one-on-one attention.”
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At Archer, Arditi serves on the community service board and is in charge of planning dinners for Daybreak, a shelter for mentally disabled homeless women in Los Angeles. When Arditi stops by once a month, she runs the meals and makes art projects with the women. “When I go to the women’s shelter, they tell me that they now have homes and are living on their own.”
Even when Arditi is knitting, one of her favorite hobbies, she does it for a cause, making hats for premature babies with her knitting club at Archer. In her free time, she’s involved in United Synagogue Youth, where she’s on her chapter’s board and is in charge of elementary-school-age children.
Arditi said that when she gets to Pitzer College in Claremont in the fall, she’s going to make sure she has time to keep volunteering. One of her goals is to participate in AbilityFirst, an organization that helps children and adults with disabilities. “There are definitely a lot of opportunities for volunteer work at my college, and I’m really excited for that,” she said.
Arditi said that she wants to continue to work with people with special needs for the rest of her life: “I fell in love with that population,” she said. “Working with them has given me so much gratitude, and I’m able to value every moment of my life.”