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Finding the Right Fit

All her life, Raquel has been inspired and motivated to make a difference. Her story of giving back follows a line of passionate, change-making women. Her mother [MOU1] first ENGAGED Raquel in opportunities to make a difference in her community in New York, just as she had learned to do from her own mother. “We always say how it’s just in our genes to be charitable,” says Raquel.

Describing herself as a “purposeful” person—even as a child someone with “a special kind of passion and a very specific drive”—Raquel says she was sometimes called a dreamer. But through Roots & Shoots, she realized she wasn’t alone in her passion for driving change. What some might call a dream, her peers in Roots & Shoots would call a goal worth working toward. When Raquel discovered the program, “the puzzle piece came into play, the light bulb went on.”

“Through Roots & Shoots I have made lifelong friends,” she says. “We all come from very different backgrounds, we’re all different races, all have different upbringings. If it wasn’t for Roots & Shoots, we wouldn’t have been friends. Our paths wouldn’t have crossed otherwise.”

What unites these young leaders is passion: “We all have that fire burning in our heart that keeps us connected more than any other type of friend. It really built an everlasting connection between some genuine people and me.”

The click was for the first time feeling whole and like I was standing in the right shoes. You know, it’s like I was wearing a size nine this whole time, but in reality I’m a size Roots & Shoots .

Raquel I. Roots & Shoots Member
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Raquel first joined Roots & Shoots in seventh grade. “I was your average nerdy little kid … the kid wearing a velour sweatsuit in middle school,” she says.

She OBSERVED the huge impact one project, in particular, had on the community: a Thanksgiving food drive. When Raquel formed her own Roots & Shoots group in high school, her group took ACTION and took the food drive to a new level. Of the many projects she did during her more than nine years in the program, this one was her favorite. Her group collaborated with social services in their community to make the biggest difference for those who needed it most, and they MEASURED their impact, delivering Thanksgiving meals to over 250 families each year.

“It was always amazing to see how many community members were eager to help,” she says. “This was, guaranteed, always a project people were excited to get involved in.”

Everyone can make a difference.

If Raquel’s activism inspires you, find out how you can design your own projects in your community.

Today, Raquel lives in Chicago and works in sales, in this way following in her father’s footsteps. Her goal is to continue working to make a difference in her everyday life because being an advocate is part of who she is. “Even when I’m having a bad day, I have the power and strength within me to make someone’s day better,” she says.

Raquel credits Roots & Shoots with her professional success, in no uncertain terms: “Roots & Shoots is the reason why I have a job. It’s probably the best thing I have on my resume. And although it’s work from high school, I’ve had so many recruiters tell me never to take that off my resume.”

She feels confident in management, leadership, and networking because she learned and practiced these skills again and again through the service projects she organized with her peers.

She learned to work with all different types of people and how to present her ideas effectively through public speaking opportunities. “It is the reason why I have my TED Talk, the reason why I’ve spoken at the United Nations,” she says.

Roots & Shoots helped me realize the power I have within and let that shine through. It really is the reason why I am who I am.

Raquel I. Roots & Shoots Member
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