Livingston High School sophomore Rachel Katz may be only 15 years old, but her natural passion for brightening the lives of seniors says otherwise.
Katz is a committed volunteer at Daughters of Israel, the nursing, rehabilitation, and palliative care center in West Orange and a beneficiary agency of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ. Throughout the summer, Rachel has created her own programs at DOI, such as “Recipes and Reminiscing with Rachel,” in which she invites residents to share and cook traditional family recipes with her.
“Everyone at Daughters has a story, and they all have a past, and through participating in different programs I get to hear those stories,” said Rachel.
On Monday, Aug. 19, Rachel hosted the center’s first ever Summer Fashion Show. She recruited friends, family members, and DOI residents to model their favorite clothing and accessories for such categories as camp, sleepwear, and evenings out.
While the models displayed their smiles and outfits for the residents lined along the Franzblau Paver Patio, Rachel entertained the audience with quick, witty descriptions of the fashions.
As the models returned to the building to change their outfits, Cantor Sharon Knoller of Temple Beth Shalom in Livingston and pianist Masha Tyskov entertained residents with a repertoire of Jewish music, from Fiddler on the Roof songs to “Jerusalem of Gold.” Volunteers also served ice cream.
Rachel is “a great help with whatever we need extra hands for,” said activities director Rachel Block. “Having someone with the initiative and the thought is just wonderful because we don’t always have the time to plan out something like this.”
Block said the fashion show was a huge success, and that the residents “were beaming, they were just so excited.” Residents found it interesting to see how today’s fashions differ from when they were children and teenagers, she added.
“I hope it was a nice afternoon and a break and change for them,” said Rachel. “Even if I brighten up one of their days and remind them that there are still positive things to live for, then I will have accomplished my goal.”
Rachel’s dedication to the elderly was inspired by the time she spent with her late grandmother, Evelyn Roth, who was a resident at Daughters for a short period of time. Rachel enjoyed talking on the phone with her every day, going grocery shopping with her, and even accompanying her on visits to the doctor.
“I loved learning from her, and making her day a little easier, so if I could do that for others in the elder community, that’d be great. It’s something that I get a lot of enjoyment out of,” she said.
And with that Rachel’s proud grandfather, Robert Roth, a current DOI resident, presented her with a special gift of flowers.