At the age of 15, she has already found ways to focus her passions toward beneficiaries she can relate to and projects she enjoys.
For her Bat Mitzvah, she arranged an art auction, appropriately titled “Giving from the Heart through Art,” and donated all proceeds to Neve Michael, a Middle Eastern village for orphaned children. The 21 beneficiaries of this endeavor have become almost pen pals.
Brought up to think beyond herself, Ali has worked with her family at the Atlanta Community Food Bank and the Zaban Night Shelter. On her own, she has tutored ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) children, and this fall she’ll be teaching children’s Sunday school at her synagogue. She’s also excited to be starting work with the VOX newspaper: “I see that as a great way to use my interests in photography and in writing.”
Through her parents’ connection with The Community Foundation, Ali participated in Planet Philanthropy last year. “It’s a really good program. They bring all these kids together to talk about groups that we might want to give to. You know, matching our interests with organizations that can use our gifts. I was one of the leaders, and as we went along I gradually realized that I wanted to be involved with VOX.”
“It’s this newspaper that goes to teens, a lot of whom have lives that are harder than ours. VOX is published every month. We get to go downtown and work together in the offices. The paper is created by teens from all over the Atlanta area, very diverse. And it’s cool to get together with all these other teens and do something like that. Of course, it needs to have a lot of thought behind it and be well written and have good pictures. So, that’s a good chance for me to put my journalism skills to use.”
Ali was impressed not only by the quality of the newspaper, but also by its reach—it is read by some 80,000 teens. Given that 92% of these readers report making positive lifestyle changes or learning something new from reading VOX, its impact is undeniable. “At first, VOX seemed like a really indirect way to help other people, so I wasn’t immediately sure that it was what I wanted to spend my time on. I’m a visual person. I have to see something to understand how it benefits people. So, once I could see VOX then I could see how it helps.”
“I’m grateful to The Community Foundation for introducing me to VOX, and I plan to do Planet Philanthropy again. It was really fun, and it was a perfect way to learn about different charities.”
With wisdom and eloquence beyond her years, Ali sums up her experience this way: “Through my work with The Community Foundation, I am connected to myself and to the community as a whole.”