Over more than forty years of activism, Rachel Ortiz worked to improve the lives of women and youth in San Diego and to organize and develop the Logan Heights community. Ortiz founded and serves as executive director of Barrio Station, a youth center in Barrio Logan where several successful after-school programs serve 2,500 girls and boys.
Early in Ortiz's community service career, she volunteered for the United Farm Workers in San Francisco and implemented a work furlough program with the San Quentin State Prison Pre-release Unit. Returning to San Diego, Ortiz and her colleagues developed the Barrio Station Project in 1970. She became executive director of Barrio Station and secured $250,000 for youth programs, including construction of the Barrio Youth Center. This Barrio Logan recreation center provides a variety of activities and services including sports, fitness, and performing arts; computer lab; swimming pool; a children's program; gang intervention counseling; and other support services.
In addition to her work with children and youth, Ortiz initiated numerous neighborhood revitalization and mobilization efforts, such as the clearance of neglected public lands, the removal of junkyards, new sidewalks, tree planting, housing rehabilitation, affordable housing units, and an updated elementary school. For her work in the community, Ortiz received an honorary degree from Southwestern College in 2004. Rachael Ortiz's life-long commitment to at-risk youth; her work to prevent drug use, juvenile crime, and incarceration; and her varied and successful community reclamation and development projects contributed to her acclamation as Activist.