Alanis Craig named first Star 99.1 CAFY Young Citizen Award for Huntsville-Madison County'Volunteering made me realize, as a person, that there is so much we can do for each other' -- Alanis CraigAlanis Craig, a senior at Bob Jones High School in Madison, Ala., is the first winner of the Star 99.1 CAFY Young Citizen Award sponsored by the radio station, the Huntsville Police Department and other organizations and businesses. Craig volunteers at many places, including Hospice Family Care's Caring House and as a leader of the United Way Youth Council. (Courtesy / Huntsville Police Department)
MADISON, Alabama - Sure, Alanis Craig's mom died in a car accident when she herself was just 8 years old, but Alanis Craig, now a senior at Bob Jones High School, was sure as a kid that she could handle it on her own.
Alanis and her brother, then just 1, moved from Texas, where they had lived with her mother before the accident, to Huntsville to live with their mother's mother, Lillian Strickland. The grandmother took the children to the Caring House, a place for people to meet with others for group or individual conversations after bereavement that's operated by .
"I didn't want to go, frankly," said Alanis Craig, who is being named the first Star 99.1 CAFY Young Citizen today, Jan. 9, 2014, at the Huntsville City Council meeting because of her volunteer work at Caring House and United Way. "As a child, I was convinced that I was perfectly fine. I thought the people there would try to make me talk - but they were so loving, so kind. If I wanted to talk, I could, but I didn't have to."
Craig brings her understanding of the needs of children in grief and her gratitude to the workers and volunteers at Caring House to her volunteer work at Caring House. The volunteering, she said, is something that began when she was just 9 years old, thanks to Kelsia Smith, who worked at Caring House.
"She got me started," Alanis said. "She pulled me aside one day and asked if I wanted to come to orientation so that I could help the newcomers."
Recognizing youth in the community who are already leading the way in community service is why , and Star 99.1 FM have partnered with Huntsville and Madison County Schools, the Huntsville Police Department, Huntsville's Office of Multicultural Affairs, Huntsville's Human Relations Commission and DynAviation to recognize one young person in grades seven through 12 each month who are an example of outstanding community service.
A Young Citizen of the Year, chosen from the monthly winners, will be announced each August at the organized by CAFY.
"CAFY is about informing and inspiring young folks to be good, productive citizens," said and information officer for the Huntsville Police Department. "So the Young Citizen of the month award continues to stress to our youth that we care about their accomplishments and about the positive impact they have in our community. Alanis is the perfect example of youth giving back already and setting example for other youth to follow."
Alanis herself, who is pleased about the award, is also surprised to be chosen and particularly surprised to be the first one.
"There are so many people in the community who do so much," Alanis said. "I knew that I was being nominated, but when I heard that I'd won, it was, like, 'Wow!'"
In addition to her volunteer work at Caring House, Alanis is the president of the and organizes their fund raisers. During the summertime, she also volunteers in the community gardens planted by CASA, at the Boys Girls Club, at Santa's Village, Panoply, the Senior Center, the Downtown Rescue Mission and the nursery at her church, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.
"Alanis is the most dependable, conscientious, young volunteer I've ever had the privilege to work with," said Sue Cheek, who works at Caring House, in her nomination statement.
But Alanis herself prefers to direct attention away from herself and to the joy that her volunteer work brings her.
"It's never a chore to go to those places," Alanis said. "I like to give back - and children need us as much as we need them. Besides, it's made me a better person and taught me leadership skills. It's made me realize, as a person, that there is so much we can do for each other."
at or by calling Dr. Harry Hobbs, director of CAFY, at 256-425-5307.
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