The Boys & Girls Club of Craig will honor its chosen people of the year at tonight’s Cowboy Christmas fundraiser. Front row from left, are Goldie Arroyo, Nikki Webber, Paul Pinkham and Carina Meza. Back row from left, are Joe Arroyo, state Sen. Al White, Dave Lyons, Joe Bird, John Knoche and Scott Cook.

Photo by Shawn McHugh

The Boys & Girls Club of Craig will honor its chosen people of the year at tonight’s Cowboy Christmas fundraiser. Front row from left, are Goldie Arroyo, Nikki Webber, Paul Pinkham and Carina Meza. Back row from left, are Joe Arroyo, state Sen. Al White, Dave Lyons, Joe Bird, John Knoche and Scott Cook.

Boys & Girls Club of Craig honors people of the year at fundraiser

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In difficult economic times, some members of the community still found the time in their schedules and the desire in their hearts to give back to Craig children. Several people stood out to the Boys & Girls Club of Craig as outstanding contributors to the program’s vitality.

At tonight’s Cowboy Christmas fundraiser, the club will honor its Person of the Year, Business of the Year, Youth of the Year and Volunteers of the Year.

Those winners are listed below.

In a place to help

• Cook Chevrolet named Business of the Year

Scott Cook and people who work at Cook Chevrolet want to make sure the boys and girls of Moffat County have a place to go — a place that can help them grow into confident, mature adults.

The Boys & Girls Club of Craig can be that place, Cook said.

“These are tough times anymore,” he said. “Most any family, the husband and wife both have to work to make ends meet. The Boys & Girls Club gives their kids a place to go and be safe.”

With a strong belief in what the club can accomplish in the lives of children, Cook said he was glad to be able to support it throughout the year and that he is honored Cook Chevrolet was named its Business of the Year in 2009.

Cook is the father of two children, a third-grader and a fourth-grader. He was at a loss of where to start in describing what worldly influences he’s afraid of getting a hold of them.

“There’s just a lot of bad influences, the whole meth, drugs, alcohol,” Cook said. “Unfortunately, there are more bad influences than good influences.”

He added he is thankful the Boys & Girls Club is around to counteract some of the more treacherous paths in life.

“The people who run the Boys & Girls Club are good influences on children,” Cook said. “They influence them in the right way. They’ve got computers to learn on, they tutor some, they let them run around and be kids together.

“The Boys & Girls Club is way more than a baby-sitter.”

Although Cook said his wife cares for their children most of the time, friends of his and some of his staff who regularly use the club say they appreciate the care that the club’s staff puts toward the children.

The club has changed the community in some ways since it opened about five years ago, too, Cook added.

Whereas it was once common to see groups of kids with nothing to do on a hot summer afternoon wandering town and getting into trouble, many of them are now together at the Boys & Girls Club.

For all those reasons, Cook said he was glad to be able to support the club any way he can, but he’s most thankful for the staff and customers who make it possible for Cook Chevrolet to help.

“Without them, we wouldn’t be able to support anything,” he said.

— Written by Collin Smith

Leaders of tomorrow

• State Sen. Al White named Person of the Year

State Sen. Al White, R-Hayden, splits his time between Denver and Northwest Colorado. In Craig and Denver, he sees the effect that the Boys & Girls Clubs have on Colorado youths.

“I see how that involvement keeps these kids from heading in less desirable directions,” he said. “It’s so important to have something positive to involve themselves in.”

White was named Person of the Year by the Boys & Girls Club of Craig, and will be awarded the honor at tonight’s Cowboy Christmas fundraiser.

He said he was proud to be recognized for his support.

“It’s great that the Boys & Girls Club have decided my support is worthy of recognition,” he said. “And I certainly support what they do. Earlier, Dana (Duran) was talking about a new literacy room. Now you have the Boys & Girls Club acting as a complement to the Moffat County schools.”

White has been a longtime proponent of kindergarten through 12th grade and higher education through his tenure on the Education Committee and his position on the Joint Budget Committee.

He said programs like the Boys & Girls Club give children a positive and energetic environment to drive them to go above and beyond.

“It gives them direction and leadership,” he said. “A lot of kids turn into these very leaders that taught them.”

— Written by Nicole Inglis

A star with heart

• MCHS junior honored as Youth of the Year

When Carina Meza was 15, her parents divorced and she went looking for a job.

“At that time, my parents split up and (my mother) didn’t have the money to give me,” Meza said. “I told my mother I want a job. I went looking all over town, but they said, ‘You have to be 16. You have to be 16.’”

Sometimes, though, hardship can funnel a person toward opportunity.

Meza found what she called “a great place to be” at the Boys & Girls Club of Craig, where she has worked for close to 2 1/2 years.

Now 17 years old and a junior at Moffat County High School, Meza said she has no plans to leave.

“It’s always been my dream, when I grow up, to be a teacher,” she said. “I get to be around the kids, and get to know them and try to help them.”

Dana Duran, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Colorado, said Meza is one of the best employees she has ever had.

Fitting, since Meza was named the Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year.

“She’s a star,” Duran said. “She relates really well to kids, and I think it’s because of her heart. She cares. She spends the time to really get to know the kids, what’s going on in their lives, how she can help them.”

Meza also has the work ethic of someone beyond her years, Duran said.

“Carina’s a natural leader,” she said. “Carina sees what needs to be done, and she does it. She never settles.”

Meza said she was shocked to hear she won the honor. She had never won anything before.

“I was proud of myself, too, though, because I knew I put in the work,” Meza said.

Tending to children always came naturally, she added, because that’s been her job for most of her life. It’s kept her active, engaged and played a role in shaping her work ethic, so appreciated by her boss.

“Since I was 12, I was always taking care of my little cousins,” Meza said. “I never had a computer until last year. There was nothing to do, so I was always trying to be outside with them, jumping on the trampoline or doing something else.”

After high school, Meza said she hopes to attend college, possibly Regis University in Denver or Mesa State College in Grand Junction.

Then, her plan is to be a preschool teacher because she likes “the little ones.”

That still is a little ways off, though. For now, her eyes are set on educating herself, even if she has mixed feelings about leaving home and her mother.

“It’s going to be hard to be away from her and to stay away for that long,” Meza said.

— Written by Collin Smith

Community giving back

• Goldie and Joe Arroyo named volunteers of the year

At least once a year, Goldie and Joe Arroyo try to make it back to their hometown of Craig.

Dana Duran, executive director, always gives the couple a tour of the Boys & Girls Club of Craig, so they can see any changes in the facility they have worked so hard to support throughout the years.

“What always amazes me is seeing the kids grow up,” she said. “I was just talking to (Ann) Dodd, and I used to have her kids at Sunset and now they’re off in college.”

For more than 30 years, the couple lived and worked in Craig. Goldie Arroyo was a secretary at Sunset Elementary School and Joe Arroyo worked at Peabody Coal.

Since they retired to Craig, their support for the Boys & Girls Club of Craig has not waned.

“We’ve always been interested in the youth of Moffat County,” Goldie Arroyo said. “We have two daughters, and we’ve always been interested in making sure kids had what they needed.”

Seven years ago, Joe Arroyo started the Arroyo Golf Tournament, and decided the Boys & Girls Club would be the best place to donate the money raised.

“We wanted the community to be involved in something that continues education,” Goldie Arroyo said. “This is a community giving back to their own youth.”

As for being named Volunteers of the Year by the Boys & Girls Club, Joe Arroyo passed off the honor onto the community that help them support the program.

“We’re not volunteers,” he said. “It’s all the people that donated the door prizes and play in the golf tournament. Those are the ones that should be commended.”

— Written by Nicole Inglis

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