Smith: Madeleine Craig is a local teen’s name, one we’re likely to hear again

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Days ago I lunched and spent the afternoon with 13 exceptional local high school seniors.

They wouldn’t remember me. I was one of the three grown-ups who judged a competition that ended with a surprise.

The occasion at the vets building in Santa Rosa was a speech contest by the 94-year-old Santa Rosa chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution.

The teens spoke, we judges judged, and the points were tallied. First prize was presented to a senior from Cardinal Newman High, Madeleine Craig.

As part of her unerringly memorized, moving and naturally flowing oration, Maddie mentioned that her mother Helen’s journey with serious illness prompted her three years ago to begin volunteering with the Ceres Community Project. You may know Ceres trains young people to prepare wholesome food for local people who struggle to become well.

With the speech contest concluded, DAR chapter leaders announced the local winner of a second honor for teens, the DAR Good Citizen Award. It was Madeleine Craig.

Finally came the naming of the student selected to receive the Good Citizen Award for the entire DAR district that stretches from San Francisco along the coast to Oregon: Madeleine Craig.

Maddie told me she was born 18 years ago in Santa Rosa, her family lives in Windsor and she intends to study political science in college.

Where might I learn more about this extraordinary young woman? I phoned the Ceres Project and spoke with the leadership team’s Deborah Ramelli, who didn’t know that Maddie had swept the DAR awards.

“I’m not surprised,” Ramelli said. “She’s a big-hearted, smart, poised, very giving person ... definitely a bright light.”

Beyond working in the Ceres kitchen in Santa Rosa, Maddie has made a school project of traveling to schools, telling the Ceres story and encouraging kids to consider volunteering.

As an intern to Ramelli, Maddie is working to bring in the volunteers that allow Ceres to meet its goal of increasing the number of meals served this year by 16 percent, to 120,000.

Ramelli said Maddie shines when she stands before a class and speaks about Ceres and its healing meals and aspirations.

“She’s got quite a way about her.”


JAMIE DeWOLF is coming to a Sonoma County stage for an evening of art-of-all-kinds and community dialogue that looks to be raw and revealing and real.

DeWolf is the Eureka native acclaimed as a slam poet and creator of the East Bay’s unhinged underground variety show, “Tourettes Without Regrets.”

DeWolf will be at the Spreckels Performing Arts Center in Rohnert Park on March 23 to host “ReVerberation.” It’s a showcase of art that conveys personal experience, from horror to joy, and will include visual art, music, dance, stories, poetry and workshops on writing and improv.

“ReVerberation” is a production of the nonprofit Fire Circle Theater, created by four friends who met years ago in the theater department at SRJC: Rush Cosgrove, Matt Cadigan, Kevin Bordi and Freddie Lambert.

For tickets or more details, see You might take note of an advisory that “the themes and language of the performances may be uncomfortable for some.”

You can reach Columnist Chris Smith at 707-521-5211 or

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