Allison Gras is an eighth grader at Cadda Middle Magnet School in Shreveport Louisiana. Caddo Middle Magnet is, and has been for a number of years, the number one middle school in Louisiana. While maintaining her place on the honor roll, Allison has been volunteering at the Irving Place Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (now known as Nursecare Long Term Care and Rehabilitaion Center) since early 2004.
"My mother was an employee there and always talked about how much she loved interacting with the elderly." said Allison, "I wanted to experience it for myself." So, at eleven years old, she went to work with her mother. "I've loved it ever since," she said. Allison gets up at 5:00am on school holidays and during her summer vacations to volunteer at the center. She serves food to the residents, feeds those who cannot feed themselves, and transports patients to and from their rooms. She also reads to them, writes letters for them, takes them on walks, and coordinates activities such as bingo, board games, crossword puzzles, and craft projects. Even though her mother has changed employment, Allison continues to volunteer at the center. "Most of all, I play the role of one other person to love them," said Allison.
When Katrina so brutally struck Louisiana many residents were evacuated north to Shreveport's many shelters. Allison spent many hours helping the evacuees. She went to a local restaurant that volunteered it's kitchen to a local Mardi Gras krewe, the Krewe of Centaur. There she helped prepare meals for over 2000 people. She also spent time with the young children displaced to the shelter.
Most recently she worked with a local church taking young children on haunted hayrides during Halloween.
Allison is eager to help in any way she can. She is a member of the Louisiana Club, Too Club, and G.A.L.S.(Give A Little Service) Club at Caddo Middle Magnet. Each of these clubs is a community service oriented club. Allison is also a student office worker, and a member of TAPs (Talented Arts Program) in drama.
In February 2006 Allison was selected as the middle school winner for the state of Louisiana of The Prudential Spirit of Community Award. One middle schooler and one high schooler from each state is selected. The awards program, now in its 11th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). As a State Honoree she received $1,000, an engraved silver medallion, and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., where she joined the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for several days of national recognition events. They also spent time distributing books and reading to inner city elementary school children in Washington, as well as an audience with her state representatives.