Gabriella Contreras

Daily Point of Light # 1123 May 25, 1998

Gabriella Contreras is a sixth grade student at Roskruge Bilingual Magnet School, who has been volunteering her talents and energy since third grade. Roskruge Bilingual Magnet School is across the street from a local high school. At the age of seven, Gabriella became aware of drug dealings and gang violence at the high school. When the high school had a student riot in 1996, Gabriella had seen enough. She and her friends organized a peace march and countered the violence, shouting, "Hugs not drugs!" and "Stop the violence!" Gabriella continued her quest for a peaceful, drug free school and community by founding Club Be Alert Don't Do Drugs (B.A.D.D.D.).

Club B.A.D.D.D., originally intended to keep kids away from drugs, has blossomed into a program that also encourages community service. The 65 students who make up Club B.A.D.D.D. pack food for the community food bank, and organize community food drives. They also sort clothes for Tucson Unified School District's Clothing Bank. The club also makes students aware that they can do positive things with their spare time, instead of the things that may get them in trouble.

Through the positive messages Gabriella conveys to the other students, there are fewer problems on the playground during school time and after school. These kids now have another option in the use of their free time, all because of Gabriella's example. Gabriella's motivation is not personal gain, but for the good she can do for others when she helps meet their needs.

Club B.A.D.D.D. has been so successful that it is being duplicated in eight other Tucson schools. The club receives funding several ways: through donations from businesses, fund-raisers, and most of all, from grants. The biggest grants, $1,000 and $5,000, came from winning JC Penny's Crystal Apple, both locally and nationally.

Even with the success of Club B.A.D.D.D., Gabriella's favorite service is playing her violin for the elderly. Since the age of five she has been visiting senior citizen homes to play her violin, sing or read. Also, in 1995, she helped sell t-shirts for Arizona Unites Heartland Benefit, which assisted the Oklahoma City Bombing victims. To promote Earth Day 1995, she posted and distributed flyers in schools and local children's shops.

Gabriella's Club B.A.D.D.D. motto reflects her perception of service: "Even as kids we can make a difference, at home, in the neighborhood, in the school, and in the community!"