An American Idol winner became the newest member of the Newtown community working to promote kindness and charitable efforts in the aftermath of tragedy.
The 12.14 Foundation in Connecticut selected Scotty McCreery on Monday as its first “national goodwill ambassador.” The 20-year-old American country singer won the 10th season of American Idol in May 2011.
“This is definitely one of those things that I believe is why I’m here. I believe that it’s not just about making music and trying to sell as many records as you can,” McCreery told msnbc. “I’m honored to be a part of this whole 12.14 Foundation.”
The town’s residents urged fellow citizens to complete acts of kindness around their communities in the week leading up to the one-year mark of the event on Dec. 14, 2013. Additionally, some individuals established volunteer groups to heal and overcome negativity.
Dr. Michael Baroody, a plastic surgeon and eight-year resident of Newtown, established the 12.14 Foundation last February. Baroody and his team aim to use music and dance to empower all people, especially children who were affected by the incident. They hope to build a Newtown center for creativity and education within five years.
McCreery, whose 2011 debut album was certified platinum in the United States, said he had an “eye-opening experience” when he met privately with Newtown families last December. He said his main goal in the new role is to ensure the town’s children can use the performing arts as a way of healing.
McCreery is excited to “see the smiles and the good times it brings these folks of Newtown because they have gone through so much,” he said.
“He is a great example of somebody who young people can aspire to. His winning of American Idol was a tremendous accomplishment,” Jay Winuk, a member of the foundation’s board of directors, told msnbc. “He is someone who has great values, someone who not only cares about music in his career but really cares about community and doing the right thing.”
With support from Broadway professionals, the nonprofit organization worked with more than 100 children last year to produce four sold-out performances of “Seussical: The Musical in Newtown.” Members are in the planning stages for a 2014 summer play.
McCreery said he would be willing to perform at the center after its eventual opening.
“We want to be able to convey the diversity of the performing arts and how that interplays with our mission and our goal,” Winuk said. “Scotty is a great first ambassador for us, but I think that over time we will probably add others.”