I have known Craig Yackel since he was a little boy riding up and down the street I lived on with his bicycle. He was a nice and polite kid, and those are two qualities about him that have not changed. When I decided to write a post about Craig, I thought that writing about would be easy for me seeing as I have known him for so long. I realized I was wrong the moment I tried to start to writing the post.
Well, Craig is one of the nicest people that I know. He is always there for the people he cares about. He is also just kind in general. If there is something that he can do to help out his fellow man, he will do his best to do what he can. That is just the type of person that he is. Craig has seen his share of adversity in his life, but he has not let it change the person that he is. He has remained generous and kind, always giving of himself.
The more I tried to start writing about this wonderful person, the harder it was to start writing about him. I mean I really did not know where to begin. So I decided to seek help. I decided to go to those who knew him the best, his family and friends. I, of course, received some good responses. I knew that I would. I thought to myself that this was great. The post should just write itself. Then it finally hit me. I decided to let those who love and know Craig best tell you about him.
First, I will share with you what Craig shared with me in conversation. It will let you get to know him a little.
Craig is from my hometown of Louise, Texas. He is one of five siblings, two of which he grew up with, Chris and Chelsea. They are very close, which is heartwarming to see. They are a family that is always there for each other. They really have each other's backs. I love that about them.
Craig opened up to me that his dream has always been to just make a difference in people's lives. In my opinion, he always has done just that. Having that dream is what motivated him to go to work for All Little Things Count. A friend who worked at the company asked him to apply. She thought he would be a good fit for the position. Craig has always wanted to work with special needs. "So I gave it a shot and started doing what I love to do." Not many can say that they are good at their job and love to do their job at the same time.
It was while working at All Little Things Count that Craig met and became close with special needs client Michael. Though he was not part of the plan that Craig had for his life, Michael has had a profound effect on Craig's life. "Michael was not, at the time, part of the plan; however, once I heard becoming a foster care companion was an option, I jumped at the chance." Craig did not realize at the time how much he was inviting into his life. "I had no clue how much my life would change and how much I was about to change someone else's life. Then I met him (Michael)."
It's obvious that Craig thinks the world of Michael. "He's so wonderful and kindhearted, the sweetest guy you'll ever meet, and I'm glad to be called his 'foster dad'." I truly believe he and I both gave one another some true meaning in life." Craig isn't Michael's first placement, but it looks as if he may be his last. "He has been in over twenty placements over the years. So far I am the latest and longest placement. February 9, 2017 will mark nine years that I have been caring for him." Craig has learned more about himself through caring for Michael. "He has taught me more than I could have ever imagined anyone could. He has taught me that I have a purpose in life and that I can love unconditionally. I don't think I've ever loved another human being as much as I love and care for him."
Craig has not been alone in going after and living his dream. He has had plenty of support along the way. "Oh yes! Without them, I wouldn't be able to do this on my own. They help me tremendously...even if they don't know it."
Craig truly appreciates his friends and family. He cares about and loves them all. Loving and caring are in Craig's nature. Good friend, Destiny Sless, confirmed this when she was asked to describe Craig. She described him as being "loving and caring". She said that Craig is "the type that will give you the shirt off his back."
Craig's younger sister, Chelsea Thomas (Yackel), agrees. When asked to described her brother, she had this to say. "He's an amazing person. He's not only my brother, but he's truly my best friend and one of my biggest supporters. He loves his friends and family more than anything and is always someone you can rely on no matter what. He'd give you his last dollar and the shirt off his back if you needed it. He has the best heart and is one of the funniest people you meet. When you're down, he'll do his absolute best to try and bring you up. I love him so much, and he deserves nothing short of the best."
Craig's friends are in agreement. Mike Drozd, Jr., another close friend of his, believes Craig to be the "most caring person I've ever met," and someone who "would do anything for anybody." He also adds that, "he's come to my aide multiple times in my life." As for being a "foster dad", Drozd feels that "the way he takes care of Mike (Michael) is like none other." Drozd ends by saying, "The world would be a better place if we had more Craigs. He's funny, too. He can act crazy to make a person laugh. Probably the best human being I've ever met."
Craig's friends truly love him, which Shannon Marie Courville makes abundantly clear.
"I've always known Craig's family. My sister started babysitting him when he was about 3 years old. When I was old enough, I started watching him. He was the sweetest, kindest young man. He would crawl in my lap and let me rock him to sleep. You could feel the love and safety he felt. After several years, he came back into my life, an adult now, as a friend. Craig is someome everyone needs. He has never judged, doubted, or had a bad word to say about anyone. I consider him one of my truest and best friends. If I had to call him at 3 I'm the morning, he would be there for me. I have cried to him. He has made me laugh. We have been on vacations together. I often think about 'how does he do it?'. Working with special needs clients all day long, then (he) goes home to Michael, and is the best thing that has ever happened to Michael. He's a role model,a best friend, and a father figure for that young man. Within the past couple of years, Craig reunited Michael with his two siblings (which live in the Dallas area). It takes one of God's angels to be the person he is,and I am blessed to call him my friend."
As for me, I have always considered Craig to be an amazing person. He is out there making it happen not only for himself but for others, too. He greets you with a smile that brightens you day. His warm hugs make the day better because you can feel the genuine love behind it. Last year after my house caught fire, he was there that very night. I didn't have to call him either. He called me to check if I was okay and to see if there was anything he could do to help.
I agree that he is one of the best human beings that you will ever meet. He has dedicated himself to his family and friends. He is living his dream and making the biggest difference in a young man's life. Michael is a kind and friendly person who is a joy to be around. This, of course, can be attributed to the positive influence of his father figure, Craig Yackel. I truly hope to have the pleasure of Craig's friendship for years to come.