Meet Craig Benoit: Family School Navigator, Herkimer

Meet Craig!  

Craig began his career with United Way MV in January 2020 as a Family School Navigator for Herkimer school district, as part of United Ways R4K (Ready for Kindergarten) Initiative. Before he began his career at United Way, he received his B.S. in Social Work from SUNY Plattsburgh, and has since spent 15 years working in nonprofit and government agencies in the social work field. Craig’s favorite part about his career is “working with families and being employed by an agency that cares about so many worthy causes. It's definitely something to be proud of!”

United Way is a leading problem solver, innovator, and connector in the Mohawk Valley. Craig considers himself a “connector”, as he “really enjoyed handing out food to the community during the summer. It gave me the opportunity to connect with the people of the village of Herkimer. I was able to meet a culturally and economically diverse population. All people require the same things such as food, shelter, water, and above all compassion. During these uncertain and difficult times, a conversation on the street with a nice meal for you and your kids goes a long way.” 

When asked why he likes to work for United Way, Craig says “Since my first day it was obvious to me that United Way MV was a special place to work. All of the employees genuinely enjoy each other’s company, appreciate each other’s strengths, and rally around each other when needed.” Craig’s relationship with the Herkimer community is growing by the day and his favorite project to work on thus far has been developing rapport with families and finding his way with staff and students at Herkimer Elementary School. 

While Craig isn’t working, he and his wife are diligently taking care of their large and diverse family. They have been providing foster care for almost ten years! They currently have 16 children and counting (5 biological, 3 foster children, and 8 adopted, 12 of which live at home). They also have 8 dogs, a miniature horse, two pigs, and about 40 chickens and ducks! Something positive that has come out of 2020 for Craig and his family are that they’ve grown closer, learned more about each other and become better prepared for their future. 

Some fun facts about Craig are: 

  • His favorite pizza is from Ina’s in Dolgeville, with pepperoni and mushrooms.
  • Craig’s favorite place to visit in the area is the Hamilton College Root Glenn Trail in Clinton. He and his family visit every spring and walk the trails. 
  • Growing up in Westmoreland is one of his favorite memories in the area. 
  • The Dark Star Orchestra at the Saranac Brewery is his favorite community event, along with the other shows. 
  • Craig loves to hunt, canoe, and go camping. 
  • When asked if he has any special talents, he says he’s pretty handy with a chainsaw! 
  • Craig has a very special book of poems written by his grandfather, who was his hero. 
  • His favorite thing to cook is pancakes. 
  • Alaska is on his bucket list, and he’s climbed Mt. Sanitas in Boulder, Colorado, which was his “a-ha” moment to go back to school to major in Social Work and ultimately decided to spend his life “helping my fellow man.” 
  • His Karaoke song would be Casey Jones by the Grateful Dead. His favorite concert of all time was the Grateful Dead in Highgate, Vermont in 1995. 
  • Craig’s motto to live by is “Ain’t no time to hate, barely time to wait.” 

Would He Rather? 

We asked Craig some “Would you rather” questions, and here’s how she answered:

He would rather have a golden voice than a silver tongue.  

He would rather live in cabin in the woods than on the beach. 

He would rather be a famous director than a famous actor. 

He would rather watch the movie than read the book.    

He would rather teleport anywhere than be able to read minds.