One of her first stops was her hometown of Andover. She returned to town last Friday to make a special guest appearance at Andover Youth Services’ annual Valentine’s Dance.
McQuillen — who has participated in and been a big supporter of her town’s youth services program — played an acoustic set at the Feb. 14 fundraiser for the town’s seventh- and eighth-graders at Old Town Hall on Main Street.
A packed house welcomed McQuillen, who was touched by the turnout and said she almost cried when the crowd held up a banner at the end of her performance that read, “Thank You Casey.”
It wasn’t the first time McQuillen has performed for an AYS benefit.
Growing up in Andover, the rising musician was frequently involved in youth services programming. In fact, she used to attend the Valentine’s Dance as a kid.
In recent years, she’s taken to giving back to the organization. Last year, she took the stage to perform during the group’s annual telethon.
“Just the first time I met her, she was a bright light,” AYS Director Bill Fahey said. “We’re talking about a young person here who has all the gifts, but on top of that, is a really awesome human being.”
Earlier in the day Feb. 14, before heading to Andover, McQuillen was at Melrose Middle School talking to 900 students about bullying, a good work ethic and confidence.
She said she plans to keep up a connection with teens as it’s an audience she enjoys working with.
“I plan to use the attention from `Idol’ and talk to teens about those issues,” she said. “I want to help them.”
Staff writer Dustin Luca contributed to this report.