For the past 20 years, Raymore resident and volunteer Monique Lewis has worked to enhance her community. In particular, the 86-year-old has focused on the lives of its senior citizens. During the past two weeks, the far-reaching contributions of this volunteer have been recognized with awards.
On May 3, Lewis was announced as a 2018 Lieutenant Governor’s Senior Service Award winner. Lewis was selected from a field of 152 nominees representing 77 Missouri counties for the award, which promotes and highlights the positive volunteer achievements of the state’s seniors.
During Monday evening’s city council meeting, the City of Raymore also presented Lewis with an award: a mayor’s proclamation, also recognizing her volunteerism.
“I was humbled to be nominated for this award,” Lewis said. “I don’t feel I’m doing anything special. I’m filling a need I have to help people make their lives feel worthwhile.”
Since 1999, Lewis has been doing just that. She has made a significant impact on a diverse group of community and non-profit organizations, as well as to state and local governments. She has served on the Raymore City Council, the Parks and Recreation Board, and was a founding member of the Raymore Parks Foundation.
However, for the past decade, Lewis’ top focus has been on senior citizen initiatives. Lewis’ commitment to her fellow seniors reaches wide, and the positive impact she makes extends from local organizations to the Missouri state legislature.
“People are living into their 90s and 100s, and they’re not sitting in their rocking chairs. I’m interested in helping senior people enjoy their lives,” she said.
Lewis’ interest in serving the senior population began during her career as a physical therapist, both in the United States and Europe.
“While I was working, it became obvious that elderly people needed help,” she said.
Over time, Lewis’ interest in helping people in need grew and she began welcoming opportunities to serve senior citizens.
In 2008, Lewis was nominated through the city council to join Raymore’s Council for Aging, a national organization dedicated to helping seniors meet the challenges of growing older. Through her involvement with this group, Lewis came in contact with senior centers and care facilities.
“I saw seniors who were hungry and needed meals,” she said. “Others needed transportation, so they could go to community centers, have social interaction with others, and not be alone.”
In 2016, Lewis joined a citizen task force that developed a master plan through which Raymore achieved Gold Level recognition as a Mid-America Regional Council Community for All Ages.
She is also a member of the Silver Haired Legislature, an elected body of citizens, 60 and older, who promote conscientious legislative advocacy for Missouri’s older adults. As part of her responsibilities, Lewis represents this group to the Raymore City Council, providing updates and soliciting support for its programs.
The initiative closest to Lewis’ heart is the Aging Mastery Program. An extension of the Community for All Ages organization, Lewis coordinates this 10-week program designed to help seniors navigate longer, happier and more fulfilled lives. Some of the program’s sessions include exercise and fitness, financial fitness, medication management and community engagement.
“Monique Lewis is an extraordinary volunteer who has dedicated herself to creating programs in our community that touch the lives of residents both young and old,” said Jim Cadoret, Raymore community development director.
Though her contributions to the entire Raymore community have been extensive, Lewis believes more work needs to be done and has no plans to relax.
“I feel that a lot of elderly are neglected and not appreciated,” she said.
“The elderly are worthwhile, have good work to do, and offer important conversations. I want to help them discover this potential. As long as I’m alert, can drive, and am able to understand the world around me, I want to do this work.”