VOL. 116 | NO. 134 | Friday, July 12, 2002
Abundant energy and spirit
By SUE PEASE
The Daily News
Sandy Lewis retired almost 7 years ago, but youd never know
First of all, retiring is not a word that would describe her
energetic, positive and lively fit much better.
When she retired from St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital,
Lewis thought life would slow down and allow her to take up hobbies such as
piano and sewing, and devote time to well, doing pretty much nothing.
It hasnt worked out quite that way.
(Nothing) was not my forte, Lewis said with a laugh.
Instead, community causes have filled her schedule, keeping
her busy planning fund-raising events. She also serves on many nonprofit
organization boards and frankly, works hard to help others.
Those are some reasons why the National Conference for
Community and Justice recently presented her with the 2002 Humanitarian Award.
According to the NCCJ, Sandy is truly making Memphis a
better place for all of us, not just some of us.
Looking at a list of the many groups she volunteers for, the
statement holds true.
The organizations she supports are many and far-reaching.
In the past, she served on boards for the NCCJ, the Baron
Hirsch Synagogue, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Memphis Symphony League. She
currently is a board member of Opera Memphis, Sandy Vogel Lewis Neighborhood
House Day Care Center, the Marguerite Piazza-St. Jude Gala and the Memphis
Lewis, 66, began her passion for volunteering before she
retired from St. Jude, where she worked for 28 years and was national executive
secretary to the ALSCAC/St. Jude board. She loved the work and the people she
worked with closely, including entertainer and hospital founder, Danny Thomas.
I think he has left the greatest legacy that anybody has
left to the world the whole world, Lewis said.
(St. Jude) has to be the most dedicated group of
individuals I have worked with. It was just a phenomenal place.
And, the work gave her insights into what she is doing now.
For Lewis, raised in Memphis and attending Central High
School and the University of Memphis, getting involved in causes before she
retired gave her a taste of what it feels like to be a volunteer. Since then,
the momentum has only quickened.
And volunteering is the key to keeping her high-energy
momentum going, she said.
I think that is the secret retired or not retired you
must have interests. Otherwise, you tend to focus on yourself, but there is
always something to do for somebody else, she said.
Today, one of her main interests is the Memphis Cancer
Foundation board, where she serves as chairwoman.
She became involved in the foundation after meeting Dr.
Kirby Smith. He was her oncologist during her struggle with breast cancer in
1989. He also started the foundation.
While her cancer is in remission now, the experience with
the disease put more energy into her subsequent days, she said.
I think what cancer does for you is it makes you realize
how important every day is, Lewis said.
And even more important than her volunteerism is her family.
Her four children, five grandchildren and husband take
priority over everything.
Visitors to her house can immediately tell where the family
rates. While her immaculate home is beautifully decorated in soft pastels and
everything in its perfect place, one corner of her living room overflows with
piled up board games awaiting a visit from the grandchildren.
But Lewis doesnt mind. Thats exactly how she likes it.
I guess Im selfish. I cant get enough of the kids and
grandkids. When they are all here with me and I look around the room, I would
say my life is complete.