Tonya M. Lewis
Mrs. Tonya M. Lewis is one of the most recognized and respected community activists in the Tampa Bay area. She has worked for 28 years pouring her life into the care and upkeep of the city’s underserved youth and elderly. Mrs. Lewis has made Children With A Vision, Inc. (CWAV) a household name through proven dependability and resourcefulness.
Mrs. Lewis is proud of how far she’s come; and doesn’t shy away from her checkered past. She was born in Miami, Florida; and relocated to Plant City at the age of seven. A challenging childhood caused Mrs. Lewis to leave home at 13; and forced her to become an adult at an early age. As a young teenager, she had to learn how to provide for herself and navigate the streets to survive. That survival led to Mrs. Lewis serving a year behind bars. While it was an unfortunate circumstance, it enabled her to truly reflect on her life’s purpose. She started Lewis Lawn Care & Maintenance and provided years of excellent service to residents and commercial clients. In a field dominated by her male counterparts, she shattered stereotypes and was an example to many young women and men.
Working daily in the community, Mrs. Lewis witnessed the plight of the young people and the elderly. After a while, she could no longer ignore their blatant needs. In 1996, she began to do her part to make a difference. Eventually, in addition to her booming lawn care business, she launched Children With A Vision, Inc. (CWAV).
CWAV and its partners have serviced thousands in the community for nearly three decades. The organization hosts several annual events including a back-to-school bash where they supply book bags and school supplies to those in need. The organization also hosts an annual Grandmothers Valentine’s Day Gala, where more than 500 grandmothers are honored and spoiled for the day.
In October, CWAV hosts Operation Safe Halloween, complete with candy, food and entertainment, to provide a safe place for kids and families to enjoy the evening. Each Thanksgiving, Mrs. Lewis cooks a massive amount food for CWAV’s annual community Thanksgiving dinner, where they welcome in the homeless and first responders.
In addition, they offer turkeys and bags of food to families in need. Mrs. Lewis and CWAV close out the year with its Christmas Toy Drive. They help purchase items on the wish list from orphans, disabled kids, group homes, and hospitals. Mrs. Lewis’ efforts don’t stop with the annual events. Her organization provides water, food, supplies and more to the community all throughout the year, including hurricane prep. In addition, CWAV has been a critical partner during COVID-19, distributing PPE in communities and to residents that need it most.
Ms. Lewis is an asset and a Community Champion. She was nominated as a City of Tampa Black History Committee Community Honoree of Distinction because of her reputation as a community activist who has influenced the lives of many. She is a woman of her word and displays true commitment to her community and is a voice for those who can’t often speak for themselves.