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Volunteer Spotlight: Business owner finds joy serving at son’s school
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McAllister Elementary School volunteer Dana Lewis enjoys taking care of the chicken coop on the school premises. Photo by Mark Swendra.

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of articles spotlighting area volunteers and their organizations. To nominate a volunteer go here

Although she runs two businesses, Dana Lewis still finds time to be a volunteer “rock star” at her son’s school, McAllister Elementary.

Lewis, owner of Ella’s, a gift shop in Richmond Hill, and part-owner of the restaurant Marker 107 with her husband Griffin, “pours so much time and effort into making McAllister a great school,” according to Principal Bivins Miller. “She is truly a rock star,” he said.

Lewis has served as a member of the school’s PTSO and school council, and has been a room mom, grant writer and the brains behind the school’s outdoor chicken coop and vegetable gardens. “I’m willing to help wherever needed,” Lewis said. “At a public school, you need parent volunteers.”

She said her son Graham, a third-grader at the school, is the motivation for her volunteer service, but it’s the school itself that gets high marks from Lewis.

“I love this school. It’s amazing -- the energy, the administration, the staff,” she said. “It’s not just the brand new building. It’s the opportunities. It’s the happiest school on earth …that’s the slogan, and I agree.”

She called Miller “an awesome principal” who’s open to new ideas.

Miller describes Lewis as someone with a “servant’s heart.” He added, “What we are able to pull off as a K-5 school with 1,300-plus kids, wouldn’t be possible without the volunteer support.” He said Lewis is “an integral part of the school community, leading in many capacities. Everything is done behind the scenes. It’s not for fanfare. That’s just what makes her tick.”

At Ella’s, Lewis operates a plant market, and at home, the family has a farm with animals, she said. It’s no wonder then of her love working on the grounds of McAllister taking care of its chicken coop and gardens.

“I’m definitely better suited outdoors,” she said. “I’m not afraid to get dirty,” she laughed.

Lewis reflected on the importance of volunteerism: “We’re all busy, but if everybody could give back just a little...” she paused. “And why wouldn’t I want to help a place that has my son seven hours a day?”

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Dana Lewis takes care of the chicken coop at McAllister Elementary School. Photo by Mark Swendra.
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