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Living in the Metroplex makes it difficult to get hometown news on a daily basis, so the City of Lewisville is doing its best to keep you informed through several avenues.

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City presents two “Spirit of Lewisville” awards

Post Date:January 31, 2020 11:15 a.m.
The City of Lewisville presented the annual “Spirit of Lewisville” award earlier this week to two individuals whose interactions with the City have gone beyond usual expectations and produced life-changing results.

Lewisville residents and organizations frequently work alongside city employees on projects benefitting the community. This can happen through volunteer programs, event partnerships, social service agreements, board and committee appointments, and other arrangements, both formal and informal.

The “Spirit of Lewisville” award is intended to recognize individuals or groups that worked closely with city staff on a significant project, exceeding usual expectations one might have of a volunteer or a social service agency, and that produce exceptional results that directly benefitted one or more members of the Lewisville community. Each of the 2020 honorees helped attain outcomes that likely could not have been accomplished by the city without their help.

Stephen Thomas, Executive Director of Denton County Social Services for The Salvation Army

As Executive Director of Denton County Social Services for The Salvation Army, Stephen Thomas has a direct hands-on impact working with the local homeless population.

Thomas has been instrumental in working with city staff to implement the Code Blue Protocol, under which The Salvation Army can open its Old Town facility as an emergency overnight shelter during dangerous overnight winter weather.

Code Blue Protocol usually is activated early in the day (or even two or more days in advance) based on National Weather Service forecast information. If the combination of overnight low temperatures and precipitation will create a life-threating situation for people sleeping outdoors, city staff inspects the Salvation Army service center and then authorize its use as an emergency overnight shelter.

On one day, the forecast called for temperatures that would remain above freezing with no significant precipitation, so Code Blue was not activated. However, close to midnight the air temperature suddenly dropped below freezing and an unexpected light rain began to fall. Thomas contacted city staff and Code Blue was initiated, but it was too late to use the normal channels of reaching the local homeless population.

Thomas took it upon himself to drive to locations where he knew homeless people slept overnight, and drove them to the shelter. His personal initiative and compassionate actions allowed about a dozen people to sleep indoors the rest of that night, possibly preventing severe illness or even death.

Joe Steger, AARP Tax Aide

Completing a federal income tax return can be a difficult and complicated process, especially for people who lack the resources to hire professional help. This has a disproportionate impact on older and low-income filers, whose lack of familiarity often mean they miss out on credits or deductions to which they are entitled.

To address this, AARP Foundation started the Tax-Aide program in 1968. Since then, trained volunteers nationwide have assisted nearly 50 million taxpayers by helping them to organize their records and complete federal forms.

In Lewisville, that effort starts with resident Joe Steger, who leads the local team of AARP Tax-Aide volunteers working through the Lewisville Public Library and Senior Activity Center. Last year, the AARP Tax-Aide team helped 535 local taxpayers complete their income tax returns.

Steger is dedicated to this service, working at the Library twice a week, about seven hours each day, from January until April. He trains and coordinates the volunteers and manages the schedule for volunteers and clients.

His friendly and helpful demeanor makes people comfortable and his dedicated service provides motivation to the team of volunteers. This vital service has brought peace-of-mind, and in many cases financial benefit, to thousands of Lewisville residents through the years and could not have been performed by city staff without Joe and his team of volunteers.
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