Lewis named ‘Precious Gem’

Published 10:39 pm Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Virginia Office for Comprehensive Services has awarded Rachel W. Lewis, Comprehensive Services Act coordinator for the Suffolk Department of Social Services, the “Precious Gem Award” for the CSA Coordinator of the Year in Virginia.

Lewis received the award at the Office of Comprehensive Services’ annual conference in Roanoke last week.

Lewis

Lewis

Lewis was nominated by the Community Policy and Management Team chairs for the Suffolk, Isle of Wight and Franklin for her work in community collaboration, family focus and innovation, which mirrors the mission and vision of the Comprehensive Services Act and the State Office of Comprehensive Services.

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Lewis has served as the CSA coordinator for the three localities since February 1997.

Azeez Felder, director of the Suffolk Department of Social Services, said, “Rachel Lewis, a City of Suffolk employee for 17 years, has always worked diligently as our CSA coordinator in addressing the strengths and various needs of at-risk youth in the Western Tidewater area.”

Lewis is employed through a cooperative agreement among the three localities, with each jurisdiction maintaining autonomy in managing its CSA program. Lewis has worked with only a part-time utilization specialist to assist her until recently, when a program assistant was hired.

As one of the longest-serving CSA coordinators in the state, Lewis has mentored many new coordinators and has made significant contributions at the state level with her involvement in state and local advisory teams.

She began a modest local vendor’s fair more than 10 years ago, which has grown into a large annual event organized by the entire Eastern region and with an average annual budget of $20,000, all from vendor sponsorships.

Lewis also organized a day-long community forum on CSA held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Suffolk last year, which included judges, guardians ad litem, agency representatives and service providers.

Additionally, Lewis collaborated with the Western Tidewater Community Services Board in developing a therapeutic day treatment program developed with Mental Health Initiative funds and using a combination of Medicaid and MHI resources to have a viable program in rural localities.