Recently, the New Orleans Recreation Department decided to pay it forward to its counterpart in Lake Charles, a Louisiana community hit by two hurricanes — Laura and Delta — in 2020.
After collecting more than 300 items during a sporting gear drive for the Lake Charles rec department, NORD knew it needed a way to transport the gear and staff to deliver the donations to Lake Charles, more than three hours away.
NORD reached out to Harold Lewis, General Manager of Lewis Coaches, Inc, to book a charter. Lewis volunteered one of his coaches for the delivery run, picking up the cost of the trip. It was the right thing to do, said Lewis, who is the third generation to run the family business.
“We provided services for families affected by these hurricanes and saw the devastation they suffered. We wanted to give back,” he said
The general manager joked that he had to get the go-ahead for the good deed from “his boss.” That would be Braden, Lewis’ 18-year-old son, who has dreams of taking over the family bus business after he finishes college.
The NORD pay-it-forward campaign was covered by local news station WDSU News.
Lewis Coaches works with NORD annually to take young people on trips. Because of COVID-19, those trips came to a halt in 2020, but Lewis is glad NORD thought of him when they needed help with the pay-it-forward effort.
This has been a tough year financially for Lewis not only because the pandemic brought much of his business to a halt, but his commercial insurance rates have skyrocketed.
Still, Lewis says he doesn’t let his challenges blind to the needs of others. The Lewises’ company is familiar with the hurricane-ravaged Lake Charles, having provided assistance as part of evacuation efforts there in August and October — and in November to help residents get to the polls to vote.
“We’re glad we were able to help,” he said.