Irene De Anda Lewis
“I don’t ever feel what I do at the Red Shield is a job,” says Irene De Anda Lewis. “It’s a calling. God has called me to work with youth.” With a smile, she admits, “I’ve been offered other jobs with more money, but I don’t think I could have the same passion anywhere else.”
That passion, she explains, stems from the impact Army programs had on her when she was a child growing up in Salinas, Calif. Her father was an immigrant farm worker, and the family had no money for extras.
“If we hadn’t had The Salvation Army in Salinas, I would have stayed home. The Army sent me to camp, provided me with field trips, gave me an opportunity to participate in service projects–it let me know the world was bigger than my little neighborhood. I see the same things in the kids at the center.” The Army also introduced her, at age 14, to Jesus Christ. “That’s when God first called me to Christian service,” she says.
Today, Irene relates to a very large world, a good portion of it focused on improving life in the Pico-Union area.
Some of her involvements in the community include: Participating in the first class of the Whitecap foundation’s Management Academy; chair for the LAPD Rampart Community Police Advisory Board for 1998/99; appointed by LA City Council to serve on the advisory committee of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative for the Byzantine-Latino Quarter; overseeing implementation of the Los Angeles Bridges Program in the Pico-Union area (a four-year citywide strategy to reduce gang activity among middle school youth); selected for the Latina Ministry council established by the Hispanic Ministry Center and City Impact (one of eight women selected from the Western region of the US); member of National American Correctional Assoc. Children’s Initiatives Committee; member of the Coalition to Improve the Quality of Life in Rampart.
“As Irene has given her life in service and ministry to the thousands upon thousands of people in the Pico-Union area of Los Angeles, God has blessed and honored her,” said Lt. Colonel Alfred Van Cleef, Southern California divisional commander. “There is no division in who Irene is as a Christian and how she works and lives. Her Christian commitment drives her work and life.”
Director of The Salvation Army Red Shield Youth and Community Center since 1991, she has for the past five years also served as the Southern California Division’s divisional director of youth development.
A former Salvation Army officer, Irene soldiers at the Santa Monica Corps, where she serves as worship leader. She served on the Western Territory’s Guiding Coalition, which developed the Territorial Vision statement, and now serves on the committee instrumental in implementing the vision.
She is married to Mark Lewis, and has a 7-year-old daughter, Monica.